Item description for Church on the Edge: Engaging Principles of 21st Century Mission Reaching the Unchurched Network by Chris Stoddard & Nick Cuthbert...
Overview Examines the culture we now live in and suggests principles upon which mission in the future should be conducted.
Publishers Description A powerful and easy to read book.This book examines how 22 church communities are finding ways to impact their local communities. It helps us to understand the culture we now live in and suggests principles upon which mission in the future should be conducted. Not a book full of ideas of what church might be, it contains real life stories of churches effectively engaging missionally within their culture, cameoing personal experiences of how individuals have found faith. Failures and difficulties faced are examined, as well as the encouragements and successes.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 7.76" Width: 5.08" Height: 0.47" Weight: 0.48 lbs.
Release Date Aug 1, 2006
Publisher AUTHENTIC UK
ISBN 186024551X ISBN13 9781860245510
Reviews - What do customers think about Church On The Edge (RUN) (RUN)?
Run Run Run...away from this book Mar 10, 2008
Stoddard and Cuthbert are right in saying the church should be about mission but forget that the church is also for the edification of believers. They have over-simplified what the church is about. In Ephesians 4 Paul speaks of God giving gifts to the church. Now why does he give these gifts? He gives them to "to equip the satins for the work of the ministry" (v. 12a). The RUN network would applaud this. However the second half of the verse is completely neglected in the book. Pastors are also given, "for building up of the body of Christ" (v. 12b). The mission emphasis has slowly blotted out any other concerns. They have become so concerned with reaching the world that the believers in the church are neglected. Biblically these two truths must be balanced. This concern for the unchurched, and little emphasis on the believers characterizes the rest of the book.
Not only do they over simply the purpose of the church but they bend over backwards to accommodate the people who are not interested in church. Their desire for relevancy has put them in a position of accommodating any and everything. There does not seem to be any firm ground to stand upon for the church. The church is there to please, to make people happy. Here are some examples:
"If you are reaching young families with kids who play football on Sunday morning, you don't disciple them by making them turn out at 10:30 a.m. every Sunday...you find a time that suits them." (29)
"If we are really interested in mission and want people to come into the church, we will need to work hard to make them feel at home." (47)
"If a 40-minute homily on a Sunday morning was once a good way for people to learn, it may not be today. The issue is whether or not it helps people learn and so to grow. If challenge through teaching or preaching does not result in change, does it have any real value? What is the point in listening to long sermons if they do not enable growth in a person's life?" (96)
This is very dangerous advice. Churches following this advice might be on the edge of neglecting everything the Bible tells us about the church. Paul warns Timothy of exactly this type of thinking in 1 Timothy 4. Paul does not say to Preach the Word if it is still working. Paul does not say Preach the Word until better forms are available. Rather he tells him to simply preach the Word. Paul knows that the Word of God will ultimately change people. Not new forms. Not new ideas. Not new models. Church on the Edge is about contextualizing. But they have forgotten that the Bible transcends culture. There are truths for the church that will never die no matter how much the tectonic plates of culture shift.
A further problem was the indistinct spiritual language. Emphasis on the spiritual and on God was abounding, but there was little talk about the death and resurrection of Jesus. Clearly this book was not meant to be a theological study, but the vagueness of the language caused concern. Unfortunately this concern was confirmed in the stories part of the book. The authors clearly affirmed an inter-faith church. The church in Birmingham called Sanctuary affirmed everyone of any and all faiths. They said: "The focus of Sanctuary is unconditional love, acceptance and forgiveness towards those of little or no faith" (p. 130). The vague post-modern spiritual language they used can easily translate into something other than Christianity.
The fundamental problem with Church on the Edge is they defined the purpose of the church from one angle. They focused too much on one aspect of what the church does rather than what it is. One of the churches in the stories section said:
"We value and love non-Christians, we have a passion to reach them, to serve them and to appreciate them. We want non-Christians to feel a part of our community, to belong to it and own it." (190)
There is no doubt that the church is meant to be missional. But missions is just part of what the church does. It sounds like in the quote above that the church is no longer comprised of believers. It is a "community" for anyone and everyone. Only once did they mention the idea that the church was meant to be made up of believers (p. 102). This is a fundamental truth about the church that was neglected. 1 Peter 2:5 says, "you yourselves like living stones are being built up a spiritual house." And all the epistles are written to the saints. The saints comprise the church. Benjamin Keach defined the church in The Glory of a True Church...as:
"A Church of Christ, according to the Gospel-Institution, is a Congregation of Godly Christians, who as a Stated-Assembly (being first baptized upon the Profession of Faith) do by mutual agreement and consent give themselves up to the Lord, and one to another, according to the Will of God; and do ordinarily meet together in one Place, for the Public Service and Worship of God; among whom the Word of God and Sacraments are duly administered, according to Christ's Institution." (Polity: p. 64)
Benjamin Griffith in A Short Treatise Concerning a True and Orderly Gospel Church defined the church as the following:
"A visible Gospel church is made by gathering divers select persons into Jesus Christ, in a spiritual body, and relation to him as their political head, Ezekiel 34:11. 2 Thess. 2:1. himself being the great Shepherd that first seeks them, an prepares them by the work of renewing grace, for such a spiritual building." (Polity: p. 96)
The church in the Bible and historically is the gathering of believers. They are to enable ministry (Eph. 4:12), but also to edify believers. Church on the Edge clearly emphasized one aspect of what the church does. The church is to be seeking the lost. And it is also to remove any obstacle that keeps them from hearing the good news of Jesus Christ. But to make this solely what the church is about is precarious.