Everyday Church: Gospel Communities on MissionWritten by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis Reviewed By Jeff Brewer
Everyday Church should serve congregations throughout much of the world in the same way a scout serves an army: by bringing back news from what is ahead on the field of battle. Chester and Timmis, ministering in the post-Christian context of a very secular UK, are walking down paths that local churches elsewhere in the world have only recently realized they are beginning to tread. The authors encourage the reader to stop and consider what it means to live missionally in their local context when people are not culturally conditioned to think they need to attend church. In light of this, one of the emphases of the book is for readers to understand that “our marginal status as Christians in the West requires us to think differently about mission” (p. 85).
Rather than offering practical insights into missional living, Everyday Church stands on its own as a missional theology primer that will leave the reader pondering the implications of their study of 1 Peter and how the Word is brought to bear on mission. Different than the many “how-to” books on ecclesiology that tread the same ground but gain little traction—tell a story, give credit to God. lay out exactly how you to can have (fill in the blank) kind of church— Chester and Timmis intentionally leave their story until the end of the book. And even then, they do so with seeming reluctance because of the dangers that pastors face in taking a “cut-and-paste” approach to local mission.
sn’t provide a recipe for missional church growth, pastors and churches will be well served if the undergirding theology of mission is applied their varied contexts. While I appreciated Chester and Timmis’s generally hands-off approach to specific application, perhaps the biggest weakness of the book is in not understanding the mindset of churches that are firmly entrenched in programmatic mentality that “the meetings of the church are the church.” In other words, how does a mid-to-large size program-driven church begin to turn the ship in order to begin to think about mission in everyday terms? Everyday Church seems tailored for the church plant or younger church that is able to make small adjustments in programming and ecclesial mindset that make big changes in how people view their role as the church. In older churches, with a number of programs that may work against the premise of the book, leaders may find Everyday Church frustratingly idealistic. They write, “You cannot program un-programmed church!” (p. 92). This leads one to wonder how they define “unprogrammed” and how churches that are programed can begin to move in an “Everyday Church” direction. While this should not discourage the pursuit of a well-formed contextual missiology, the lack of instructional help in this regard may leave some frustrated and unable to move forward in applying it to their local church context.
It is likely that congregations struggle to reach out to their non-Christian neighbors not because they disagree with doing evangelism in principle, but because it seems like such a difficult, varied task that makes it hard to know where to start. What Chester and Timmis give pastors and churches is a robust theology of mission that strikes the reader as both realistic and normal, which in turn is refreshing. One only hopes that that their writing of Total Church (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008) and now Everyday Church will spawn one more book to complete the trilogy that further helps churches think about their local contexts and give even more practical ways to enact changes for the advance of the gospel in everyday settings.
Lombard, Illinois, USA
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