THE MESSAGE OF THE CHURCH
Assemble the people before me
By Chris Green
‘The Bible Themes’ series of ‘The Bible Speaks Today’ range continues with this substantial volume on the Church. Christ Green, who lectures in preaching and church planting at Oak Hill Theological College, London (UK), has an obvious love and concern for the contemporary Church that comes through all he writes as he expounds the biblical teaching.
Beginning with ‘The church from eternity’ (Ephesians) and ending with ‘The church for eternity’ (Revelation), the author covers a lot of ground as he works through the main passages which relate to his topic. He also refers in passing to a number of current controversies (e.g., the nature of the Trinity, the practice of infant baptism, the use of spiritual gifts, ‘signs and wonders’, the meaning of ‘worship’, the ‘five-fold ministry’, women in leadership, etc.) without, however, always having the space to discuss them fully or adequately. Having said this, the chapter on the Lord’s Supper is particularly good (and not quite what might be expected from an Anglican!).
Readers of this journal will want to know what is said about church leadership. Under the heading ‘the church’s servants’, the teaching of 1Timothy 3 and 5 is carefully expounded and applied to the contemporary scene. Green briefly argues for women ‘deacons’ but against women ‘elders’.
At two points in the book, the author pauses to ‘put it all together’. The first time, he discusses how churches relate together and explains the four aspects: cosmic, congregational, connectional and confessional. This follows an exposition of Ephesians 4:1-6 which contains some wise words on Christian unity and the ecumenical movement. The second time there is a pause, near the end of the book, the author briefly discusses how churches organize themselves, adapting Rick Warren’s five-fold ‘purpose’ by adding a sixth element: ‘multiplication’ (i.e., church planting).
This is an extremely valuable treatment of a number of issues vital to the life and witness of our churches. I would hope that all church leaders would buy a copy, read it, discuss it with their fellow leaders, and then develop an action plan for their church. The study and action guide at the back will ably assist this process. The book would have benefited from a full bibliography—but perhaps it was already too full!
Partnership Perspectives No. 51