In preparing for our sermon this Sunday evening, I found myself going back to one of my favorite books, “Total Church: A Radical Reshaping around Gospel and Community.

I have read a lot of books that have “Church” in the title and, though each is very helpful in its own way, many of them start to sound the same. More about the “how” of doing church stuff than the “who” and the “why.”

Total Church gets to the “who” and the “why” in ways that are both refreshing and challenging to me.

I share the following just because I think it is worth sharing. I will quote at length because I think many who would never purchase this book would be helped by this portion.

Answering the question, “What would it mean to be both gospel-centered and community centered?” Tim Chester and Steve Timmis propose these ideas:

Being both gospel-centered and community-center might mean:

  • 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 Godis proclaimed with “God-talk” as a normal feature of everyday conversation

  • running fewer evangelistic events, youth clubs, and social projects and spending more time sharing our lives with unbelievers

  • starting new congregations instead of growing existing ones

  • preparing Bible talks with other people instead of just studying alone at a desk

  • adopting a 24-7 approach to mission and pastoral care instead of starting ministry programs

  • switching the emphasis from Bible teaching to Bible learning and action

  • spending more time with people on the margins of society

  • learning to disciple one another-and to be discipled- day by day

  • having churches that are messy instead of churches that pretend

(Total Church, page 18; emphasis mine)