A Fellowship of Differents: Showing the World God's Design for Life Together
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Number of Pages: 272
Publication Date: 2015
|Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.50 (inches)|
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In this compelling book, Scot McKnight shares his personal experience in the church as well as his study of the Apostle Paul to answer this significant question: What is the church supposed to be?
For most of us the church is a place we go to on Sunday to hear a sermon or to participate in worship or to partake in communion or to fellowship with other Christians. Church is all contained within one or two hours on Sunday morning.
The church the Apostle Paul talks about is designed by God to be a fellowship of differencehow people differ sociallyand differentshow people differ culturally. God did not design the church to be a two-hour experience on Sunday but a mixture of people from all across the map and spectrum: men and women, rich and poor, Caucasians or African Americans, and Mexican Americans, Latin Americans, Asian Americans, and Indian Americans, and a mixture of people with varying personalities and tastes. The church McKnight grew up in was a fellowship of sames and likes. There was almost no variety in his church. White folks, same beliefs about everything, same tastes in music and worship and sermons and lifestyle. Because of his experience, he writes incisively and compellingly.
The church is Gods world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is Gods show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a family.
Scot McKnight (PhD, Nottingham) is the Julius R. Mantey Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. He is the author of more than fifty books, including the award-winning The Jesus Creed as well as The King Jesus Gospel, A Fellowship of Differents, One.Life, The Blue Parakeet, and Kingdom Conspiracy.
PBJonesEdmonton, AlbertaAge: 55-65Gender: male4 Stars Out Of 5A Fellowship of DifferentsAugust 20, 2015PBJonesEdmonton, AlbertaAge: 55-65Gender: maleQuality: 0Value: 0Meets Expectations: 0The kind of church Scott McKnight describes in "A Fellowship of Differents" isn't your parent's church or for that matter your grandparents' church. It's way older than that, going all the way back to the New Testament.
Scot McKnight is a theologian and a storyteller, which makes for the best combo in communicating complex concepts. The theological term for what he describes is "ecclesiology." The everyman's term is "what-the-church-is-all-about."
While what McKnight describes may seem a lot different than the church you grew up in, it's an excellent summary of what the New Testament church is all about. I think every pastor, if not every Christian should be familiar with McKnight's work.
3 Sobering Observations About Church
1. Everything I learned about the Christian life I learned from my church.
2. A local church determines what the Christian life looks like for the people in that church.
3. We all learn the Christian life from how our local church shapes us.
These three principles are McKnight's way of saying that local churches matter far more than we often know.
For most people, the church is a place we go on Sunday to hear a sermon, participate in worship and meet friends.
I agree with McKnight when he says, "Getting the church right is so important. The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together are designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a family. p.16
When it comes to God's experiment, love trumps everything. "The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." (Galatians 5:6)
Love is a great idea until...
the one you are called to love happens to be unlike you.
you see who your neighbors actually are.
you see who actually attends your church.
you see who sits next to you in church in Sunday morning.
Look around you on a Sunday morning. How many people are unlike you? How does that make you feel? The greater the dissimilarities and the greater your acceptance the closer you are to what God calls "Church."
4 Takeaways From "A Fellowship of Differents"
Here's what the future can look like for your church:
1. The church goer's challenge in 2015 is to establish a grace-created and grace-creating fellowship of differents. Entrench acceptance for racial, economic, ethnic, educational, sexual-orientation and all other kinds of differences in the DNA of your church's fellowship.
2. The formerly segregated are to become integrated. To be "in Christ" is to be joined with others who are "in Christ," to be ONE. To be "in Christ" is to be in God. "There is neither Jew nor Gentile (ethnic) slave nor free (socio-economic), male nor female (gender). For you are all one in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:28
3. Invisible people can become visible. Children, widows, those struggling with faith, the poor, introverts, those suffering from sexual abuse, dysfunctional families, PTSD, depression, anxiety can all come as they are and be welcome.
4. The story of the Bible is not simply the salvation of individuals. The story of the Bible is about the creation of ONE, faithful, saved people of God - Israel in the Old Testament and the Church in the New Testament.
