Subscribe now

Total Church: A radical reshaping around gospel and community

By Tim Chester
June 2008 | Review by Paul Lintott


Total Church pleads for two key principles for church and mission. First, the gospel as content: being word-centred (for the gospel is truth) and being mission-centred (for the gospel is truth to be proclaimed). Secondly, the community as context: sharing our lives as Christians and offering a place of belonging to unbelievers.

  • Publisher: InterVarsity Press
  • ISBN: 978-1844741915
  • Pages: 192
  • Price: £1.96
Buy this book »

Book Review

The authors of this book are both involved in ‘The Crowded House’ network of house churches in Sheffield, but make it clear from the outset that their purpose is not to justify or explain their particular church set-up but rather to engage with the principles of how we do church in general.

The way the book is laid out is very simple and clear – Part 1 examines the theology and convictions underlying their practice, with a very helpful dual emphasis on both gospel and community. Part 2 then looks at how these convictions work themselves out in practice in such areas as evangelism, social involvement, world mission, pastoral care and spirituality, to name a few.

There is no doubt that the book is written with both conviction and passion and that makes for a really engaging read. It is provocative and often speaks in bold terms in order to make the point. You may not agree with all that is being said, or perhaps with the exact application of a point, but you will be stimulated to think and it will challenge you to rethink why we do things the way we do.

I was impressed with the breadth of topics covered. Given the length of the book, it is impossible to cover them all in detail, but this is an excellent starting point for thinking through how a commitment to God’s Word and to gospel community should be worked out in the church.

Throughout the book there are short testimonies or stories from various people who have had experience with the issues being discussed. These are interesting, give real-life examples of the point being made, and break the book up nicely.

Certainly I would recommend reading the book and having a discussion in your own church about where and how it would be applicable. I found it most stimulating and it has opened up whole new areas of thinking for me.

Book Reviews

Read our latest book reviews

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Never Enough: Confronting Lies about Appearance and Achievement with Gospel Hope
Sarah Ivill

Never Enough is a well-written, thoughtfully structured series of ‘teachable moments’ based on the author’s own testimony of suffering from eating disorders and a battle between fitness and obsession. Ivill talks of how her need to be romantically loved made…

See all book reviews
Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
God’s design for women in an age of gender confusion
Sharon James

Is our belief in male headship culturally outdated, and should we see alternative ideas of marriage as ‘progress’? Is it possible to be born into the wrong body, and is sexual freedom good for women? Does Scripture show us a…

Sexuality and Identity (trilogy)
Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Sexuality and Identity (trilogy)
Owen Strachan and Gavin Peacock

These three punchy books address pressing issues: what the Bible teaches about lust (on desire), about homosexuality (on Biblical sexuality) and about transgenderism (on identity). The trilogy approach keeps each book short and focused while dovetailing effectively. Each book has…

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
A Beginner’s Guide To Church History
Philip Parsons

This book is a must-read for every Christian, which covers a wide period from the apostolic age to the church under Communism. There are numerous excellent works on church history, like Philip Schaff’s eight volumes, or Andrew Miller’s three volumes,…