Total Church

The strength of this book for me is in its practical examples and stories of real life situations that have been experienced by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis as they have begun to explore the way Christian live in relationship and community. Unfortunately, the book as a whole bored me with its predictability.

The thinking of this book would have been ‘radical’ in the 70’s and 80’s when the Liberation Theology movement was spreading from places like South America, with their focus on small groups, and community building that enabled the poor to be ‘set free’, but today it joins the many books on our shelves exploring the themes of discipleship, engagement in social action, building community and relationships and spirituality.

That said, it is interesting to read of the ways that the authors, from a conservative evangelical background, are coming to terms with a new way of living as Christian disciples that is relevant and life transforming. They have discovered that to be culturally relevant might mean that you remain small, a sign of the kingdom, but that it is essential to learn how to be ‘in love’; ‘in love’ with God, that enables his grace to be experienced and ‘in love’ with others, as the outworking of that love.

The book ends with an inspiring message of hope in the love of God that transforms individuals and communities. But I fear that the message, for those of us who are engaged in developing discipleship and communities, it has already become outdated as conversations about emerging church and ‘fresh expressions’ move us into new ways of being culturally relevant beyond a traditional church structure.

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