January 19, 2009
Beginning this week the pastoral leadership of COS will be discussing the book Total Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis. I have found Total Church to be one of the most helpful and challenging books I have read on the church. The authors are not reinventing the church. Rather they are seeking to align our practice of "doing church" with what the Bible teaches. The thesis of the book is that the church is designed by God to be centered on the Gospel and community.
The authors write:
Our identity as Christians is defined by the gospel and community. Being gospel-centered actually involves two things. First it means being word-centered because the gospel is a word - the gospel is news, a message. Second, it means being mission-centered because the gospel is a word to be proclaimed - the gospel is good news, a missionary message...
So being gospel-centered means being word-centered and being mission-centered. The exists both through the gospel and for the gospel. At one level this is a motherhood-and-apple-pie declaration. Few Christians are going to object to being gospel-centered, just as no one is against mothers and apple pie. The problem is the gap between our rhetoric and the reality of our practice. The continual challenge for us is to apply this principle to church life and ministry without compromise...
The challenge before us it to make the gospel the center of our lives not just on Sunday mornings but on Monday mornings. This means ending distinctions between "full-timers" and "part-timers" and people with secular employment in our team and leadership structures. We need non-full-time leaders who can model whole-life, gospel-centered, missional living. It means thinking of our workplaces, homes, and neighborhoods as the location of mission. We need to plan and pray for gospel relationships. This means creating church cultures in which we see normal, celebrating day-to-day gospel living in a secular world and discussions of how we can use our daily routines for the gospel.
I highly recommend Total Church. If you attend Church of the Saviour and would like to read what the pastors will be reading and discussing in the weeks ahead then I would encourage you to get a copy of Total Church. It is one of those books I would like to see every member of COS read.