I haven’t blogged in a while, so I’m going to begin a new series blogging through the book, Total Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis. I read this book two years ago and have had notes sitting around for two years. Thought I’d work through them here.
Tim Chester and Steve Timmis began "The Crowded House", a church planting movement that is centered around missional house groups committed to the gospel in community and communities on mission. They place a big emphasis on sharing lives with another and welcoming unbelievers into the network of relationships that make up the church. They grow by planting new congregations rather than acquiring bigger premises.
Chester and Timmis saw that ministry had become a production line: churning out sermons, putting on events and trying to generate another wave of enthusiasm for evangelism. If only there was a different way of doing church. They saw that so much of what they called church was good but inaccessible and irrelevant to those around them. Non-believers were not being exposed to “church”.
The focus of this book is “gospel and community”. They are committed to being gospel centered which involves two things: first, being word-centered because the gospel is a word – the gospel is news, a message. Second, it means being mission-centered because the gospel is a word to be proclaimed. The gospel is good news and is a missionary message.
They center their activities on being gospel centered in the sense of being word-centered, gospel-centered in the sense of being mission-centered and community centered. They admit that at times, a focus on community becomes insulated, me and my acquaintances talking about God. They strive to be enthusiastic about truth AND mission as well as being enthusiastic about relationships and community.
They flesh this out by
· Seeing church as an identity instead of a responsibility to be juggled alongside other commitments.
· Running fewer evangelistic events, youth clubs and social projects and spending more time sharing their lives with unbelievers.
· Starting new congregations instead of growing existing ones.