Friday, August 23, 2013

Total Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis

Chester and Timmis are part of a Christian community in northern England
attempting to do church differently – a serious exercise in doing Christian mission in a postmodern world. They argue that two key principles should shape the way we do church: gospel (word-centered, mission-centered) and community (relationship-centered). We need to be enthusiastic about truth, mission, and relationships.

Their Crowded House is a network of missionary congregations, mostly meeting in homes. On evangelism, “Most gospel ministry involves ordinary people doing ordinary things with gospel intentionality.” (63) Church planting is the best way to be a missionary. (87) “There cannot be mission apart from the local church. The local church is the agent of mission.” (88)

They are not big on the sermon, saying there is little New Testament evidence for it. (114) Most character formation happens in informal conversations with lives being transformed in the messy relationships of daily life. They are so adamant on community that they say contemplation, silence and solitude is the “exact opposite of biblical spirituality.” (141) They describe that tradition as “spirituality for the elite.” (143) They argue for a spirituality that is communal. (149) They also argue that the best way to do apologetics is not by reason or rational proof. The problem of unbelief is not intellectual but of the heart. The evidence of living in community is the best technique.

Their conclusion speaks to a passion for God. “Christianity is not a strategy or a set of principles. It is a relationship of love with a Triune God.” (203)

I certainly do not agree with everything Chester and Timmis have written but they do give the reader much to think about with respect to how we are doing church. This would be a good book for pastors and church boards to read. There would certainly be much to discuss.

Crossway, 224 pages. Find out more about the book and the authors at the publisher's product page.

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