I’ve started reading Total Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis. The introduction brings in some of the ideas I’ve preached on recently; church being something we belong to not simply attend (1 Cor 12); church being a messy place which demands patience as people are brought to Christ from a broken society (2 Peter 3:9); the need for training young Christians by modelling godliness as more mature Christians hang out with them (Titus 2); not being frightened to go to the fringes of society for fear of being defiled (Titus 1:13-15).
Here’s some ideas from the introduction which make me look forward to reading the rest of the book:
John Stott says: ‘Our static, inflexible, self-centred structures are “heretical structures” because they embody a heretical doctrine of the church.’ If ‘our structure has become an end in itself, not a means of saving the world’ it is ‘a heretical structure’.
Being both gospel-centred and community-centred might mean:
- seeing church as an identity instead of a responsibility to be juggled alongside other commitments
- celebrating ordinary life as the context in which the word of God is proclaimed with ‘God-talk’ a normal feature of everyday conversation
- running fewer evangelistic events, youth clubs and social projects, and spending more time sharing our lives with unbelievers
- starting new congregations instead of growing existing ones
- preparing Bible talks with other people instead of just studying alone at a desk
- adopting a 24-7 approach to mission and pastoral care instead of starting ministry programmes
- switching the emphasis from Bible teaching to Bible learning and action
- spending more time with people on the margins of society
- learning to disciple one another — and be discipled — day by day
- having churches that are messy instead of churches that pretend