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Total Church: A radical reshaping around gospel and community

By Tim Chester
June 2008 | Review by Paul Lintott

Synopsis

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
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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.

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