The story of Babel is how God scattered people. The story of Pentecost is how God re-gathered people of all languages, tongues and tribes and united them in community.
That's the church of the New Testament for today.
I was given a free eBook by BookLookBloggers in return for this review.
bookwomanjoanOak Harbor, WAAge: 55-65Gender: female4 Stars Out Of 5What the church and Christian life should look likeJune 25, 2015bookwomanjoanOak Harbor, WAAge: 55-65Gender: femaleQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 4What is the church supposed to look like? McKnight notes that the church we grew up in has a great influence in how we see the church and the Christian life. He wants us to rethink both of those concepts.
He uses the illustration of a salad bowl. He suggests all kinds of differents coming together in fellowship is the church God intended. He reminds us the early church was made up of people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and social groups. That's how God designed the church to be. He knows it's not easy. But that's the point. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a family.
Rather than a mixed salad, the church today is like a plate with all the salad makings separated and distanced from each other. Most individual churches seem to be all the same, all lettuce or all tomatoes. Ninety percent of churches draw ninety percent of their people from one ethnic group.
If the church is supposed to be a mixed salad, then what is the Christian life to look like? He explores several areas. Grace welcomes people and makes a place for them and means that the church is a place for transformation. Love is a commitment to be with and for, benefiting others. It is a reflection of how God loves us. Table signifies the coming together, the unity, transcending differences, sharing life. Holiness recognizes the work of God. It means devotion to God and learning to avoid sins. Newness represents freedom from the shackles of sin (but it doesn't mean we get to do what we want). Flourishing is living in the Spirit Who gives gifts and transforms and produces fruit (including suffering).
McKnight includes a number of stories illustrating how some of these aspects of the Christian life have been lived out. He has added some commentary, such as a section on politics.
This would be a good book for church boards and pastoral staff to read and discuss. There are no questions included to stimulate discussion. There are also no practical suggestions on how to develop a mixed salad church nor how to develop the characteristics of the Christian life he explores. So this book would be only a spring board, perhaps stimulating church leaders to develop a vision for the church McKnight describes.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
ldesherl5 Stars Out Of 5A Fellowship of Differents by Scot McKnightJune 1, 2015ldesherlQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5This is is a highly pro-scriptive book that tells us how our local church fellowships should work. He uses the life of Paul the Apostle, who wrote many of the Epistles in the New Testament, as a background for many of his own arguments. Scot McKnight has written many books, including THE JESUS CREED, THE KING JESUS GOSPEL, ONE LIFE, and THE BLUE PARAKEET. , as well as writing commentaries on Epistles such as Galations and 1 Peter. He is a Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary, Lombard, Illinois. He begins with two chapters that serve as prologues to the rest of the book ans set the tone for this book. He then breaks the book into six parts. Part 1 is covers grace. Part 2 covers love. Part 3 covers the Eucharist and is called "Table." Part 4 covers holiness. Part 5 covers the four qualities that should be form redemption in the life of the fellowship of a local church. The last part, Part 6, covers stories and illustrations showing what this renewed fellowship will look like. This book ends with an appendix, an afterward, notes for sources, a Scripture index, and a subject index.
