I'm pastoring a church striving for and working through renewal, so I'm always looking for good, Gospel-centered resources to help our people grasp the realities of what that renewal involves. When Brad Byrd (The Good Book Company, Brad on Twitter: @tweetiebyrd) gave me a copy of The Gospel-Centred Church (GCC) workbook by Steve Timmis and Tim Chester at the Acts 29 boot camp in Louisville, I hoped this would be one of those resources. It is.
GCC is broken up into an introduction, three main sections and a conclusion...
- Part One: The Priority of Mission
- Part Two: The Priority of People
- Part Three: The Priority of Community
There are a total it's 18 lessons of 4-5 pages each. Each is engaging and provocative. It worked well as an individual study, but I can see greatest value in a group setting. For the most part you can read it either systematically or topically. Despite having the limitations of being a workbook under 100 pages, the authors do well to encourage us to long for and become the community the Gospel should produce.
There are six parts to each lesson. The first is a principle--the core of the lesson. A scenario is introduced to raise a dilemma in gospel ministry. Then we consider Scripture (only a reference given so you can use your own Bible) with questions, a section discussing the theology and application of the principle, discussion questions, and actionable items are finally suggested.
I enjoyed GCC. Its challenges were many: how we think about church buildings, money, community life, leadership, courage, using gifts and more. I grew progressively more convicted by chapter after chapter over this different picture of what "church" can and should be.
I most impressed by some thought-provoking statements and application. The authors were creative in making the principles practical. Specifically many of the "Ideas for action" were helpful. GCC will provoke you to be see your world in a different way because of the Gospel.
GCC will be helpful anywhere Christians are struggling with what it means to be community-focused and missional. If you are a pastor of an established church, I think GCC will be helpful for key leaders in your congregation. If you need a bit of a push out of safety and into the world, you will find encouragement here. If you need to remember the value and importance of local communities of faith, of locking arms for our mission, this is a good place to go. Small groups of various sorts will do well to check out GCC.
This is truly a workbook about a Gospel-shaped vision for the local church. If you are looking for a theological book, this isn't it. But for what it is, I found GCC useful for my own life and will be using it with some folks at Doxa.