What is the church supposed to look like? McKnight notes that the church we grew up in has a great influence in how we see the church and the Christian life. He wants us to rethink both of those concepts.
He uses the illustration of a salad bowl. He suggests all kinds of “differents” coming together in fellowship is the church God intended. He reminds us the early church was made up of people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and social groups. That's how God designed the church to be. He knows it's not easy. But that's the point. “The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a family.”
Rather than a mixed salad, the church today is like a plate with all the salad makings separated and distanced from each other. Most individual churches seem to be all the same, all lettuce or all tomatoes. Ninety percent of churches draw ninety percent of their people from one ethnic group.
If the church is supposed to be a mixed salad, then what is the Christian life to look like? He explores several areas. Grace welcomes people and makes a place for them and means that the church is a place for transformation. Love is a commitment to be with and for, benefiting others. It is a reflection of how God loves us. Table signifies the coming together, the unity, transcending differences, sharing life. Holiness recognizes the work of God. It means devotion to God and learning to avoid sins. Newness represents freedom from the shackles of sin (but it doesn't mean we get to do what we want). Flourishing is living in the Spirit Who gives gifts and transforms and produces fruit (including suffering).
McKnight includes a number of stories illustrating how some of these aspects of the Christian life have been lived out. He has added some commentary, such as a section on politics.
This would be a good book for church boards and pastoral staff to read and discuss. There are no questions included to stimulate discussion. There are also no practical suggestions on how to develop a mixed salad church nor how to develop the characteristics of the Christian life he explores. So this book would be only a spring board, perhaps stimulating church leaders to develop a vision for the church McKnight describes.
Scot McKnight (PhD, Nottingham) is professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary, Lombard, Illinois. He is the author of several books. You can find out more at www.patheos.com/community/jesuscreed/.
Zondervan, 272 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.