Review: The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ

The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of ChristThe Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ by Raymond C. Ortlund Jr.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It sounds correct to speak of being Gospel centered. I wonder how well we understand what it actually means to be a Gospel centered church. The author makes a case for what it looks like to be Gospel centered in practice as well as profession. Every church has a culture, whether it is deliberately shaped or more organic. Having the Gospel correct in our doctrinal statement does not mean our church body is Gospel centered in practice. Ortlund brings out that Gospel centeredness can happen, but it doesn’t happen by a plan or program. A church must adorn the Gospel preached with a community of disciples who live out the Gospel in their lives.

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Review: 10 Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health

10 Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health10 Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health by Donald S. Whitney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a helpful book to think through ten different aspects that mark spiritual growth. Whitney doesn’t give a checklist or form to fill out. Instead, you will have to read each chapter and reflect on the condition of your own heart in life. It does provide a good opportunity to take stock of your life. Over time, good habits tend to slide and bad ones creep in. Also over time, if we are growing in knowledge and grace, we are better able to assess where we are than a few years ago. If you take it seriously, you won’t enjoy reading this book but it will be helpful to you.

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Review: The Compelling Community: Where God’s Power Makes a Church Attractive

The Compelling Community: Where God's Power Makes a Church AttractiveThe Compelling Community: Where God’s Power Makes a Church Attractive by Mark Dever
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is an excellent blend of biblical teaching and practical experience. The main thrust of this book has to do with the kind of unity a church ought to have. Churches can be like social clubs where the unity is built around similarities, whether demographic or special interests. Other churches have mere unity on a shared confession of faith, or distinctive doctrinal points. Both of those are common and both of those fall short of the mark of communal unity of the Lord’s churches in Scripture.

Dunlop uses the term “supernatural community” to describe the kind of church community taught in the New Testament. I’m not thrilled with that term, but the way he uses is right on. He also goes not to explain why there is no program to implement to have that kind of community. Pastors and church members will be benefited by reading, thinking, and praying through this book. The unity of the church membership should be working out in visible ways in terms of evangelism, discipleship, and even discipline.

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Review: One-to-One Bible Reading: A Simple Guide for Every Christian

One-to-One Bible Reading: A Simple Guide for Every ChristianOne-to-One Bible Reading: A Simple Guide for Every Christian by David R. Helm
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When we think of evangelism and discipleship, we tend to think of resources. we want books and helps to guide us. This is partly due to inexperience and partly due to lack of confidence. It may also come from fear of misguiding another in spiritual matters. If we are not careful, these can paralyze us so we end up doing nothing.

The suggestion in this book is not against the use of resources, but rather to recommend we use the best resource, the Bible. Helm lays out simple and helpful ways for us to evangelize an unbeliever and disciple a younger Christian through meeting and reading the Bible together. If we think about different books in the Bible, who they were written to, and why, we already have custom resources for different types of people. So the Gospels and even Acts are books that can be used with unbelievers. The epistles in the New Testament were mainly written to younger Christians to ground them in the truth and equip them for perseverance and service. It makes sense these books can be used this way.

Helm also gives us some examples where he breaks down some books to read this way. For instance, he gives us two approaches to the Gospel of Mark. If you meet with a person once a week, you could go through Mark with them in 8 weeks, or 20 weeks for a more in-depth reading. He does the same for some other books as well. He also gives two different methods, the Swedish and COMA methods, for how to do it.

Obviously, a person can use some, all, or none of these suggestions, but they are helpful at least to show us how it could be done. If you think about this in the work of the church, this would also pair well with verse-by-verse preaching through books. So a pastor could preach through a book and put together a similar guide to use in one-to-one Bible reading with their neighbors, family, friends, co-workers, etc. In this way, a pastor could more fully equip his people for the work of ministering.

I am thankful to have read this book. I want to pray through and think through how I can implement this in my own ministry. Evangelizing or discipling can be a daunting task to Christians, but the simplicity of this method could help us past such fears.

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