In this post I want to reflect on two books that I read over the summer holiday break – one from the UK and one from Australia. They both tackle the same issue: the relevance and mission of the church today.
Everyday Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis (IVP, 2011) continues on from an earlier book Total Church . The Trellis and the Vine by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne (Matthais Media 2009) looks at how churches are often busy maitaining the trellis upon which the vine should live but forget about nurturing the very plant that should grow upon it. The metaphor suggests that we are so involved in institution and organisation, we lose sight of the mission of the church.
I am not going to summarise the books, rather, if you are interested in the health of the church I encourage you to read these challenging and practical books for yourself.
Everyday church is a study of 1 Peter and applies these lessons to us today. It asks, what should characterise church, how should it appear to the world in which we live and how do we the live the gospel in that world? It urges followers of Christ to be an active leaven in the environment in which God has placed us. Whereas the Everyday Church comes from more of a “home church” background, The Trellis and the Vine confronts the church as most of us would know it. It suggests a paradigm shift for those in pastoral and leadership roles which emphasises “equipping the saints” rather being the “service providing” clergyman.
The reason that I don’t want to précis these books is because both are valuable and have many practical lessons. They need to be read, studied and digested, if not by every church member, certainly by every church leader and person interested in the health of the church.
My challenge: read these books and ask, how the health, vision and impact of your part of the body of Christ can be invigorated?