I have spent the last week reading through Dangerous Church by John Bishop, pastor of Living Hope Church. This book is part of the Leadership Network Innovation Series. Since I have enjoyed reading other titles in the series, anticipation was high that this book would really challenge me as a leader in Christ's church.
Next, this is solid stuff that the church in America needs to return to often. Face it. We experience drift. Even if we start out with the right plan and motives, humans are prone to disregard their dependence upon the Lord. He expects us to be in intimate fellowship with Him as we seek faithfulness in our actions; for us, everything should flow from a right relationship with our Lord. But that's not what our lives, and frankly our ministries look like. And Bishop's book is a strong call for the church to return to her biblical roots and mandate. The church exists to rescue the lost. It is the responsibility of leadership and the work of every believer. Any program or event that does not advance these points is irrelevant at best and an abomination at worst.
Now, I'm just guessing, but I'd say that Bishop has roots in the Baptist tradition. I venture that guess because of his tendency to over-state the singularity of purpose of the church, namely toward evangelism. It's an appropriate topic for discussion since the church in America is culturally marginalized and evangelistically impotent. However, saying that the church exists to make converts is part of the current problems with the church. We tend to over-simplify things and artificially compartmentalize the functions, even the purpose of the church. As I stated earlier, the church is a disciple-making factory. It is not an evangelistic crusade that is focused on raised hands and wet heads.
One final criticism before closing (read later this week for the most significant thing I took from the book). Bishop is a devout advocate of the Attractional Model of church and his anecdotal stories provide the practical justification for his views. His church launches satellite campuses in six-packs, even internationally. There isn't a Missional bone in his body, despite his insistence. When he writes about congregants reaching the lost, he means inviting people to church. Ironically, he does discuss their inability to plant a campus right across the river from their hub due to cultural differences. But the discussion comes in the context of a "Don't give up when faced with failure" encouragement. If he would take his own advice and take "everything" to the Lord as negotiable in order to expand the Kingdom, maybe he would realize the problems inherent in the satellite movement. It's not that satellites are wrong, but they certainly must acknowledge and reflect the indigenous culture.
Overall, a worthwhile read, but rather old-school in its methodology.
The author, John Bishop, is the founder and senior pastor of Living Hope Church in Vancouver, Washington. He shares his story while asking potent questions that every ministry needs to answer.
Ã¢â¬Â¢ Why are you doing church?
Ã¢â¬Â¢ If your church ceased to exist, would anyone notice?
Ã¢â¬Â¢ Will you lose to win?
Ã¢â¬Â¢ Who is building the church?
These and other spin-off questions are presented in the midst of telling us his personal story and philosophy of ministry. I believe John will help you sort out the correct answers as you address these questions and apply them to your particular ministry situation. The book is well worth your time and effort to take the exercise of thinking through your answers to the root questions. Then the challenge comes to implement the changes necessary to align your life and ministry with God, His Word and increase the effectiveness of your ministry for His Glory. Take the test, read the book, apply your answers, make a difference for eternity.
Dangerous Church: Risking Everything to Reach Everyone is a book not only for the church leadership, but for the Christ follower as well. Pastor John has a powerful, engaging writing style that is direct and to the point. I absolutely loved the "Smell of Church" and "Communicating to Go Somewhere" chapters!
Using the fresh-coffee aroma of Starbucks as an analogy for the aroma of Christ's mercy in the church is excellent, and I thought the "Flight Plan" comparison for developing a sermon was a very unique and new perspective.
When you read this book, I think you will agree that Pastor John is a two-handed plowing machine for the Gospel, and he is just flat out getting it done for Jesus! If you want to be awakened and challenged to take more risks and be "dangerous for Jesus", then read Dangerous Church. I believe it will change you, like it has me.
John Bishop never wrote a 5-year plan. The only thing he seems to know for sure is that he has no idea where God will take his church in the future. From a humble start in his living room to a congregation of 5000 and satellite campuses in many locations around the world, no one could have planned the growth of Living Hope Church. To have done so would have brought ridicule from the rest of the Christian World. But John had never ran a church before. He didn't know it couldn't be done. He just knew that God was bigger than he could imagine, bigger than any plans that he could make. Living Hope is a seeker-friendly Church. Leading people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ is the number-one goal of John Bishop's ministry. The book, "Dangerous Church" is how John has come to describe Living Hope. Nothing about the church is traditional and conventional except for the message of repentance and salvation. The average traditional Christian might at first feel uncomfortable sitting among the congregation. Every manifestation of modern culture and fashion are present. Tattoos and body piercing are common, as well as all manner of hair styles and colors. But when worship starts, arms are lifted and tears begin to flow. Verbal expressions of praise are heard from all parts of the congregation. You quickly realize you are at home with God's people! The story of Living Hope Church is the subject of this cutting-edge book, Dangerous Church. In an age when many are modifying the Gospel message in an attempt to reach a wider audience, John Bishop shows that the power of the Church is in the timeless, changeless message of salvation.
As church member and someone who is not involved in ministry, I was looking forward to learning more about the history of Living Hope & the philosophy of the senior pastor, John Bishop.
I was totally engaged (read book in one sitting) and drawn into the message on a personal level. The message is powerful, and clear on what GOD expects and calls us to do, whether minisitry or member.
The real life examples and inspiring scriptural citations provide probing questions, clear answers , guidance - a roadmap on where we need to be, what we need to put into action to fulfill God's purpose- reaching the lost, inviting and bringing others to Jesus. Whether you are involved as ministry or member.. It's personal!! This book is a wake up call for all.