Book Review — The Church as Movement

When it comes to team building beyond the silly exercises of doing an obstacle course together or having some “trust fall” experience go bad on you, there is the need to actually build a team. When it comes to building a church planting team so a church is built on the basis of discipleship, there is a need to have training in place that is more than the pragmatics of how a Sunday service will go.

I talked with a friend who had been on staff at a large church. It shouldn’t shock me, but it did… they practice what to say for announcements two weeks in advance.

So, beyond the one-time experiences and the pragmatic exercise of what goes into the script of a Sunday morning service (um, I mean “worship experience”), there is a need to build a team on a solid foundation. It is to get to the WHY of what we do as a church.

J.R. Woodward and Dan White, Jr. have put together a great resource for building such a team and creating a catalyst for discipleship movements.

The book is The Church as Movement: Starting and Sustaining Missional-Incarnational Communities. (NOTE: I have received this book from J.R. through IVP for review. I am under no obligation to write a positive review.)

I previously read Woodward’s book Creating a Missional Culture and used it as a reading and reflection book with my board a couple of years ago.

This book is designed for an intentional journey for a team, then can be used in making disciples and beginning more church plants. It is a foundational book meant for replication.

Woodward and White’s goal is to move us beyond the church as an “institution” where everything is drawn to the building and instruction is given. The goal of missional movements is to empower people across the board, creating “polycentric” leadership modules where gifts flow more naturally and everyone isn’t waiting for “instruction from the top.”

The book should be used in group discussion settings and intentional time should be set aside for weekly reflections over an 8 month period. There are eight foundational ideas they want to impart that will create the proper groundwork for a church that will go forward in disciple making and eventually begin other churches.

This quote gets to the heart of the missional movement:

The church as industrial complex creates a desire to be on stage. The church as movement fosters a desire to be on the streets.

One of my biggest challenges as a pastor is trying to get people to think in terms of how they serve Christ that is not upfront. Sometimes there is still this mentality that the only meaningful way to serve Christ and “be a leader” is when you’re in front of everyone else. Training for leadership in the neighborhoods is essential.

The desire is to build the church in a way that moves us beyond the attractional gathering into something that will last.

Each section is broken down into small readings with reflection questions. It is a good pace for building solid leadership teams and seeing what the Spirit will form in gifts to the church.

I long for the Church to be a presence in every neighborhood not only in my city but every city and village in the nation. It is incarnational living where people in neighborhoods find the presence of Christ because they are living next to someone following Christ.

Solid training that brings foundational discipleship principles to a group in a way that can be reproduced is essential. This book can be a tremendous tool to find ongoing training in a way that stays accessible to people.



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