Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Blogging The Deliberate Church: Part 1

My friend, Jeff Wright, and I are reading through the book The Deliberate Church together, and decided we would also blog our way through it, too. This is my first post on the book. Check out Jeff's thoughts over at Pursuing Truth.

Does the Gospel enjoy "functional centrality" in your church? That's the question that stands out to me through my reading of two "Forewords," two "Prefaces," and the Introduction to this book. I like that question because it goes so well with the title of the book: In order to answer that question in the affirmative, we will have to be quite "deliberate" about it. But this does not mean we need new programs in our churches for putting the Gospel back front-and-center. In fact, the authors argue that "to preserve functional centrality for the Gospel, human method has to remain plain, or else it will naturally supplant the Gospel's rightful role" (p. 22).

But this also does not mean that our methods for doing church do not matter. On the contrary, our methods do matter, so much so that we must be deliberate about letting the Gospel be the power behind our methods. In chapter 1 of this book, the authors lay out "Four P's" to focus on in church ministry: Preaching, Praying, developing Personal discipling relationships, and being Patient. These four things are basic and simple, but that's the point, I think. They give the Gospel "functional centrality" in the life of the church rather than one's creative genius or personality.

One final thought for now: I also appreciate the practical ideas the authors suggest; the book is more than theory. For example, rather than simply re-stating the oft-used beginning point of Prayer, the authors give us the practical suggestion of praying through the church directory on a systematic basis. I'm writing "PI" (that's "Practical Idea") in the margin of this book whenever I encounter such ideas.


Luke said...

It is indeed a very helpful book. Our session has used that book for training for all potential elders and deacons with great success. It really helps seat in one's thinking categories for gospel-centered ministry that unfortunately, because of the state of modern evangelicalism, is often missing even from the thinking of mature believers seeking ordination in the church. Hope you are well, Ben! - Luke

Jeff Wright said...

Functional centrality is a good way of putting it. This is very different than proclaiming support for a list of doctrines in theory and then carrying out the work of the ministry according to trends of the day. Here's how Starbucks operates. Let's reorganize our programs around that. Been there, done that. Looking forward to digging into the book.