Life at the Margins: A review of Everyday Church

Can we effectively be the church once a week?

That is the question that Everyday Church seeks to answer. By walking through 1 Peter, Tim Chester and Steve Timmis challenge our thinking on church. And it is a challenge worth hearing.

Their framework, which comes from 1 Peter 1:1, is that Christians need to consider themselves exiles. Chester and Timmis talk at length about how we are living in a ‘post-Christian era.’ Yet, many Christians and churches continue to operate as if we are living in a Christian culture. They write, “We can no longer assume that if people want to find God or discover meaning or cope with a personal crisis they will go to church.”(19) Their argument is that despite the reality of our culture, we continue to operate as if we can continue to reach it by doing church ‘the way we always have.’ Obviously, we cannot.

So, what is their solution? Everyday church. Doing community, pastoral care, mission, and evangelism as if we are group of people living on the margins, because we are. They argue that a once a week church service is insufficient to take the gospel to our culture. We need to live intentional lives of everyday gospel community. That is, they argue, how we are going to take the gospel to a world that does not want to hear it.

Some might be uncomfortable with Chester and Timmis’ low view of institutionalized church (see pgs. 183-184). They do take time to address these concerns. They state that most churches make primary the Sunday or once a week gathering which naturally makes the everyday community of Christians a secondary and lesser concern. They want to see a flip flop of priorities; make the everyday community of believers primary and the once a week gathering secondary, though not unimportant.

While most of the book stays away from over simplified how to’s and steps, the last chapter and conclusion do have some helpful practical ways of moving to an everyday church mindset.

The most helpful part of this book for me was the mind shift they discuss in the beginning. That is, understanding that we no longer live in a Christianized culture and adjusting our ‘strategies’ accordingly. Abilene, Texas may appear to be a Christianized city, but in reality true Christians are the minority. We are exiles and we live life on the margins.

If we begin to view ourselves as such we can make great strides in our evangelism and mission to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.

 

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