14 challenging quotes from Total Church by Timmis and Chester

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God is at the centre of the gospel word. Yet much evangelism tends to place people in that position. The gospel becomes skewed towards me and how Jesus meets my needs. But the gospel Jesus proclaimed is about God exercising his life-giving rule through his Messiah for his glory.

The gospel word and the gospel community are closely connected. The word creates and nourishes the community while the community proclaims and embodies the word.


People want a form of evangelism they can stick in their schedule, switch off and go home from. Jesus calls us to a lifestyle of love.


evangelism is best done out of the context of a gospel community whose corporate life demonstrates the reality of the word that gave her life.


People need to encounter the church as a network of relationships rather than a meeting you attend or a place you enter. Mission must involve not only contact between unbelievers and individual Christians, but between unbelievers and the Christian community. We want to build relationships with unbelievers. But we also need to introduce people to the network of relationships that make up that believing community so that they can see Christian community in action.


Too much evangelism is an attempt to answer questions people are not asking. Let them experience the life of the Christian community.


Major events have a role to play in church life, but the bedrock of gospel ministry is low-key, ordinary, day-to-day work which often goes unseen. Most gospel ministry involves ordinary people doing ordinary things with gospel intentionality.


But the ‘ordinary’ is only a vehicle for Christian mission if there is gospel intentionality. The ordinary needs to be saturated with a commitment to living and proclaiming the gospel. The gospel is a message, and so mission only takes place as we share that word with people. A commitment to mission through community works only if the priority of the gospel is a strong value within that community.


The communities to which we introduce people must be communities in which ‘God-talk’ is normal...This means talking about what we are reading in the Bible, praying together whenever we share needs, delighting together in the gospel, sharing our spiritual struggles, not only with Christians but with unbelievers.


People have rejected the gospel word in part because they have not been exposed to credible gospel community.


The means by which sinners are evangelized, the gospel word and the gospel community, are the means by which sinners are discipled. We continue to ‘evangelize’ one another as Christians because it continues to be the gospel message with which we exhort and encourage one another.


It is in the family of God that I am able to care and be cared for; love and be loved; forgive and be forgiven; rebuke and be rebuked; encourage and be encouraged. All of which is essential to the task of being a disciple of the risen Lord Jesus. Too often, however, churches are not contexts for making disciples so much as occasions for acknowledging relative strangers.


In our experience, most character formation and discipleship takes place through informal and ad hoc conversations. This kind of word ministry requires relationships, time and gospel intentionality.


From time to time I ask people how they have changed their views over the past few years. It is telling when people cannot think of an answer. Unless someone long ago came to a complete and perfect understanding of the Bible, it suggests people are no longer living under God’s word so that it challenges their thinking and practice.