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pastors' blog

Two Good Books on the Church

Posted on October 26, 2011

This fall I read two new books about the church that I want to recommend. The New Testament deals extensively with the local church and assumes local congregations are central to Christian discipleship. And yet so often we give the church little thought and study!

Both books are easy to read and targeted for the thoughtful person in the pew. If you had to read only one, I would recommend Reverberation, primarily because of its broader focus and shorter length. But both are worth your time and consideration.

1. Reverberation: How God’s Word brings Light, Freedom and Action to His People, by Jonathan Leeman (Moody, 2011)

Reverberation explores the central role of God’s Word in giving life to the church.  Leeman traces the way the Bible reverberates, like a sound wave, throughout the congregation. Scripture gathers, enlivens and propels the church.

I particularly appreciated the way Leeman connected preaching to other aspects of the congregation’s life together: evangelism, music, praying and making disciples. Leeman excels at helping us thinking theologically about the church in plain, engaging and practical language.

The book will deepen your love for both the Bible and the church, and tune your ear for savoring the reverberation of God’s Word in the church’s corporate life.

2. What is the Mission of the Church? Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom and the Great Commission, by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert (Crossway, 2011).

DeYoung and Gilbert wade into pounding surf of the contemporary debate over the mission of the church. What is the church’s responsibility toward the poor, social justice, and societal ills? What is God’s Kingdom and how does it relate to the local church’s calling? Is the gospel only about getting us to heaven or does it also address society’s needs?

The authors unpack these issues with balanced writing and careful handling of Scripture. They define terms like kingdom, shalom, and justice with biblical precision.  They examine key texts in their original context to understand what the Bible is, and isn’t, saying. DeYoung and Gilbert bring clarity to this often confusing and contentious discussion without flattening out or oversimplifying the complex issues involved.

This book is a must read for anyone thinking through the relationship of the church, the gospel and social justice. It will help move your thinking beyond fiery, impulsive and guilt-driven calls for activism and toward a deeper, more gospel-centered commitment to love your neighbor.

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