Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Creature of the Word

I just completed my reading of the book Creature of the Word (subtitled The Jesus-Centered Church) by authors Matt Chandler, Josh Patterson, and Eric Geiger. This book, which came recommended to me by a couple of different folks, has as its main theme the notion that many churches have lost sight of their main goal, which is to make every aspect of their existence about the gospel. Whether it is how they approach their sermons, their music, their greeters, their budget, or their community and foreign missions, the gospel must be at the foundation of everything. They state:

"The more a church is tapped into the gospel, the more transformative power will be present by the Holy Spirit in that church. But the more that church gets away from the centrality of the gospel, the more a church will run on fumes, seeing people conformed to a pattern of religion rather than transformed by the Spirit of God."

O.K. fine, this notion is eminently reasonable, so what was it about this book that made me so eager to be done with it once I started my reading? The point is that this book was billed as being written mainly as a tool to help equip church leadership refocus their efforts away from what may be viewed as the grind-it-out day-to-day considerations of operating the business end of the church and doing its usual Sunday show, back to where they should have their full attention, namely on building up the name of Jesus. However, my issue is that this book offers very little in the way of practical steps and clear examples. Too often it falls back on simplisitic statements about faith and the basic story of the Bible. I cannot imagine this approach would lead to pulling in the sorts of folks they are trying to attract.

It seems to me that any church leader would be sorely disappointed if after accepting the premise of this book to have read several hundred pages, wading through heartfelt calls and emotional pleas to make everything about Jesus, only to hit the end and never once be given any concrete advice on how to make this a reality or even where to begin. I really am just left scratching my head over the point of this book and what the authors were hoping to accomplish. Because it was so frustratingly obtuse, impersonal, and bland, I wouldn't even recommend this one as a devotional for private study.