This book asked the right questions and challenged much of my current thinking. Basically, it asks: what’s the best form of church? And it shouts loudly against anything large and institutional, and argues for something smaller and incarnational — something that doesn’t merely invite, but goes out.
It seems idealistic. In the end, they argue for a church structure that has worked during Roman and Chinese persecutions of the church, and argue that it might possibly work here where there is no persecution. That’s where I’m skeptical: we, in the Western world, live in a time without persecution, and so these larger, more institutional forms of church do exist and provide alternatives. The fact that alternatives exist will create competitive structures against these smaller structures that the author is arguing for, making them harder to sustain.
That said, this book has a lot of insights and challenges for the institutional church today, if even to get us to stop thinking about inviting people to bigger rallies called worship services, and to think about being Jesus’ presence beyond our the walls of the church. And the author’s right: the megachurch model isn’t reproducible, and we should choose models that can be easily reproduced, like a network of house churches.
Much of these principles need to be reincorporated back into the church to remind us who we are and are suppose to be — a community that loves God and others. Yet, many of these ideas, especially if read by idealists like me, need a healthy dose of nuance and maturity to make these models sustainable.
You can view its Amazon detail page.