On Reading Mel Lawrenz Whole Church: Book Reflection

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Most of us are looking for ideas that work or guidance that makes sense in our context. Yet there are very few immutable ideas that can be easily transferred from one situation to another. We live in a dynamic world in relationships that change as individuals, families and communities change. But in this world where chaos is just around the corner there are ways of negotiating life (or to use another image, sailing through the waters) that keep us moving in the right direction.

Reading Mel Lawrenz WHOLE CHURCH (Jossey Bass, 2009) gives us with guidance for such sailing or negotiating in the churches life. In church council we are always concerned about vision in the life of the church. We are also concerned about building unity in our common life. This book addresses both. His vision is summarized as “engaging God, God’s people, community, and mission to the world”. These are the main heading of his conversation on vision. Then he tackles how these overarching themes play out in the ordinary life of the church.

For instance, at one point he takes about the various dynamics that can lead to fragmentation. My word for it would be chaos. He observes that while all of us as church leaders talk about building community the fact is there are powerful forces in us and in our modern lifestyle that work against it. I agree. So often we need to overcome unfortunate words spoken. Our progress is undone by lack of faithfulness. Our desire for mutual service is undermined by someone wanting control. Chaos is just around the corner. Engaging with one another in building community requires persistent effort and uncommon grace that comes from the Spirit. He gives practical suggestions at the end of the chapter.

I enjoyed reading his book and recommend it. When you consider his input and wonder about the life of your congregation, you will find refreshment in your leadership journey. A gift in the communion of saints.

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