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VINE VOICEon October 7, 2012
Recent years have seen an increase in books and blogs on what the church is and how we can move from being primarily focused on just programs to focusing on what the Bible teaches about what a church should be. Continuing in this recent trend is seasoned Pastors Tim Chester and Steve Timmis wrote Total Church and now Everyday Church. Total Church argued that the Christian gospel and the Christian community should be central to every aspect of life and mission. Everyday Church builds on that foundation by calling for the Church to be an everyday church with an everyday mission. The focus of this book is a call to shift our focus from putting on events to creating attractional communities. This book calls Christians to rediscover the missional call of the people of God in order to recover witness to Christ muddied by nominal Christianity. The book does this by expositing the book of 1st Peter a book that calls Christians and the Church to be in the world but not of the world by being salt and light in the world.

One of the things I appreciated the most about this book is the following statement: "We need to do church and mission in the context of everyday life. We can no longer think of church as a meeting on a Sunday morning. We must think of church as a community of people who share life, ordinary life. And we cannot think of mission as an event that takes place in an ecclesiastical building. Of course, there will continue to be a role for special events, but the bedrock of mission will be ordinary life. Mission must be done primarily in the context of everyday life. An everyday church with an everyday mission" (28).

What I just quoted is a need perspective in the current conversation on the nature of the Church. The Church has been charged with a message that reaches the lost, mends the broken hearted and calls the hard-hearted out of rebellion and into the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christians are not to be "church-hoppers", or isolate themselves in a "Christian cliché" or even isolate themselves at home on Sunday or throughout the week, but rather to join in genuine heartfelt worship and fellowship with God and one another in community with the people of God. The point of "an everyday church with an everyday mission" is an important one because many think that everything is to be done by the elders, deacons and Pastors of local churches when in fact the average lay person preaches far more through how they work, and how they live to the lost in their work places everyday than church officers ever do. The fact that Christians have been charged with a mission from God and empowered by the Holy Spirit means they are to take seriously the message and adopt a lifestyle that conforms to the message they believe (the Gospel). It's not just a "Gospel life" that we are to live, but rather a life that is founded upon the Gospel that impacts the way we live.

Everyday Church is a helpful book that builds upon the foundation of Total Church which helped me think through more of what a Church should be like. Everyday Church is equally an important book that needs to be considered by those thinking through what the Church is and how we can reach our culture for Christ. At the heart of this book as with at the heart of what Christians are to proclaim is the Gospel. What we believe about the Gospel must affect how we live. Thankfully this is precisely where Everyday Church excels at balancing what we should believe with how we are to live which in and of itself is needed in contemporary Christian thinking. I recommend seminary students, Pastors and lay Christians read Everyday Church to gain insight into how the Gospel should ground our lives in Christ and also our witness to the world for the Gospel.

Title: Everyday Church: Gospel Communities on Mission (Re: Lit Books)

Author: Tim Chester and Steve Timmis

Publisher: Crossway (2012)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Crossway book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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on September 30, 2012
In short, this book is excellent, buy it and read it.

Gospel Communities are defined as "a group of people with a shared life and a shared mission."

It offers practical insight as it walks you through the book of 1 Peter. The insights are not theories as the authors actually live this out in their church community. It is also a call for Christians to live with everyday Gospel intentionality.

Contents Include:
Intro
1) Life at the Margins
2) Everyday Community
3) Everyday Pastoral Care
4) Everyday Mission
5) Everyday Evangelism
6) Hope at the Margins
Conclusion: Next Steps

The book isn't very long, is an easy read and well worth the time.

I also highly recommend Total Church as well as A Meal With Jesus.
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on March 20, 2013
Fair warning. I am a huge fan of just about everything that I read from Tim Chester. It's borderline "fan boy" status. Some people like Piper or Driscoll or Warren or other authors a lot. I like Chester a lot. What he writes about the gospel and about community resonates in my soul.

So you should be not be surprised that I read his latest book, written with Steve Timmis, and loved it. Actually, I love Steve Timmis too.

