From early in its life, the Council of The Gospel Coalition has resisted the impulse to create another world-spanning American mission. Several gospel coalitions have sprung up overseas, but they are controlled and operated under local councils. We only ask that they do not use our name unless they are in thorough agreement with our Foundation Documents -- our Confessional Statement and Theological Vision of Ministry. If they ask for advice, if they want to learn more of our priorities, or if they want to invite members of our Council to share something of their ministry, we are honored to help where we can. Our goal, however, is to bring glory to God by expanding this gospel-centered, theologically driven movement, not to expand a particular organization.
At the same time, it does not take much reflection to recognize that we are blessed with many biblical and theological resources that many parts of the world cannot easily tap into. Sometimes the reason is poverty: books can be expensive, and there is too little money, and no reliable and rapid internet service. The language barriers are huge: those of us who speak and write English are sometimes unaware how immensely privileged we are in the biblical, theological, and spiritual literary resources we have inherited. So we have begun to develop ways to make some of these resources available to pastors and others around the world.
Once goals and priorities are established, the organizational steps are essentially three: translation (with the editorial and contractual steps that are required), publication (unless we can simply use the internet), and circulation (in places where books are more central than digital downloads---which are often the poorest places). Desiring God pioneered some of this thinking a few years ago, under the influence of Bill Walsh, who, with DG's approval, is now helping us at TGC. A great deal of this work involves not only a passion for mission, but considerable administrative gifts.
For example, much of this work can be broken down to specific costs for particular projects---e.g., so much for, say, 5,000 copies of a particular book to a particular corner of the world---and many Christians and local churches want to get behind such individual projects and receive reports of the work. Or again, shipping, say, 1,000 books to a particular country can be prohibitively expensive, making the unit cost far too high. But with some careful networking, it is possible to drop-ship donated cases of books to those of you engaged in short- and long-term missions efforts around the world. Our goal is that God will use our partnership and your ministry relationships to bring relief to the global theological famine. All it takes is some imagination, some networking, and some godly administration.
God willing, you will be hearing more of these challenges and opportunities in the months and years ahead. We're thankful for DG's pioneering work, for their ongoing partnership, and for this message from John Piper in support of TGC International Outreach.
John Piper on The Gospel Coalition from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.
Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition.