There are lots of books about church and church life many of which I’ve found helpful but this one is a new favourite and let me explain why.
One of my consistent prayers for Aigburth is that people would see in our church a community that only God could build. One where people’s love for each other is divine and not natural, where people’s confidence in God and delight in him is inexplicable outside of the good news of the Lord Jesus. It’s been exciting to see that happen but I’m still praying it and longing for more(!) and that’s what this book is about.
Listen to how they put it:
Supernatural community in a local church is this principle being worked out hundreds of times each week. The people in our churches understand their sin. They understand the seeming absurdity – and yet reality – of forgiveness in Christ. That spark burns into love for God, which in turn creates love for others. So they love not in their own human strength, but in the supernatural strength of the one who loved them first. (page 46)
What I love about the book, and found so helpful when reading it, is the many practical ways this principle is worked out. So that it’s a conviction that the gospel builds diverse communities that shapes how you organise and structure church life, how you think about and communicate church membership and what your expectations are when you preach and pray.
One particular highlight to get you thinking is how sometimes the schedule of church activities and the busyness of members in running the church machine can foster a shallowness in relationships. So leaders and members become more concerned with “are you serving” than “are you growing”. Now of course those two can be linked, but not always and I want to be able to say to the church member in a wheelchair who faithfully prays for the church and encourages others “you’re as important as the person who manages by some superhuman feat to be on all the rota’s”. Why? Well because at the heart of our church is not a programme to run but people to be discipled, encouraged and equipped.
Again Dunlop and Dever have a whole load of practical ways to foster this culture in our churches with great sections on “Keeping it Simple” and “Keeping it Informal” as well as encouraging lives centred on the local church.
So I’m going to keep praying for our church and I’m getting a copy of the book for all our elders!
You can get a copy here.