Sunday, 9 January 2011

Total Church

I was given Total Church, by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis, for Christmas by James and finished it in less than I week. I was quite impressed with my efforts. What I wasn't impressed by was my apparent inability to write notes whilst reading a book. You'd have thought as an English Literature graduate I would have learnt that skill, but obviously not. Therefore, I can't remember much of the beginning bit, although I remember I enjoyed it.

Before I go into more detail, though, click here to read an extract.

Warning: jargon follows

I had quite a bizarre reaction to this book, because it wasn't given just to satisfy intellectual curiosity but more to challenge and change the way I live my life. It may have implications on my jobs, where I live and who I choose to share my life with. At first I felt the book seemed to put into words things I had been feeling for a while. Then, the Christmas blues came in and with them came doubt about it all. I felt it was asking me to commit too much.

I really like the main thrust of the book. I loved the idea of being a gospel-centred community and, as a natural response of this, having a mission-centred community. I really love the idea of community. I've always been a community orientated person, and I've always felt it is something that is a natural out-working of our salvation in Christ Jesus. Christianity was never meant to be an individual deal, but our individualistic society has made it just that. From the very first promise to Abraham, God was calling himself a nation, a united people, not many lone-rangers.

Other notes

  • I also loved the model of evangelism. It was community based, it wasn't a hit-and-run or a soap-box affair. I felt it had integrity and expressed the love of Jesus in a way that wasn't shallow and hypocritical. 
  • The bit on children and youth work was a very different model to what most churches have and it's one that I want to use elements of. I don't want to take it too far, because I'll probably have to quit my job. 
  • I liked the idea that theology should always be mission orientated and be useful for something, rather than people writing intellectual things for the sake of being clever.

The main thing about this book is that you feel it's written by people that live it out. Tim Chester and Steve Timmis are both involved in The Crowded House, which is a network of churches.

Now the Christmas blues have gone I'm really looking forward to living it out.

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