Is how we’re doing church the right way to do it? Certainly it’s different than what it sounded like in Acts and the epistles.
What does the word ‘church’ even refer to?
I know some people who whenever possible take ‘church’ to mean the little local fellowship (distinct from all the other local fellowships). I know others who take ‘church’ to mean all the saints, whenever possible.
I’ve just finished reading Total Church, A radical reshaping of gospel and community by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis. Emphasis on radical (although I was kind of expecting it to be a bit more off the wall). The authors are elders in England who are trying to do church in a different way.
It’s a book that makes you ask a lot of questions about how you view the church. I was already reviewing how I saw the church so the book gave me a view of a totally different model.
Gospel And Community
The authors see the church as having two key principles. The first is gospel, which they break into two part; the Word centred truth of the gospel and the mission centred part of proclaiming the gospel. The second part is community, sharing life together.
They talk about how conservatives tend be good at the gospel side but bad at the community part, while the other extreme of Christianity, which they slap with the ‘emergent’ label, tend to be the other way around.
The Church Is Not A Building
We all know the church is the people. These guys argue that the church is not about a couple of meetings each week (which is exactly what most of our churches basically are). Rather it’s about all of life. Church every day of the week. Sometimes a gathering to hear the Word spoken, but more frequently to help each other, and especially to help each other to walk with the Lord.
They also want church to be a comfortable place for unbelievers. This is how they do community missions, by bringing in unbelievers and slowly winning them over to the gospel.
They quote John Stott…
If our structure has become an end in itself, not a means of saving the world, it is a heretical structure.
Which raises a question; should the church be primarily for believers, who can then go out and witness to the world, or should it be a place to reach the lost with the gospel? Is it one or the other or both?
Things I Liked
- This is a living, breathing church.
- It’s much more real in the lives of the congregation than a meeting based approach.
- Their evangelism is not about getting decisions, it’s about making disciples.
- It’s harder to slip in and out of the building and not be involved.
- There’s more accountability in the fellowship.
Things I Didn’t Like
- Families are not autonomous and can’t made decisions on their own.
- Examples of church life had them looking too like the world without a separation of standards.
- Sometimes their worship gatherings sounded just far too casual.
- They think it’s more important to evangelise the poor than the rich (weirdest bit of the book).
- They knocked evangelism methods other than the relationship approach.
Total Church on Amazon.