I will admit, as someone who is a diehard for British spelling, the first thing I noticed about this book was the American spelling. Rumors? Something about American spelling makes me take an item not as seriously as if it had the ‘correct’ spelling (sorry, I know I’m outing myself as old-fashioned here). The wonderful thing is I couldn’t have been more wrong! This is an exciting book about the Church in the 21st Century, alive and well on planet Earth.
Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson are Australians who met at youth camp when teenagers, and subsequently attended the same youth group. They met together for early morning prayer, long before they were called individually to be a part of the Western Church. Their long and mutual friendship is what validates this book (they have known each other longer than they have known their wives), and though it isn’t mentioned, one cannot help but think of the Biblical relationship between David and Jonathan.
A tremendous amount of research has gone into this slim volume, and comparisons regularly done between what truly influences many Christians in 2011 and how the Scripture says we should live. This reveals the radical nature of the Gospel and the insidious influence of the world through things such as advertising, inordinate desire for wealth and possessions, concern over outward appearance, poverty and human rights.
“We are being persuaded to spend money we don’t have, on things we don’t need, to create impressions that won’t last, on people we don’t care about.” - Tim JacksonCultural differences are looked at with interesting insight, right from the first Church up to present day America, and it makes for fascinating reading. Easy to read and follow, this book reminds me of a meal where everything has been mixed together. The authors come alongside to gently clarify, sometimes with humour, what are the necessary meat and vegetables and what is the sugar that is addictive and adds nothing of nutritional value.
Oftentimes we are not aware of things we have been greatly affected by culturally; this book provides an excellent and timely wake up call. Rich and varied examples are provided of the Church in action according to true New Testament principles, and I found it a truly encouraging read, with a marvellous portrayal of true spiritual community.
The wonderful thing about the authors of this book is that they have put their faith into action. Darren Whitehead is the Teaching Pastor along with Bill Hybels as Senior Pastor at one of the most influential Churches in North America, Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. Jon Tyson is the Pastor of Trinity Grace Church in New York City (Trinity Grace has five Churches there; Jon and his family live in Manhattan).
The notes at the end of the book are extremely detailed and influenced by C. S. Lewis. At the end of the book there is a study on each Chapter that provides excellent material for any group to go through. I can imagine some great dialogue and debate arising from them, and highly recommend the entire book. I would give it five stars and a heartfelt thank you.
I would also like to thank BookSneeze who provided the copy of this book for me to read and review.
Raised in England, Elizabeth Young is a prolific writer from Barrie, Ontario, whose poetry has been likened to that of Emily Dickinson. Arriving in Canada on 9th April, 1977, she relates fully to the immigrant experience. In addition to poetry, Elizabeth enjoys writing prose, articles and stories and has a work in progress about her paternal Grandmother. She blogs regularly at The Garden Gate: here.
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