Here’s the final post of Dwight Bernier’s six-part review of Tim Chester and Steve Timmis’ Everyday Church. We hope these chapter summaries will whet your appetite to devour the whole book: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5.
By Dwight Bernier
At the end of the book, Chester and Timmis finish where they began – at the margins. They do a great job reminding us, yet again, that the church moves in the margins of society. But they also highlight the hope that we have there!
The opening pages of the chapter highlight the reality that suffering has in the church. The authors show Peter’s heart and the Father’s heart for those who will suffer, and remind us that regardless of what we might be suffering, “God is at work in our suffering and through our suffering” (p. 133). In all suffering, we have the care of a Father who is present with us, and who has given us a family to help point us back to Jesus when we want to give up.
Not only is the family there to point us back to Jesus, but to point others to Jesus. Chester and Timmis write:
“It is easy for the world to ignore a solitary Christian living consistently as a believer; he or she can be dismissed as an eccentric. But when a diverse group of Christians lives for Christ as a community of love and demonstrable, mutual affection, then society will find it far harder to dismiss us” (p. 134).
The community, the family, is crucial to God’s missionary endeavor.
The family of God is crucial in resourcing the everyday church as well. It does take money to do certain things, and even with a missional-community based church, leaders and resources are going to be needed. If the gospel of Jesus, who though He was rich, but for [our] sake became poor, is moving in us, then generosity towards His kingdom work will move. In the fourth chapter of Acts, we see that the gospel was causing radical generosity (in the eyes of the world) to move. There was no one in need. Chester and Timmis offer three ways that the church at the margins must be generous.
1 – Material Generosity: Money in Eternal Perspective
We use what God has given and blessed us with for what God is calling us to. One of the ways to do that (page 141) is to list out all the things that God has given to and blessed a community with. After all the skills, possessions and time have been written down, the question of “why did God bless us with all of these things?” should be asked. The community should be able to see that they have been blessed to be a blessing, and then figure out how to use these gifts for the kingdom.
2 – Relational Generosity: Time in Eternal Perspective
This section helps free us to live the ordinary and mundane things of life with other people. Hanging out, doing nothing spectacular, but with gospel intentionality is something that most people don’t think of when they think of “church”. But this is what we are to be about – the gospel in real life! Chester and Timmis challenge our identity and how we structure our lives in this lengthy quote: “If you see yourself first and foremost as a businessman or a housewife or a professional, then you will build your life around this with church as part of an orbiting fringe of activities. But if you see yourself first and foremost as a member of God’s missional people, then you will build your life around this identity” (pp. 144-145).
3 – Leadership: Pressure in Eternal Perspective
In this section, Chester and Timmis use the section of chapter five of Peter’s epistle, where Peter speaks to the elders. The authors remind us of the necessity of good leadership over the everyday church. So how does Peter’s call to “be shepherd of God’s flock” (I Peter 5.2) work out in practice? Three suggestions are made.
- The first is to lead willingly rather than out of obligation.
- The second is to lead with enthusiasm rather than with greed.
- The third is to lead by example rather than dictatorship. “Peter calls elders to lead from the front, to lead by example rather than driving from behind by command” (p. 147).
The authors highlight the need for prayer as a missionary activity. Prayer can not be something that we do when we have the time for it, but rather is something we make time for because we can’t live without it. Missionaries on the margins know that they have no way of making anything happen on their own, and their prayer life reflects their deep dependence on a Father who can move hearts as He wants. “If we think we are central to gospel growth, then our activity will always seem more urgent than prayer” (p. 148).
Since “prayer is not a support activity to mission”, our communities need to grow in this area. Chester and Timmis offer three ways they want their people to be praying.
- First, is in routine, regular, organized prayer.
- Second, they desire for their community and themselves that a reflex toward impromptu prayer be fostered.
- Third, they want to be praying for unbelievers all the time. “Prayer is itself a frontline missionary activity” (p. 149).
The chapter ends with questions that leaders and communities should work through together. These questions will help you “celebrate what God is doing among you and identify what you could together do better” (p. 149). I would recommend you and your community doing these.
Chester and Timmis desire for the church to explore what it would look like for each gospel community to live as the everyday church. They are visionaries, and so some of what they say could be scary to your situation or context. But ask the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom and insight into what it would look like for you, in your specific community and context, to start to slowly integrate more and more of everyday church into your life. I’m convinced the Spirit wants to give us more Jesus and help us work out the implications of the gospel in community and on mission. He is all about that!
May He do enormous things in your heart. And do yourself a favor, and buy the book Everyday Church. It’s far superior to the review!
This post adapted from Dwight’s blog. Used with permission.
Dwight is the church planting pastor of Initiative 22 in Montreal, Canada. He grew up in Maine and graduated from the University of Southern Maine with a B.A. in social work. He and his wife, Jessica, have two boys, Nehemiah and Malachi.