Total Church 4: Why Gospel?

This is part 4 of the series on Total Church, by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis:

From now on there will be a slight change to this series; from now on I will be stealing ideas from others and getting them to do all the work and I can be the internet celebrity (hi, mom!). In normal speak that means I have joined a discussion group around Total Church. A shout out to Colin, Fast Mark, Lazy Craig (you had to be there, but apparently he only works 7 out of every 24 days), Kagiso, Lonely Jo (she is the only woman), Johan and Shaun. So if there appears on these posts any really good ideas they are probably not mine, but you can pretend they are. So here is what we thought of as we discussed chapter 1.

First it should be mentioned that the book divides into 2 sections. Section 1 examines the reasons why the authors can claim that gospel and community are the two pillars around which the church is built. So chapter 1 is basically examining the question – Why should the gospel be central in the church? Chester and Timmis are not saying anything new really:

1. God rules through his word: Christianity is word-centred because God rules through his gospel word. In other words the gospel is a word so the church must be word-centred.

2. God extends his rule through his word: Christianity is mission-centred because God extends his rule through his gospel. In other words the gospel is a missionary word so the the church must be mission centred.

Now who really disagrees with this? But we all agreed with Chester and Timmis that there is a significant “gap between our rhetoric and the reality of our practice.” (p32) We spent a great deal of time asking ourselves the question: “Is there something wrong with our preaching?’

a) We preach only to the head and not to the heart.

b) We don’t know our people – good teaching comes out of community

c) Hence we don’t speak in the language of our people. Someone mentioned Tim Keller saying that we ought to find out what is preventing people from hearing the word and go after that – their idols.

d) We view Bible teaching as the goal rather than Bible learning and Bible living.

e) We fail to preach prophetically to our culture – applying God’s Word to our community.

f) We have succumbed to the cult of individualism – application and teaching is always done to the individual. We do not teach to the community, convict of community idols and sin. If we value community we live in community, teach in community and apply the Bible to our community. Studying the Bible in community can help prevent us from failing to see and deal with our own blindspots, and cultural biases.

g) As a result of this we do not make disciples who live out their faith in their everyday contexts. “We pray for overseas missionaries but not for Christian electricians, builders, shop assistants and managers in our towns… We have simply not been envisioned, resourced and supported to share the Good News of Jesus in our everyday contexts.” (p35)

We ought to see being Word-centred as:

a) more than a mere accumulation of knowledge

b) We must meditate and as a community soak in the Word, and its implications for us and our community. Together we must help one another apply the word, be encouraged and rebuked by the Word, both as individuals and as a community.

c) We must create time for us to digest the Word. Not just its meaning but also its implications for us as individuals and as a community. We need to slow down. We need to make time to reason and meditate together.

d) We need to preach the biblical story as one of movement, one that calls us to get caught up with Christ and his mission. Not merely one of disconnected propositions and teachings.

e) We need to see Bible teaching as more than the organised, systematized way of learning from the Bible. We must constantly engage in teaching “on the way.” (Deut. 6)


~ by John on July 26, 2008.

2 Responses to “Total Church 4: Why Gospel?”

  1. Hey my friend. I know all the other guys. Which Johan joined up with you guys in paragraph 1?

    By the way. I hope you don’t mind me giving all these summaries to all the guys in my class as study material for our Church exam. Just see it as a bit of retribution for all those years you passed your exams using my dads notes (;


  2. This is like the mafia – you never forget a debt.

    Of course it is ok – just don’t blame me for the marks – unless you do well – then you can give me all the credit 8)

    The Johan in question was Johan Dreyer from Bothasig (your new boss?? if the rumours are true??) but he did not last – he fell out of the group quite a while ago already.

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