William Porter (Ed), Moorleys 2006, 224 pp., £8.50, ISBN 0 86071 5957
The Christian church has often had to re-learn fundamental principles, so I welcome this book and I have been challenged by it. In the preface, Porter suggests that ‘a revival theology is, at its heart, one that looks to God to recreate a new missionary DNA in the midst of the church’. He introduces each of the four sections and offers opening and closing sections. There are contributions from fourteen authors.
Mobilising a Movement of Prayer gets to the nub of current problems, persuasively pressing the fundamental need for the church to be mobilised for and in prayer. I am thankful that prayer is given the first slot in the book and with such clear challenges.
Sparking Spiritual Renewal includes a chapter entitled ‘A recipe for revival - with a dash of Chile’. Little has been known of the Spirit’s work over many years in Chile, so this coverage from Miguel Escobar is particularly welcome. I was very pleased to see, in the chapter by Isaac Lim of Singapore (who contributes in each section), the reference to what he terms ‘John Wesley’s Pentecost’, and his note that ‘thereafter, the fact that his ministry was empowered was more than evident’.
Releasing Radical Leadership underlines the need for leaders of vision, drive and initiative. Isaac Lim provides searching analysis and direction in his chapter. Other contributors provide challenge and encouragement, emphasising the need for vision in the work of the gospel. I warmed to their concern for leaders who are under the authority of the Holy Spirit, but would like to have seen a little more of the ‘towel and basin’ Servant concept of leadership.
Enabling Evangelistic Communities again gives much stimulus for the reader. So often maintenance is seen as more important than mission. The challenges come for the leader to widen thinking and action in the interests of the Kingdom. Rob Frost points out the critical need to ‘engage with spiritual hunger today’, summarising the basic thrust of this section. We can be focused on the past and unwilling to consider the ‘all things’ of 1 Corinthians 9:22.
I commend this book, not least because I have found it a stimulus and challenge to such leadership in which I am involved. But I would like to have seen more specific engagement with the holiness ‘DNA’ of Methodism and God’s sovereign dealings with individuals and groups. I pray that the Lord will use it to ignite ‘a new mentality, a new motivation and a new commitment’. And that it may lead to the time when we may see, as Duncan Campbell put it, ‘revival - a going of God among the people, an awareness of God laying hold of the community’.
Reviewed by Peter Barker, a methodist Local Preacher in the Wareham, Dorset.
Headline Autumn 2006 p28.