POC Blog

The random technotheolosophical blogging of Reid S. Monaghan

Book Review - The Church of irresistible Influence by Robert Lewis

Robert Lewis, Teaching Pastor at Fellowship Bible Church Little Rock has written a book to chronicle a churches efforts to build bridges of influence into the community it calls home. Part I - Spanning the Great Divide The first part of the book focuses on the question "What will it take to reconnect church and the culture" - In our day churches have tried many methods of attempting to connect church with people with successes being sporadic. How does the church reach and serve the world from which God has called it out? Some churches are "Seeker" driven, but risk becoming the culture rather than reaching people and influencing culture for the kingdom. Others, promise heaven on earth - health, wealth and abundance - morphing the Christian life into something it is not...dressing up as Lewis puts it "The American Dream in psedopigraphal garb". Others just "preach the Word" without much regarding for the contemporary setting and society the church lives...another problem noted is that so many of our "Christian lives" show so little difference than the lives of those around us. Is there another path to "bridge" the divide between the church and the world - which is faithful to the gospel, the Word of God, yet still effectively engages and influences the world we live in? Lewis describes the experience in his own church of the people growing unchallenged, stifled, and unenthusiastic in their walks? They were "being equipped" but for what? The second chapter addresses how people in our "Postmodern Age" want "real" rather than just "words" when they hear about faith and spirituality. Putting the questions of the usefulness of the term "postmodern" and whether a "Postmodern Age" is actually possible aside, Lewis is correct in saying that people need to see the living proof of Christ in us and not a proclamation of Christ and the abundant life void of incarnational (lived out) reality. If we are to reach and influence our world we need to "build bridges which balance public proclamation with congregational incarnation. Bridges which are suspended by the steel cables of the Great Commandment as well as the Great Commission" page 40 (note - the bridge building metaphor around which the book lives I found to be very fresh and compelling) The conclusion of part one is represented on the emphasized statement on page 41 We need churches that would be a community of people who stand firm in the truth over time against raging currents of opposition and who present living proof of a loving God to a watching world Part one closes with an excellent selection of Scripture (Matt 5:13-16, Luke 6:31-35, Acts 20:35, Rom 12:20,21, Gal 6:9,10, Eph 2:10, 2 Thess 3:13, 1 Tim 6:17-19, Titus 3:8, Titus 2:11-14, