G.O.S.P.E.L. is a small book packed with a large truth. The main thrust is summed up in two questions Horton says he often receives while he’s out preaching and rapping. The first comes from urbanites: “What is the gospel?” The second from suburbanites: “How can I present the Gospel in a way that is non-offensive to people living in an urban context?” (p. 9).
He then skillfully contextualizes the gospel for urban dwellers. G.O.S.P.E.L. is an acronym for the message of the gospel. Each letter represents a point in the good news.
G--God’s Image O--Open Fellowship S--Sin Introduced P--Penalty and Price E--Enter Jesus L--Life Everlasting
Horton delivers on answers both questions. He provides helpful introduction for ministering in an urban context (“The Need for the Gospel”). For instance, Horton recommends,
In addition, there is no reason to force slang initially. As you grow in relationship with people, you will learn what boundaries you have regarding conversation with them individually. . . .
Lastly, don’t to try to “dress the part” by urbanizing your wardrobe. Urbanites, socially speaking, have a keen sense of discernment and can spot a stranger who is fake a mile away. (p. 13)
The book would also be a great discipleship tool for an urban context. He gives illustrations which would be impactful for those immersed in urban culture. It was interesting reading those. Many were instructive and I found myself realizing I would have never thought of that connection. It may help those who fear gospeling in an urban context not come across as “fake” while still contextualizing the gospel properly.
I loved what he did at the end focusing on not just sharing the gospel but also recommending plugging into the word and a local church. He offered some great resources in that regard. My only critique was after offering a short prayer his wording seemed to place too much emphasis on the prayer itself (p. 63). It may be my background and spiritual issues coming out of a culture which focused too much on praying the prayer more than what Horton said. Not a huge concern and in a discipleship context it could be de-emphasized. Check out though. In seventy plus pages you won’y find a more helpful book for urban ministry.
What is the Gospel? D.A. Horton "chops it up" (to converse with someone in-depth on a particular subject) in seven chapters:
G - God's Image O - Open Fellowship S - Sin Introduced P - Penalty and Price E - Enter Jesus L - Life Everlasting
This book explains the gospel in an urban context. In the introduction, D.A. Horton gives a brief history of the Hip Hop culture. He also explains the study of Thebonics and includes a Thebonical glossary in the back of the book to refer to (which is where I got "chop it up" from).
D.A. Horton goes on to explain that "Ebonics derives from ebony and phonics (street slang). Thebonics is the merging of theological truths rendered in Scripture and broken down into bite size pieces to be exposited to the urban context in its own unique language of Ebonics."
After each chapter, he includes one of his gospel rap songs, which summarizes each theme of that particular chapter. This particular lyric stood out for me from his gospel rap song, "God's Image":
"We ain't God, even tho we made in God's image. He's infinite, we finite, meaning that we got limits."
I enjoyed reading the Gospel explained in a raw, uncut and urban way. I gleaned from the Thebonic terms, especially living in New York City and hearing it all around me. I knew some of the sayings, because my husband is familiar with street slang. He grew up in the Hood (the city neighborhood), surrounded by the hip hop culture.
In the last chapter entitled "What Now?", D.A. Horton gives his testimony and explains step by step how to get saved. What I thought interesting is that he advises how to look for a healthy church; by examining the three Ps: the preaching, the people and the process. I really liked how included this important and helpful information.
Overall, this book is Bangin'! (something that is appealing or pleasing). I appreciate it was written and would really love to see this book to get into the hands of the youth and youth leaders alike.
In conclusion, I want to personally thank Janis Backing of Moody Publishers for sending me this book for free to review.