Monday, September 12, 2011
Review: Dangerous Church by John Bishop
It's sometimes easy to forget that the church as Jesus envisioned it is to be an unstoppable force, a relentless love-giving pursuer of the hearts of humanity for Jesus Christ. When Jesus ascended to heaven he left his followers to continue the task of making disciples. As Paul said to the Corinthians, "We've been given the ministry of reconciliation as if God were making his appeal through us." Surrounded by countless people suffering from separation from the God they were created to know and love and journey and enjoy life with, the church can't be a silent entity, but instead a life-giving and hope-generating force in a dark world. The church as Jesus envisioned it risks everything to reach everyone, and that is the premise of John Bishop's book DANGEROUS CHURCH.
John Bishop is the senior pastor of Living Hope Church, a multi-site church he planted in Washington, and DANGEROUS CHURCH is a moving journey through his experiences of pastoring a church that takes great risks to reach people with the gospel. Bishop peppers in among his personal stories his recommendations for a church to become a dangerous church.
The book is broken up into four sections:
• Risk Everything
• Reach Everywhere
• Release Everyone
• Remember Only God
The book could be summarized by the call to making introducing unbelievers to Jesus the primary focus of the church. That is the heartbeat of God, so it should be ours also. If the church hopes to draw people to Jesus, then it must be defined by grace.
Bishop believes the church needs to put an incredible amount of focus on its weekend services to make them welcoming of unbelievers who are invited by members. He seems to see this as the primary way to introduce people to Jesus. While I agree that the church needs to provide a nurturing environment for unbelievers, I wish he would have talked more about the evangelism that takes place outside of a church building when people share their faith and people respond to it...then they get involved in a church. Churches need to be ready to communicate the gospel any given weekend, but church members need to be prepared any given day to communicate the gospel outside of their church. Without that kind of equipping, it seems that members will rely on church leadership to the evangelism of people they've already built relationships with.
I loved the chapters on communication of the gospel and hiring the people that Jesus would hire. The book is packed with motivating insights to be a church that people encounter God in. Bishop clearly cares deeply about his church and his love for God bleeds through every page. DANGEROUS CHURCH is an important book for churches who want to be a culture-shaping force in the world.
I received this book for free from Zondervan for review.