We live in a day where They Like Jesus, but Not the Church and people are praying, “Lord, Save us from Your Followers.” And in that context, it’s incredibly refreshing to hear the hearts of two men who love Christ and his Church – and seek to see it restored, not to any day and time of the “good ol’ days,” but to a Gospel-driven, Community-centered people of God.
Total Church is a rethinking, a re-imagining of what the Church was intended to be. It seeks to discover what it might look like for a church to focus on Gospel, Mission, and Community.
The people of God need to be driven and moved by the Word of God. And we must remember that to use Gospel as a descriptor, we are indeed claiming Christ as the Gospel. It is not merely a set of propositional truths to be believed, but a person to be encountered by. It is merely something that saves us, but something that sustains us – giving us life and hope each day.
When we are Gospel-centered, we are driven to Mission. “The gospel is a missionary word; so the church must be mission-centered.” (p. 32) The Gospel is not only that which sustains us, but it is also that which compels us to share the good-news of Jesus Christ. Everything the church does MUST be considered in light of seeing the word of God move forward.
The Church must also be community-centered. That means that the entire western belief structure that holds to an individual, private faith is bankrupt. God calls us to faith, certainly, but he also calls us to be part of a family. He calls us to be “a people,” rather than “a bunch of people.” Everything the church does MUST be considered in light of loving, genuine community.
To be quite honest, this book has challenged me to rethink some of my pre-conceived notions of church. The last chapter (aside from the conclusion) that dealt with defining the success of a church was very helpful as I wrestle with my background and understanding of church. I’ve served in traditional churches, modern churches, rural churches, city churches, old churches, and church plants. I describe myself as “homeless” in regards to church methodology. I’ve seen the hollow pragmatics of seeker, attractional church and I’m not quite willing to leap all of the way to full on “missional” church.
But with that said, this book has given me much to think on and consider. Much more than I ever could have known before I picked it up.
I highly recommend it.