Their new book, Everyday Church: Gospel Communities on Mission, is really a continuation of the gospel-centered missional community that they wrote about in their phenomenally helpful book, Total Church. You might remember that Total Church was one of the four church planting resources that I thought every planter should own.

The book is super gospely (is that a word?), super community oriented, and super missional. It chapters are as follows:

Life at the Margins
Everyday Community
Everyday Pastoral Care
Everyday Mission
Everyday Evangelism
Hope at the Margins

What's so great about the book is that it tackles these subjects byway of expositionally working through 1 Peter.

If you are interested in learning more about missional communities within the Reformed evangelical stream, this is a good introduction. Chester and Timmis are winsome, engaging, experienced, and mindful of how they can be used to help the churches that are outside of their specific tradition. Will you agree with everything they say? Well, do you agree with everything that anyone says? Probably not. But you will benefit from this book! Highly recommend!
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on January 7, 2013
Every Day Church is a practical and challenging call to live out the Gospel in Community. Chester and Timmis use the book of 1 Peter as their plot line for this book.

The Chapters include; Life at the Margins (1:1-12), Everyday Community (1:13-2:8), Everyday Pastoral Care (1:22-2:3), Everyday Mission (2:9-3:16), Everyday Evangelism (3:15-16), Hope at the Margins (3:8-5:14).

Chester & Timmis argue that 21st century Christianity is similar to 1st century Christianity in that we are at odds with the prevailing culture, we are strangers to the ways of the world and if we really live out the high calling of Jesus we will most likely face questions as to what we are doing (and why?) as well as persecution.

As the authors argue, we cannot be content with programs, buildings and a "build it and they will come" attitude. More and more Americans are growing up with no biblical literacy and no understanding of the Jesus of the Bible. We must go out to them and meet them where they are.

Living the Gospel for Chester and Timmis seems to boil down to properly understanding the Gospel and its implications for everyday living and the uber important concept of Christian community.

While this book may be considered part of the missional church/church planting spectrum I would argue that Chester and Timmis go beyond that. Yes, they give biblical understanding to those ideas but they do so much more and that is why I heartily recommend the book.

As I was reading last night, I realized this is a commentary on 1 Peter (I need to re-file where it is in my library!). However, by about half to three quarters of the way through the book I had to stop again and say - wait this is Biblical Counseling. Yes the book is a top read because it combines exegesis, commentary and application of 1 Peter with real Biblical Counseling in addition to being a manual on community, discipleship and church planting.
The Chapter "Everyday Pastoral Care" is worth the price of the book (as are several other chapters!). In this chapter five principles of community-based, gospel-centered, mutual pastoral care are explained.

1. We pastor one another in everyday life

2. We pastor one another in community

3. We pastor one another over a lifetime

4. We pastor one another with grace

5. We pastor one another with good news

The beauty of this chapter is the challenge, not to dispense with 'the Pastor' but to realize that we are all called to 'pastor' each other, to be a regular part of each others lives - challenging and equipping one another in love (deep love).

Additionally, four liberating truths are presented (these alone are food for life). Because we tend to regularly exchange the truth of God for a lie (Romans 1:24-25) we must be constantly reminded that;

1. God is great, so we do not have to be in control.

2. God is glorious, so we do not have to fear others.

3. God is good, so we do not have to look elsewhere.

4. God is gracious, so we do not have to prove ourselves.

The following indicators of our tendency to violate these principles are outlined in a separate blog post.[...]

The Chapter on Everyday Mission challenges us to get out into the world and interact with our neighbors and make new relationships. Go for a walk and talk to someone, invite people over for dinner (not just your Christian friends).Ten questions are provided to help us evaluate ourselves in this area.

The Chapter Everyday Evangelism provides a very helpful and much needed method of re-thinking our approach to bringing people to Christ. For people who have no understanding of the degree to which they are separated from God, but do recognize the struggles in life, Chester and Timmis provide a framework based on Creation (My Identity), Fall (My problem), Redemption (My solution), Consumation (My hope) in which they provide examples to re-orient our thinking to better understand what is really going on under the surface of peoples lives (and our own) as we cry out in frustration, usually demonstrating false views of Creation, Fall, Redemption and Consummation.