This book is a quick read and I read it in a matter of only days. As it is heavily pro-scriptive and loaded with what we are to do to make church fellowships work, I found it easy to think "Yeah, yeah, yeah, this is what we should do. A bunch of principles to apply." The author does realize and addresses in this book that because of our very imperfection that trying to make his ideas work would be messy. I'm glad that he asserts that the most neglected people group in our local churches are widows/widowers. But we can add to the list of neglected people those with disabilities. They were not mentioned at all in the book even though the author mentions many other people who are typically invisible and marginalized in our local churches. Culturally Deaf people in the United States, those who communicate through American Sign Language (people in Deaf communities in other countries in the West communicate in other sign languages), usually worship in their own local churches with others in the Deaf community. Now I know of a local church in my own community which, to their credit, have set up a service which is targeted to those who communicate through American Sign Language. Though many may make fun of large megachurches and televangelists, some of them have integrated culturally Deaf people into worship and teaching through the use of Sign Language interpreters. Now I know that accommodating many people with disabilities into the life of local churches will cost money (interpreters, for example, are not cheap) and other "invisible" people cost no money to the local church to accommodate so this may be why the disabled got overlooked. I do not know. The author even devotes a chapter to sexuality and addresses the current hot-button issue of the Church as we confront homosexuality and the GLBT community. I could not tell the author's own position on same sex marriage and other "GLBT rights" as his approach is so positive that he indeed affirms the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. This author cannot be accused of ranting about what he opposes because he is about shouting out for what he is for rather than screaming at what he opposes. He steers away from being controversial even when addressing hot-button topics with his positivity. This book is interesting reading and is pretty much what I expected. The title may indicate that this book is focused on accommodating those with recognized differences in the life of our local churches. He seems more concerned with integrating diverse people already in our congregations than with pulling new people in. I have long felt that there is far too little diversity in our local churches, which seem to consist of mostly Caucasian, middle to upper middle class, affluent, educated, Establishment people. I have seen it in most local churches I have visited or belonged to. I wonder if part of that is because the way we "do church" turns off those who tend to stay away, such as the poor, working-class people, those with disabilities, and those of other races and ethnicities. This lack of diversity in our local fellowships seems to be be across-the-board and to be true in most denominations and non-denominational church bodies though I know there are always notable exceptions. Jesus prayed for unity in the Church but what He meant by Church are all believers, whether they meet in a church building or in countries with no organized church buildings, who follow Him and name Him as Savior and Lord. I was not satisfied with this author seeming to link the Church with the organized local churches in our communities within denominations.
I recommend this book for every Pastor and for all church leaders. I especially recommend this book for all who sit on church boards and who control the decision-making in local churches. The message of this book is badly needed. But I do not think they will find much here for how to pull in new people. This book is about bringing unity among those who are already in the pews. Because of this author's affirming and positive approach, I recommend this book for all types of churchgoers and followers of Christ of all different backgrounds who love Christ and want to see their local congregations become more diverse.
I received this book free of charge from Book Look Bloggers, in exchange for my honest review of this book. I was not required to give a positive review of this book.
GiniBDallas, PAAge: 55-65Gender: female4 Stars Out Of 5A Fellowship of DifferentsMay 23, 2015GiniBDallas, PAAge: 55-65Gender: femaleQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 4Everything I learned about Christian life I learned from my church. Most of us can agree with McKnight on this quote, but is what we learned the way the church was supposed to be? And for that matter bringing down to the personal level, the way Christian life was supposed to be? McKnight looks at those questions in this book. As the title hints at his answers call for some adjustments in church as usual.
McKnight has taught for a number of years and I think that is what makes this book so readable. Its deeper thought-wise than several Ive read lately, but not pedantic. It has some fun asides and anecdotes mixed into the text at appropriate moments that help make the point without bludgeoning the reader. Basically, he thinks that the days of the rugged individual Christian and the assemblies of people that resemble that individual are over. It has become time for unity in diversity in the assembly.
He is not nave about the difficulties involved though. Itll be hard, messy, challenging, and maybe cause a few moments of pain. McKnight looks to Pauls example (Jesus too, since Paul was following Jesus) and sees the trials and the joys in A Fellowship of Differents. One chapter in particular addresses probably the most realistic way forward related to same sex attraction that I have read. He meets the challenge face on not quibbling and not compromising Biblical standards, but in a way that maintains the dignity of the person, remembering we are all made in the image of God. Theres much more than this particular topic, but this one is one that remains a major source of discussion.
What didnt I like? Its a phrase that kind of got under my skin that he uses--- Gods world changing social experiment. Nit picking? Probably, but God aint into experiments in my opinion. But, theres too much that is worthwhile in this book to let that spoil it.
I do recommend this book. It is not difficult to read and best of all it is significantly shorter than the author originally intended according to his afterword. End notes are included for those that want to follow up on any of his references.
This book was provided for me by the publisher in exchange for a review.
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