Having to write a report about time in the US with Redeemer Presbyterian and co. has reminded me of many examples of gospel optimism in practice.
One in particular sticks in the mind. Charlie Drew planted Emmanuel Presbyterian Church in the upper west side of Manhattan some 7 years ago. After some God-given growth for many years and spurred on by the gospel imperative, the church began to think itself of planting another church somewhere.
But Drew told us how there had been a recent plateau in numerical growth. Many would be tempted in such a situation to consolidate and bide time until growth returns before taking the risk of 'hiving off' significant givers and ministry leaders and making a financial commitment to a church plant. By contrast, Drew was inclined to see this plateau as an indication that it is time to plant. For Drew, not only does the gospel demand it in the long term, but in the short term church planting is perhaps the necessary strategy to overcome the growth plateau. What would be counter-intuitive to many was intuitive to Drew.
Gospel optimism means leading for growth not for maintenance.
(Oh, and for those who might be excited about such things, Drew described himself as a Presbyterian sacramentalist and said he had a very high view of the importance of the Lord's Supper, all in a non-Roman way I imagine)