One of the great privileges I have had over the last couple of years has been to get to know the authors of some books which have been hugely influential to me. To be honest I wouldn’t walk across a room to shake the hand of a premiership footballer but I’d give my right hand to have a coffee with the author of a book which has really made me think. Getting to know Chick Yuill over the past few months has certainly fallen into the category of “privilege.” As a wet behind the year theological student thoroughly confused by all the talk I was hearing about “entire sanctification” his book “We Need Saints” sorted a whole load of stuff out in mind. As a new pastor of a down town church I was confronted by the reality of evil but so much of the material I read about spiritual warfare was, to be kind, simply “goofy” at best and down right harmful at worst. Once again one of Chick’s books “This Means War” helped me immensely to get my mind around the issues.
However it is his latest book on discipleship, “Moving In The Right Circles” which has been exercising the old grey matter in recent weeks. There was one section from Chapter 11 which I thought was so good I would share it with you. What Chick says here I think is exactly the prescription the ailing church in the West needs to self administer.
” So where do we go from here? …. As we walk in the company of Jesus, grow in the community of believers, engage with the culture of our times, and look to the coming of our King? We live at a time when the numerical strength of the church in the West has been decreasing. We witness a society that is torn between the pursuit of an unsatisfying consumerism and the search for an undemanding spirituality We see a world in which the rich get richer while the poor plumb ever greater depths of desperate poverty. Our governments seemingly face intractable problems of mounting debt, environmental disaster, diminishing natural resources, global terrorism and the breakdown of time honoured social structures. If some throw up their hands in horror and retreat to the safety of pious separatism, that is not the way for disciples of the coming King. We must commit ourselves to demonstrating the power of the Gospel to bring renewal.
Committed to the renewal of individuals
We believe in the redemption of individuals. We must tell the story of Jesus so naturally and persuasively that men and women will discover for themselves that here is the one great story that makes sense of their stories …
Committed to the renewal of the church
As disciples we’re committed to the renewal of the church. The question is not “Should I go to church?” but “What kind of church should we become?” …
Committed to the renewal of communities
The church doesn’t exist for itself. Our primary task isn’t to build bigger congregations, but to create a better world. ….
I think Chick has provide a great explanation here of what it means to be “missional.” That word currently it seems to me is over used and “under” understood, if you get what I mean. Chick I think sets the mission of the church in the right context, personal faith, the community of disciples and engagement not withdrawal from culture what he also does is sketch a really good summary of the holistic nature of mission.
So I want to share with you the questions which are on my mind from reading this section.
What evidence is there that my church community is committed to seeing renewal in these three areas? Are we committed to seeing change in individuals, church and society?
Does one area predominate in our church? (have a look at your weekly programme and annual budget that will tell you)
Is any area conspicuous by its absence? (see above for how to tell!)
If I have whetted your appetite I hope you will go and buy the book and see where it makes your brains itch.