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The Living Church: Convictions of a Lifelong Pastor Hardcover – November 7, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Stott (rector emeritus of All Souls Church in London and prolific author) draws on over 60 years in pastoral ministry to outline the essential marks of a living church. Named one of Time's 100 most influential people in 2005, Stott is noted for his efforts in worldwide evangelism as well as his firm insistence on remaining an evangelical within the Church of England. Here he explores biblical approaches to worship, evangelism, ministry, fellowship, preaching and giving that lead to a healthy church, whether traditional or emerging. Stott applies New Testament accounts of the early church and the teachings of Paul to the contemporary context without compromising his evangelical vision. Urging Christians to have more impact on the surrounding culture, he concludes: There is such a thing as goodness: pursue it. The postmodern mood is unfriendly to all universal absolutes. Yet the apostle says there is such a thing as truth: fight for it. And there is such a thing as life: lay hold of it. This short, well-organized book—when Stott says there are five paradoxes to preaching or 10 principles of giving, he promptly follows through—is perhaps most useful for those clergy and laity who are directly involved in ministry. (Dec.)
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"Young pastors with a love for Jesus' church will be blessed by this timely gift from one of the most important evangelical voices." (Mark Driscoll, pastor, Mars Hill Church, and president, Acts 29 Church Planting Network)
"I have relied on John Stott's books for decades as both guides to practice and nourishment to belief. Our church, Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City, has attempted to incarnate all that I, and a generation or more of Christians, have learned from him. This new book promises to be just as helpful in navigating modern controversies and issues." (Dr. Timothy Keller, senior pastor, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City)
"While many high-profile churches come and go, All Souls, Langham Place, in the heart of London has maintained its spiritual vitality and mission commitment over many decades. Its effectiveness has depended not on a formula for success but on an unswerving commitment to fundamental biblical principles. The Living Church establishes the foundations for a biblically balanced approach to ministry that is comprehensive in its scope and expressed with John Stott's characteristic clarity. It provides a valuable resource for church leaders seeking to revitalize existing churches and for those birthing new faith communities." (Eddie Gibbs, senior professor, Brehm Center for Worship, Theology and the Arts, Fuller Seminary)
"A gem of a book, which every committed Christian needs to read. Here is the heartbeat of a godly minister of the gospel." (David Jackman, president, Proclamation Trust)
"Inspiring and nourishing reading." (Ajith Fernando, national director, Youth For Christ in Sri Lanka)
"Exceptional clarity, profound concern and strong counsel." (Dick Lucas, rector emeritus, St Helen's Bishopsgate, London)
"The reader is given a vision for a church whose roots are deeply biblical and whose touch reaches a dying world." (Amy Orr-Ewing, Zacharias Trust)
"Vintage Stott: faithful, rigorous biblical exposition; crystal clarity; challenging contemporary applications with plenty of punch; great wisdom." (Vaughan Roberts, author, God's Big Picture)
"Gold on every page." (Richard Bewes, rector emeritus, All Souls Church)
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Top Customer Reviews
The book itself is well-written and accessible in style and length. It covers many of the challenges of the church, both locally and internationally. Chapter topics include: ESSENTIALS, WORSHIP, EVANGELISM, MINISTRY, FELLOWSHIP, PREACHING, GIVING, IMPACT as well as three historical appendices. Many cluster groups and pastoral ministry teams will find this a valuable course of study in evaluating and establishing a ministry which is faithful to the kingdom and relevant for today's world.
If the material in Stott's book has been said elsewhere then it is obviously being ignored, for the simple fact of the matter is that his reflections are quite timely to the current situation and needs of the Western church. No, he does not get bogged down in the many techniques and theories of church growth and community life (that is the very reason I chose this book - I avoid churchy how-to books like the plague they usually are). Stott's wisdom here is that he does stay rooted in the biblical text without losing relevance to a contemporary world (that is the very reason why I recommend this book).
One quote: "This is a splendid Trinitarian truth about the church, namely that it belongs to God the Father, has been redeemed by the blood of Christ his Son, and has overseers appointed by God the Holy Spirit. This fact should humble us" (83).
John Stott, now in his eighties, has had a worldwide influence on evangelicalism through his writing and ministry at All Souls Church, Langham Place. Time magazine has recognized him as one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World." He has had a massive impact on evangelicalism. When I heard that Stott had recently written a book articulating his vision for the global church today, I knew I would have to read it.
Stott is no curmudgeon. He is surprisingly open to newer forms of churches. "It seems to me that traditional and 'emerging' churches need to listen attentively to one another, with a view to learning from one another...We could both afford to be less suspicious, less dismissive of each other."
Stott argues that we need more churches that are radically conservative - "conservative" in the sense that they conserve what Scripture plainly requires, but "radical in relational to that combination of tradition and convention which we call culture." He then outlines and expounds a number of characteristics that must be preserved within an authentic or living church: worship, evangelism, every-member ministry, fellowship, preaching, giving, and impact on society.
Stott concludes with an appeal for Timothy's in this new century. Echoing the apostle Paul, he writes: "There is such a thing as goodness: pursue it...There is such a thing as truth: fight for it. And there is such a thing as life: lay hold of it." Ministry must integrate doctrine, ethics, and experience.
The Living Church includes three appendices: a paper outlining Stott's reason for remaining within the Church of England; part of a sermon from 1974 outlining his dreams for a living church; and some reflections offered after his eightieth birthday.
The Living Church is not trendy. There is little in this book that will seem new. It is instead a call to the basics, offered with pastoral insight and wisdom. It is a call to turn away from quick fixes and instead focus on the basics of church life. It deserves careful reading and application by all who share Stott's dream of a living church.