This paradigm is then connected with the Liberating Truths prevented early, demonstrating the wholeness and Gospel contentedness of this approach and the book in general.

If we want to see a movement of God in America in the 21st century then we must get back to basics - genuine understanding of the Gospel and its implications for how we live life, daily community where we help each other grow in Christ, public not private demonstrations of Christianity, all driven by a deep love - first for Christ and then for others.
Great book! Read it and then Practice it!
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on March 10, 2013
The church in the west is terribly flawed and it shows in so many ways. Consumerism, rugged individualism and privacy have all crept their way from the world into the church. It's sad and not the way God meant it to be.

This book is a follow up to Total Church, but it is not necessary to read Total Church first. I probably would read it first if you plan to read both. They cover similar matierial from different angles.

I wholeheartedly agree with the over glowing reviews here and don't feel the need to restate it all, but I would say the highlight of the book for me was the chapter on evangelism and how the authors positioned people's story in contrast to God's story in the Creation/Fall/Redemption/Consummation model. It really is a brilliant way to interpret people who you meet and I need to do it more. I have used the approach not only evangelistically but also in the counseling I do.

If you are interested enough in the book to be reading this review then you ought to buy it and read it. If you get hooked like I did you will be done in a week and it could change your whole philosophy of ministry in practical, everyday ways.
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on January 16, 2013
This book was a little slow for me. There were times it was hard to get into but once I got going I found the book to very informative and was even able to use it to quote in a recent sermon. This is not a book I would recommend to a new convert, or a young Christian. However, if one is eating meat than this book is well worth the look. It is not a fully exegetical look at 1 Peter but uses it as a guide in how it breaks up the material. They make a great point about suffering in this life and how far to often people expect life to be full of warm fuzzies and ice cream. According to Chester and Timmis, "Rather than assume we should have a voice in the media or on Main Street, we need to regain the sense that anything other than persecution is an unexpected bonus,"(pg35). This work is full of great quotes and I would recommend you check it out.

I was given a free copy of this work from Crossway in exchange for my fair and honest review and did not have to give a positive review.
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on January 7, 2014
My Missional community read this together. There are prompting questions and awesome points that pushes me towards Jesus, not a curriculum, not legalism, but loving and doing what you already do with a missional intent! I recommend it to individuals and house churches alike!
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on December 19, 2012
This book covers living at the margins, everyday community, everyday pastoral care, the mission, evangelism, and hope at the margins. Finally, where to go from there...

What is the margin? Chester explains the margin as being where his grandmother is. When she was younger, she moved into a newer building and became part of a church that had attendance in the hundreds. Now, in her elderly years, she is part of the same building and same church, but only a handful of people are there - most of them from the original times. Chester believes that Christians are at danger of being on the margin. The culture today isn't focused around G-d or His precepts. Church isn't an active role in the lives of most people. Christ isn't a person, but a swear word. Nevertheless, our approach to church, the Gospel, and evangelism hasn't changed: it is still the same as the Christian nation era.

The argument for this book is to find people in the context of their everyday life, not try to steal them away to a Sunday service they have no interest in. Our mission should not just be about the Christian Gospel, but also be about creating and maintaining the Christian community. It's no longer about events, but the community. Instead of a focus of holiday services, maintain community-based get-togethers. We need to get out of the margin that this book asserts we are in. And Chester's primary argument? Reconnect with the Bible.

I don't disagree. This seems on par, and is worth investigating. Primarily, though, for the review purposes of this review, I should comment on the book's qualities. Having read the advanced reading copy, I like the voice that is provided in the book. There is a clear mission statement and arguments toward that goal, with an easy voice that is encouraging and motivating. This book has the elements it needs to be successful. Theologically-speaking, though, this book will present challenges for all readers. Any book that necessitates change will do that. So, will you embrace it, or trash it?

