I found Total Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis (Crossway Books, 2008) to be a wonderful and challenging book. There are some aspects of theology that I would disagree with Chester and Timmis. But that might be the reason I’ve been so challenged to contemplate how this book should impact my life.
Chester and Timmis are the co-founders of the Crowded House in Sheffield, UK. The are proponents of smaller, more intimate church communities developed predominately through church planting.
I really respect the belief that the church is at its core Gospel Centered and Community Centered. (Although I do wish they would have found a better way to word that because you really can’t have two centers.) What I took out of this book is that with everything that we do in the church or in our lives (which are really the same thing if you are to follow Jesus) should be considered with respect to missionality, truth in the Word and how it relates to the community of God. I appreciate the movement away from the individualistic mindset of modern evangelistic church toward a theology of community.
I’m not sure I would connect this theology as tightly with Calvinism as they do. They do this implicitly, not in any direct statement. More by quoting Calvin as the authority in key arguments. In the end, it seems to me to be closer to a heritage of the anabaptist. I’d suggest contemplating this alongside Stanley Grenz Theology and the Community of God.
As a result of reading this book, I’m doing more research on the theology of community as developed by Grenz, William Klein and the Crowded House. Also, I will be challenging my church staff to re-consider the theology of all of our church programs and visional work. My goal would be to assure that we are developing as a Gospel community ourselves.
I would also love to see our next step moving toward planting. How exciting would that be.