Monday, November 29, 2010

Total Church

This post is my take on Total Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis. The book was published by Crossway Books, in 2008. 

Chester and Timmis are "ministers" in home churches in Great Britain and though they say early in the book that that will not cause them to have any biases, that is clearly not the case (p. 124 for their view of Clergy). Much of what they say is good and pretty standard fare for churches who want to serve the Lord. However, they have several serious problems: First, Total Church is man centered and focused rather than God centered. This is seen in that everything in the book, called "doing church" is geared to how it affects men and what men are doing to affect men. There is only one short sentence that even mentions worship and even then it does not seek to find out what God thinks about what they are thinking and recommending (p. 86). Second, rather than being worship focused (God centered) they write that there are several other things that should be central to good church (Word, Ministry, community, Gospel, Mission, etc. p. 16, 17). On the surface, placing the Word at the center should be a good thing, but when it is used to keep us focused on what men are doing and how they are doing it, it loses its attractiveness. Third, by emphasizing community the way they effectively negate the Biblical emphasis on the family and on individuals. Finally, the philosophy of the book is very similar to the commune model taught and attempted in the 70's here in the US. Which, by the way looked a lot like a cleaned up version of leftist liberation theology.

This doesn't mean that there aren't things in Total Church that shouldn't provoke thought in the average Christian. There is much good here in terms of thinking about ministry in areas where it may not have been thought about before. There is also much good in practical ways that a church, having acknowledged that God is the center, can then move out to minister to the community.  Once you get rid of that political thinking of course.

No comments: