Imagine ChurchPaperback Releasing Whole-Life Disciples Neil Hudson
Our time in church needs to equip us to be salt and light in our time out there. Drawn from the hard-won lessons of the Imagine project, this book offers help and hope from churches which have begun to do just that.(more...)
Calling people into whole life discipleship: seeing Jesus everywhere, accessible and applicable is not an easy call. Disciple-making is hard, worthwhile, adventurous living and Neil Hudsons masterly title will resource and inspire your obedience in the mission of Jesus in your world. I particularly love the underlying culture changing dynamic of Neil's writing. This is the spinal core of this new work calling us to attitude, action and transformation. As a pastor-theologian-leader Neil has gifted the church with something of lasting worth in transforming what can often feel dull, safe and stuck in our church communities. Logic, theology and practical steps abound. […] Essential reading for all church leaders and useful for all Christians everywhere. This could be the best LICC title yet, and a prophetic catalyst for a nation of believers longing to get out of the limited straitjackets of our presence existence into the spacious, risky, faithful and fruitful life of Jesus-following. Free of guilt, cliches and predictable step-plans........ this is full of wisdom and already one of my best reads of 2012. It could resource a revolution! Simple, practical, compelling.
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How can an ordinary church grow disciples who live their whole lives as followers of Jesus? Disciples whose faith shapes their attitudes as neighbours, colleagues and family members?
Our time in church needs to equip us to be salt and light in our time out there. Drawn from the hard-won lessons of the Imagine project, this book offers help and hope from churches which have begun to do just that:
- Lessons from three years’ work with pilot churches
- Practical ideas for your church
- Real-life stories of churches and individuals
It doesn’t offer quick fixes. There aren’t any. Instead, it offers new hope and little changes which change everything.
'If you are looking for some quick fixes to make your church better, you won’t find them here. (They don’t exist.) The purpose of this book is to turn your church inside out.' - from the foreword by Graham Cray, Archbishops’ Missioner, Leader of the Fresh Expressions team
'The idea of whole-life discipleship could hardly be more important. This stimulating book is both thoughtful and immensely practical. I highly recommend it to anyone with a leadership role.' - Stephen Gaukroger, Clarion Trust
'Beautifully engaging, elegantly simple, gloriously practical. This isn’t a seven-step programme, but a traveller’s guide for a great journey - the transformation of church culture to whole-life disciple-making. I hope and pray many will use it.' - James Lawrence, CPAS
Extent: 192 pages
Publication Date: 17/02/2012
Published by: IVP
Beginnings and the bigger picture
1 God’s people out there: in place – ready to go?
2 The whole-life church: a renewed vision
3 Changing from the inside out: values before actions
4 How to become a whole-life disciple-making church
5 All learning together: redefining the church contract
6 How the whole-life DNA changes things: three examples
7 As you begin . . .
Moving onwards – guidelines and resources
The next steps: a reflection guide
Fuel for the journey: resources and links
A reminder of the big picture
I hold a number of strong convictions:
1. There is no way to re-evangelize this nation apart from the impact of the daily lives of ordinary, everyday Christians.
2. The ultimate test of the fruitfulness and authenticity of any church, irrespective of its style or tradition, is the quality of disciples it makes. As this book says, ‘Making whole-life missionary disciples is the core vocation of the church.’
3. Today’s church in the UK has inherited a disastrous split between evangelism and disciple-making, and often reduces discipleship to a narrowly conceived personal piety.
4. Discipleship cannot be taught from a pulpit or in a classroom alone, but is formed through community, and through godly habits, in the practice of mission and in the context of everyday life.
5. We do not yet fully understand how to form whole-life disciples of Jesus in our seductive consumer and celebrity culture.
6. Many of the important things we do understand have been learned through LICC’s Imagine Project. Participating in it is a vital way to increase our understanding.
It is thus with both conviction and enthusiasm that I commend Neil Hudson’s book. It is rooted in the most foundational of all theological statements: ‘Jesus is Lord.’ It has been developed from actual practice in partnership with pilot project churches. It recognizes the critical role of the local church, yet it is not about the church for the church’s sake, but a church for the sake of the kingdom.
My commendation has to be qualified with a health warning! If you are looking for some quick fixes to make your church better, you won’t find them here. (They don’t exist.) The purpose of this book is to turn your church inside out.
Graham Cray Archbishops’ Missioner, Leader of the Fresh Expressions team
Beginnings and the bigger picture (extract)
This book is about how an ordinary church, your church perhaps, can become a community of people who help one another live out their whole life – at home, at work, in church, in the neighbourhood – as followers of Jesus, engaged in his mission to the world.
‘What other kind of church would you really want to be involved in creating?’ you might well ask.
Still, whole-life disciple-making churches are in fact rather rare.
You can search out fine preaching churches, and fine churches involved in social action, and churches that really know how to pray, and churches where the worship in music and song is sublime, but it is rare, very rare, to find a church where the main thing is exactly what Jesus identified as the main thing. ‘Go and make disciples,’ was Jesus’ final instruction to the disciples he had made.
He did not say, ‘Go and make converts.’ He did not say, ‘Go and make people who know quite a lot.’ He said, ‘Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you’ (Matthew 28:19–20). And Jesus had taught his disciples quite a lot about pretty much every area of life. He’d taught them that their mission was everywhere – not just in synagogues and in the temple courts – but everywhere.
A new mission strategy
But that’s not the mission strategy we have in the UK church or indeed in the global church. As Mark Greene pointed out at the Third Lausanne Congress for World Evangelisation, on the whole the overall mission strategy of the church worldwide is:
To recruit the people of God to use some of their leisure-time to join the mission initiatives of church-paid workers.
Of course, this approach to mission has borne fruit in wonderful ways for all kinds of people: mums and toddlers, teens, the elderly, drug addicts, the homeless, and indeed the people down our street. Praise God for it all. And praise God for the leaders who have envisioned and mobilized their communities to such good effect. But it is still merely a leisure-time approach that only engages the vast majority of Christians in mission in a proportion of their leisure time, and that is in fact a small proportion of their overall time.
What might happen if all of God’s people recognized that the whole of their lives mattered to God, not just because he cares for them (though, of course, he does) but because these ordinary lives can be directly involved in God’s mission? What would happen if they realized that their lives are of real significance specifically because of God’s desire for the whole world to be reconciled to himself? What would happen if the 98% of Christians who are not in church-paid work were engaged in mission not for three to ten hours a week, maybe 5% of their waking time, but for 100% of their waking time? At the very least, it would change their early morning prayer, wouldn’t it?
This book, then, is not just about a minor change of perspective; it’s a call to the church to take seriously Christ’s call to nurture disciples who are learning to live out the profound implications of following him in every area of their life.
Who do we think you are?
This has been written to encourage church leaders to be courageous in concentrating on the main reasons they are in ministry – to make whole-life disciples. And it’s written by a church leader who is still plugging away at this after twenty-five years. So I know that this is not always easy. …
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