Disclosure: I was contracted to write an honest review in exchange for a reviewer copy of the product. The opinions stated in this review are solely my own.
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on November 18, 2012
I love to read. If I do not particularly like a book, then I tend to read it in fits; I pick it up and put it down repeatedly over a period of weeks or, if it is really bad, months. If I do like a book, I read it like a starving man at a feast. I read it late into the night and pick it up early the next morning. I read it between meetings (and sometimes during them). I measure the time it takes me to read these books in hours not weeks, or months; in fact, I read so fast that when I am finish, I find myself disappointed by the suddenness of it all. However, if I find a book that truly challenges me and seems to be capable of changing me in worthy and noble ways, then I read that book slow - painfully slow. Such was the case with Everyday Church.

Early on, Everyday Church promised to be a book worth reading slow. It wasn't an arrogant or explicit promise - like some huckster's money back guarantee. It was more deft than that. It was an implied promise, a promise of quiet confidence. And it was absolutely true. Everyday Church was worth reading and it was worth reading slow.

Inside the pages of Everyday Church, authors Tim Chester and Steve Timmis carefully exegete the book of 1 Peter and expose its missional heartbeart. The result of their careful exegesis is not a commentary or a collection of sermons. It is much too awesome for that. It is really a manifesto of sorts; a summons to live life inside of missional communities. The authors begin with the painful truth that Christianity no longer enjoys a privileged status in the West. Like the early church, we live life on the margins ... and that is exactly where we should be. They then spend four chapters covering the behaviors of missional communities living life on the margins: community, pastoral care, mission, and evangelism. Their conclusion: there is hope at the margins.

There are too many incredible passages for me to quote them all, but one in particular was an incredible help to me. The following excerpt is from the chapter "Everyday Evangelism."

"The primary way we interpret life is through stories. Everyone has a gospel story. Everyone. Everyone has their version of salvation. They are gospel stories in that they purport to offer good news. In other words, there are secular gospels as well as religious gospels.
We can use the framework of creation, fall, redemption, and consummation or new creation as four points of intersection--four points at which people's stories intersect with the gospel story. Obviously people do not use the categories creation, fall, redemption, and consummation. But they will talk about who they are and what they are meant to be (creation). They will talk about what is wrong with them or what is wrong with the world--somebody or something will be blamed (fall). They will also have a sense of what needs to happen for things to be put right (redemption) and some sense of the state of affairs that they are hoping will give them meaning or satisfaction (consummation)."

So if you are a pastor, a small group leader, or someone just interested in doing church better, then you need to read this book.
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on October 7, 2012
Steve Timmis and Tim Chester are passionate about the church being the church. I love this passion. I think we need more of it. This passion is on full display in Everyday Church. I will admit there were moments as I read through this book that I wondered if my review would be positive or more mixed, but I kept reading and I am glad I did.

I know there are many different models of church currently being deployed in the world today. There are the various incarnations of seeker churches, whether they follow the Willow Creek Model, or the Purpose Driven Model, or the Andy Stanley model, or are just an attractional amalgamation of all of them. There are the more incarnational churches. There are still some thriving traditional churches. There are house churches and there are churches that are a strange mix of all of these. I knew before I opened the cover of this book that these two authors fall fully within the house church camp. My own ministry philosophy is in a different camp, if I had to classify it I would say it is more incarnational, but with a few differences. I say all this to say that I knew I would be stretched and challenged as I read. I have gleaned much from Chester & Timmis's previous book Total Church, so I read with anticipation.

I was immediately challenged as to how believers should be being the church every day, not just on Sunday. I was pushed to consider new ways that we can bring community, pastoral care, mission, evangelism, and worship to our lives between Sundays. There was a point I was wondering whether or not the authors were elevating all of this above corporate worship. This is where I was unsure as to what nature this review would take.

I still kept reading though and was pleased to see in the conclusion the authors say that weekly corporate gatherings are important. I believe we can learn much from the house church practitioners and we should be incorporating their principles for pushing the light of the Gospel into the dark places of the world. However I believe we can never do this at the expense of weekly corporate gatherings and I was pleased to see Chester & Timmis declare this as well.

I received this book in ebook form from the publisher, Crossway, for the purpose of review with no requirement to write a positive review.
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