- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Zondervan; Complete Numbers Starting with 1, 1st Ed edition (March 17, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 031032114X
- ISBN-13: 978-0310321149
- Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.8 x 8.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,437,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Your Church Is Too Small: Why Unity in Christ's Mission Is Vital to the Future of the Church Hardcover – March 17, 2010
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“If the late Lesslie Newbigin could offer today’s Church an exhortation---a reminder from the past, an assessment of the present, and encouragement for the future---what would the old Bishop say? In what he terms “missional ecumenism,” John Armstrong proposes an answer that confronts readers with the universal shape of Christian identity.” -- Chris Castaldo
“The Apostle Paul wrote that 'maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace' among the followers of Jesus Christ is 'hard work' (Eph. 4:3). Few people know that better than John Armstrong. In a day when everything about the contemporary Church militates against oneness, John Armstrong is struggling to break down the walls we've built up so that the world can see Jesus in all His variegated richness, in the fullness of the one Body of Christ. Your Church is Too Small provides the blueprints and marching orders for a new generation of Church-builders (capital C) from among those who are building local churches in all the communions of the Body of Christ.” -- T.M. Moore
“This book maps out the painful yet liberating trek from sectarian isolation to the spirit of orthodox unity. In opening oneself to fellow believers, there is no escaping the tension between purity and embrace. No one can sort out that puzzle this side of the Second Coming. But Armstrong's book gives courage and strength for the journey. Read this book, take heart, and go forth.” -- David Neff
“Dr. Armstrong’s irenic approach should make it easy for Christians, whether Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant, to engage the challenging thesis of the book, while recognizing that there remain points of doctrine between them which will require further clarification. Anyone concerned about either evangelism or Christian unity should read this book, and take seriously its call for both mission and ecumenism.” -- Fr. Thomas A. Baima
“John Armstrong is one of those Evangelical theologians---may their tribe increase and the valley abound with their tents---who know that full obedience to Christ embraces the historical transmission through which we know Him. This book refuses to scale down the bearer of that tradition---the historical church, that is---or reduce the authority of its voice.” -- Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon
“A growing appreciation for Catholicism---the whole church, spread across the whole world---is one of the most hopeful signs emerging within recent evangelicalism. John Armstrong’s astute, heartfelt book provides excellent guidance for the 21st-century evangelical rediscovery of the classical church and its rich tradition.” -- Rodney Clapp
“Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox Christians who call Jesus Lord are obligated to fulfill His Great Commission and His New Commandment to love one another. Our lack of visible unity and ecumenical charity hinders our mission. John Armstrong’s Your Church Is Too Small is a humble, honest, and open-hearted summons to “re-size” our churches (and our hearts) by taking seriously the prayer Jesus prayed for us on the eve of His Crucifixion. May this encouraging, provocative, and practical book not only be read widely, but also be acted upon out of love for the One who saves us all.” -- James M. Kushiner
“With attention to his own pilgrimage and growth in ecclesial awareness, John Armstrong explores here the evangelical heart and ecumenical breadth of churchly Christianity. I am encouraged by his explorations and commend this study to all believers who pray and labor for the unity for which our Savior prayed.” -- Timothy George
About the Author
John H. Armstrong is president of ACT 3 in Carol Stream, Illinois and served as a pastor for more than twenty years. He is an adjunct professor of evangelism at Wheaton College Graduate School. His online commentaries regularly appear at www.Act3online.com. He holds degrees from Wheaton College, Wheaton Graduate School, and Luther Rice Seminary. He is the author or editor of a number of books including The Catholic Mystery, Five Great Evangelists, Understanding Four Views on the Lord’s Supper, and Understanding Four Views on Baptism
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Top Customer Reviews
When Armstrong says, "Your church is too small," he does not refer to the size of a church building or to the number of people who meet together. Instead, Armstrong refers to "our all too common penchant for placing limits on Christ's church - limits that equate the one church with our own narrow views of Christ's body." He has two purposes in writing this book: 1) for the reader to understand his/her own spiritual identity and 2) to better understand the mission of the church. Armstrong believes, and convincingly argues, that the two (unity and mission) are interrelated.
The book is a combination of exegesis (primarily of Jesus' prayer in John 17), historical study, personal experience, and theological reflection. The argument is based primarily on the conclusion that the unity for which Jesus prays in John 17 is not only a spiritual or eschatological unity, but a relational unity that all believers should strive to maintain.
Armstrong's book is divided into three parts: past, present, and future. In the first section, the author traces his own journey from sectarianism toward unity. He also reviews the perspective of the early church on unity given the four classical marks of the church: one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.
Next, in his section on the present, considers how the church can restore unity today. Armstrong suggests that the cause of disunity in the church today is sectarianism based on intellectual certitude. Instead, the church should be recognized as local, city-wide, and universal, with a focus on the kingdom instead of the local congregation.
Finally, in his section on the future, Armstrong recommends missional-ecumenism as a way forward toward unity. By "missional-ecumenism," the author means that believers should have relational unity with God and one another, including unity in our mission as God's "sent ones."
Throughout the book, Armstrong demonstrates that unity is more than a good idea. Instead, it is our primary apologetic. He says, "How we act and treat one another really matters, because our actions represent the nature and identity of God to those who do not know him."
Furthermore, Armstrong encourages the respect and consideration of different Christian traditions. All believers have traditions, and Christianity has a basic tradition that was handed down throughout the ages (often called the "Rule of Faith"). Problems arise when our traditions teach us that we are part of the one, true church while all other traditions are in error.
Instead of asking who is in and who is out when it comes to the church, the author recommends that we encourage active faith of all who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ.
This is an important book. I recommend it highly. However, I do not want this to be a book that I just read and encourage others to read. Armstrong describes a unity that cannot remain a concept; it must be lived. This is the direction that I've been moving, and a reality that I want to continue to seek.
Armstrong argues that Christians (while Armstrong writes from an evangelical perspective and this book may primarily be received by evangelicals, his call is to all Christians in the wide and broad worldwide church) have lost their connection to the past - the historic and unified core of the Christian faith - and to the wider movements of the church outside of any particular tradition (Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox) or denomination (or non-denomination).
Armstrong bases his work theologically and biblically in Jesus' prayer found in John 17 for unity within the community of faith, a unity which Armstrong argues must be real in relational and spiritual terms (not simply a weakened or limited understanding of unity based mostly on doctrinal agreement or denominational affiliation). While Armstrong acknowledges that "any pursuit of unity that denies our uniqueness and diversity is not positive" (92), he sincerely and strongly believes that the future of the Christian church depends on its ability to (a) find true unity based on common creeds and shared beliefs about the mission and marks of the universal church and (b) move forward in what he calls a missional-ecumenical paradigm of ministry.
I appreciated the breadth, experience, and insight which fills this book. I have experienced too many churches that accept definitions of the church that are far too local and far to small (and admit that I succumb to this myself) and believe that the kind of missional-ecumenism described in this book is desperately needed in today's church. Throughout the book, Armstrong's passion and desire for unity is evident, and he does not handle the matter lightly. Armstrong humbly acknowledges his own journey toward valuing unity while blending his personal narrative with biblical, historical, philosophical, and theological support that pushes readers to think (and act!) deeply and broadly about the nature and mission of today's church.