Sep 20, 2009

What Should The Church do Next?

Today I thought I would add a little book review that I have written up on a very timely little book written by the Bishop of Sheffield, Steven Croft. Enjoy

Jesus People, What the church should do next is a wonderful little read. It is very timely as it does not so much focus on styles and methods of church but puts the focus back onto the person of Jesus Christ. In a time where denominations are exploring the questions of how we need to change to reach the emerging generations, Croft gives some somewhat simple but meaningful responses. It is pertinent to point out that when Croft writes he is challenging the church as a whole community to change her ways not merely the individuals. He continually points out that the scriptures are written for the church community to read not merely individuals as is so often done in our western churches. Developing the character of Jesus is his main contention and he exhorts the church community to be showing the very character and nature of Christ as seen in Christ’s teaching on the beatitudes. He explores what it is to be called a new community. Together the community is called to be poor in spirit; a community that mourns; a people who are meek; who hunger and thirst for righteousness; who are merciful; pure in heart; a peacemaking community and persecuted for righteousness sake. It is a great challenge to in fact be like Christ. He goes on to challenge the church to be about building the church and also changing the world. There needs to be a focus on growing the disciples but also a focus on seeing God’s Kingdom established in the whole of creation. All of the change that the church is to embrace and encourage can only be done through the divine connection to Christ himself, we need to be drawing our strength from the Holy Spirit to be able to be the Jesus people that we are called to be.

I found this book to be particularly clarifying in a climate where there is so much discussion going on about emerging methodology of church. There is so much discussion that it can become overwhelming. How does a mega church such as the one I attend embrace the ideas that are displayed by fresh expressions? Well, rather than answer that question, Croft has challenged me to re-address the basics of becoming like Christ. Not only becoming like Christ as individuals but as a community of believers. This point really stuck out for me. How can my church community become more like Christ according to the beatitudes? How can the small group I attend become more like Christ according to the beatitudes? The focus is clearly off how we go about things (methodology) to being on whose character we display when going about things (Christ likeness).

Croft, Steven. Jesus People What the Church Should Do Next. Trowbridge, Wiltshire, UK: Church House Publishing, 2009.