We believe that in order to be leaders, sending churches and sent ones must also be learners. In our aim to help every church see themselves as a sending church and every Christian as a sent one, we want to recommend great books to help along the way. The following is book we heartily recommend to churches who are reclaiming their birthright as the leaders in Christ’s mission. Today's book is Everyday Church: Gospel Communities on Mission by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis.
I don’t know about you, but when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner I want to sit at the table of someone who knows what they’re doing. Truth be told, over the river and through the wood to Grandmother’s house we go because Grandmother has roasted a bird or two in her day. And the trusted smorgasbord that she lays down never fails to leave an impression.
Don’t you want the same tryptophan-induced satisfaction when you finish a hearty book? I mean, for all the shortages in Western churches today, there’s no lack of books. So you’ve constantly got to sift through good options to find the cream of the crop. Thus we lay this week’s platter before you smothered with none other than Tim Chester and Steve Timmis’ Everyday Church. And here are the trimmings.
Let’s just say the authors are in the trenches. Chester and Timmis certainly have their leadership and scholarship credentials (insert Acts 29 Western Europe and Porterbrook Network), but what may perhaps be more meaningful to you is their everyday labor as pastors in their local church, The Crowded House. My own church has partnered with them over the past few years, and I can confess on our behalf that we have witnessed and benefited greatly from their practice of what they preach. Forget about ideals and theories, they’re doing it. And maybe a better way to put it is they’re doing it upstream. Rooted in Sheffield, England, Chester and Timmis are natives of marginalized Christianity. They’re applying the Scriptures in a post-Christian context – the kind of context that we’re only beginning to admit is ours too in the US. At the very least pick up Chester and Timmis for their insight into how a Christendom mentality still silently pervades our worldview and ministry. That alone should whet the ol’ appetite.
The book is actually just a stroll through 1 Peter. One reviewer even says that he files Everyday Church in his commentaries. The idea of the church maneuvering in a straight up disinterested society sounds like a hip Euro paradigm, but it’s actually trumped by about twenty centuries. In their own words,
The New Testament is a collection of missionary documents written to missionary situations. It was written by Christians living on the margins of their culture…Peter was writing to Christians who found themselves “strangers and exiles” in the first-century Roman Empire…we offer some missional reflections on 1 Peter to explore what the Spirit would say to the Western church today (10).
Like a loosened belt-notch or two, you’ll probably walk away from this book affected. Senior pastors may preach differently after seeing some of their personal clinging to Christendom. Small group leaders may more confidently lead their crew to engage with people by celebrating culture instead of subculture. Counselors may sense that the pressure’s off in light of believers’ ability to offer gospel care to one another. Mission leaders may begin to see an entire church of evangelists rather than the few sent overseas. As Chester and Timmis put it,
One of the key benefits of everyday mission is that it enfranchises each and every one of us. Everyday mission requires everyday missionaries rather than superheroes of the faith. We need to recapture the sense that gospel ministry is not something done by pastors with the support of ordinary Christians but something done by ordinary Christians with the support of pastors (96).
Go ahead. Eat up.