What is the gospel?
The word "gospel" simply means good news, particularly news of victory from battle. It's a report of events that have already happened and can have a dynamic effect on the life of the listener.
When we talk about the gospel, we are talking about the good news of what God has accomplished in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ, through his life, death, burial and resurrection. Jesus' finished work secures the forgiveness of sins of all who will repent and believe in Jesus as Lord and Saviour.
The Gospel is What Has Been Done For Us
The gospel is not advice for living, but news about what Christ has done. The gospel is not something we do, but something that has been done for us. As Tim Keller likes to say, the gospel is that you are so lost and flawed, so sinful, that Jesus had to die for you, but you are also so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for you. Now you are fully accepted and delighted in by the Father, not because you deserve it but only by free grace.
This news about Jesus is not just the entry point into Christian faith, but is the basis for all of Christian life and ministry. The gospel shapes, guides and directs all that we do as pastors. We aren't building our own kingdoms with our own achievements, but are witnesses to the gospel.
Everything we do needs to be grounded in the good news of the gospel.