After being greatly challenged and provoked to much thought by the book Total Church: A Radical Reshaping Around Gospel and Community, I’ve been waiting a long time in great anticipation of the follow-up book Everyday Church: Mission by Being Good Neighbours, by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis.
Here are some quotes and thoughts on chapter 1, “Life at the Margins”:
1. The advantage of the current post-christendom context is that the church now has the opportunity to become communities focused on Jesus and his mission. Nominalism is dying and lines in the sand are being more boldly drawn. Clarity on these issues is surely a good thing. The disadvantage is that the opportunities to reach notional religious people through church services, meetings, and church activities are disappearing (13).
2. It seems a bit strong to me to say Alpha courses and Christianity Explored courses won’t reach the majority of the Western population that is unchurched (15, 28-29). I think that’s true if you do a cold-turkey one shot invitation or open your doors hoping for people to show up. But if you build friendships in the community and try to invite people from the standpoint of friendship it may even reach the unchurched who “have no intention attending a church service” (28). I maintain that people may attend a course like Christianity Explored if we love and build deep friendships with people and invite them from that standpoint. But that may actually be the point of this book. But that is speculation for me at this point. There are friendships I have with non-Christians at Shatto Recreation Center that I should invite for a course like this to see if they’d actually come.
It’s important to note that Chester and Timmis do not say that these courses will not work. They just think it will only work for the churched and notionally Christian (29). I agree, but as I state in the previous paragraph, it may work a bit more as well if used effectively in relationships.
3. We are called to do good to our neighbors and bless our cities based on 1 Peter 2:11-12 and 3:11 which quotes Psalm 34 which seems to echo Jeremiah 29:7 (36-37). I could agree with the point. It seems like a bit of a long chain to get there but I agree in principle. I take it as the principle to love my neighbors as myself, which means I will do good and seek to bless my city, because I want them to do that to me and my family.
4. We should expect to be marginalized in our culture. It’s not that we prefer it, but we should expect it and not be surprised.