By Tim Chester and Steve Timmins
Total Church; A Radial Reshaping around Gospel and Community is a radical book that powerfully pushes the boundaries of the readers understanding of church. If you read this book, it will help you shape a biblical understanding of the Church and community. For me, personally, I had a somewhat off balanced perspective on Church. One sentence in the introductions highlights the focus of the book, “we think that conservatives often do not ‘do truth’ well because they neglect community. Because people are not sharing their lives, truth is not applied and lived out.” This statement is informative and right on. The authors go about explaining that we as the church need to understand how to organize our priorities and use community for the advance of the gospel. The most helpful pages in the book are pages 44 and 45 where we see two pictures. The first picture has one man who is trying to juggle all his priorities, his calendar, his work, his house, and his church. This is often how our lives and our churches are organized. The second picture is the alternative. It is a picture of “persons-in-community” with all the priories in life being tackled in community. This understanding changed the way I do ministry and interact in the church.
The authors of the book give several examples of this model of church being lived out. The reality is that when community is at the center of church, it leads to so many gospel opportunities, not only to minister to those in the church, but to invite lost people to experience gospel centered community for themselves. This is one of the goals of this reshaping of the church around gospel and community. Instead of trying to reach lost people by inviting them to a church they will probably never be confortable going to, we invite them to share in community and get to know the people in the church first through this gospel community. Instead of sharing the gospel with someone and then inviting them into community, we invite them to be a part of a community as we share Jesus with and let them see the gospel lived out for themselves. This will lead many lost people to recognize that this is something different. In fact this is something that no secular community or friendship can come close too.
I am very thankful for this book and know it will continue to inform and change my ministry. Until churches start living out gospel in community, the truth will not be lived out in a way that the members are mutually built up and challenged. I am thankful for this radical explanation of the gospel in community. As the authors said in the book, “Only the truth of the gospel reaches across barriers of age, race, and class.” Let us as the church live out the gospel in community so that the church is build up and so the kingdom of God may grow.
This book review was written by Jonathan Ahlgren.
You can buy this book here: Total Church