total church


"Church is not a meeting you attend or a place you enter.  It is an
identity that is ours in Christ.  It is an identity that shapes the
whole of life so that life and mission become "total church." 

In their book, Total Church: A Radical Reshaping around Gospel and Community
(Crossway, 2008), Tim Chester and Steve Timmis offer some excellent
realignment for existing churches that may have fallen into the rut of
programming religious activity.  I just picked up this book last night
and have not gotten into the meat of the pages yet.  But what I've read
so far… I like.

I've been saying, sometimes ranting,
for a while that church is not a show on Sunday mornings that we go
to… watch… and then leave.  Church is us… those who desire to
follow Jesus… and it is all encompassing of our lives.  Church is who
we are every day of the week.  This book seems to be trying to
communicate that smartly and gently.  I'm thankful for the respectful
affirmation! 🙂

Tim and Steve offer humble yet blunt insight into the ways existing
churches have become trapped… and challenge them to wake up.  They
also offer firm wisdom for emerging churches that have not embraced the
Word as the source of belief and practice.  They say "theology that
matters is not the theology we profess but the theology we practice"
(18).  A church should not be so Bible-focused that it loses its
mission and enrichment of community.  Neither, on the other hand should
a church be so community focused that it loses it's emphasis on
teaching the Word.  Neither should a church be so mission focused that
it neglects the Gospel and community.  Here's what Tim and Steve
suggest… A church should be (16):

1. Gospel-centered (both Word-centered and Mission-centered)
2. Community-centered 

They also offer some practical suggestions for what a Gospel-centered
and Community-centered church might mean… Here are just a few they
mention (18):

  • seeing church as an identity instead of a responsibility to be juggled alongside other commitments
  • celebrating ordinary life as the context in which the word of God
    is proclaimed with 'God-talk' as a normal feature of everyday
  • running fewer evangelistic events, youth clubs, and social projects and spending more time sharing our lives with unbelievers
  • switching the emphasis from Bible teaching to Bible learning and action
  • learning to disciple one another – and to be discipled – day by day
  • having churches that are messy instead of churches that pretend

More information about this book is available at resurgence.

Ken Castor

Ken Castor is a husband, dad, pastor, writer and teacher. He serves as a professor at Crown College, Minnesota, where he equips students to pursue Jesus-Centered Faith and Next Generation Ministry. For 20+ years he's focused on equipping the next generations in places like the U.S., Canada, and Northern Ireland. He's the author of Grow Down (Simply Youth Ministry, 2014), Make a Difference (Broadstreet, 2016), the Blue-Letters Editor of the Jesus-Centered Bible (Group, 2015) and numerous other articles and Bible Study guides. But, whenever possible, he gets down on the floor and builds Lego with his kids. Connect with him @kencastor.

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