Book Review: Gospel-Centred Church: Becoming the Community God Wants You to Be

Gospel-Centred ChurchGospel-Centred Church by Steve Timmis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a practical treatment of Gospel-centeredness in a church. “Gospel-Centered” is a buzz word you see and hear a lot. Not everyone means the same thing by it and there are reasons to be very cautious with the approach. Though not agreeing with everything, I think Timmis and Chester are using it mostly right–how the Gospel shapes and directs the community of the church, including discipleship, evangelism, etc.

The book is designed as a study, so there are questions for discussion and such. It would be a good study for groups to work through. Some things will seem outlandish, but hear them out. I assure you will be challenged and convicted. The authors goal is not to give a church template but to help direct focus and provoke strategic thinking.

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Review: The Trellis and the Vine

The Trellis and the VineThe Trellis and the Vine by Colin Marshall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disciples of Jesus make disciples of Jesus, who in turn make disciples of Jesus. I think you see where this is going. What is a church? A church is a called out assembly of disciples joined together in making other disciples. More could be said, but this is vital. Pastors make disciples but are also tasked with training disciples to make other disciples, and so on. This is the Gospel work churches are called to do. It’s so easy to get off point and begin to be about many other things.

I wish I had read this book years ago. I cannot recommend it strongly enough. This is what pastors and church members are to be about.

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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: Principles of War: A Handbook on Strategic Evangelism

Principles of War: Thoughts on Strategic EvangelismPrinciples of War: Thoughts on Strategic Evangelism by Jim Wilson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The author used the proven principles of war as a framework to explain the spiritual warfare of evangelism. He stretches here and there, but ends up with a thought provoking little book. I disagreed with some things and at times scratched my head wondering how some things would be practically applied. Though it is easy to bemoan the lack of evangelistic activity among many churches today, I wonder if that lack at least in part reflects a lack of proper strategizing and clarifying of objectives such that the individual Christian truly knows what they’re doing. It’s easy to look out and see problems among Christians but often the roots of the problem are not properly diagnosed and the solutions far too simplistic. I think this book is worth reading and thinking through.

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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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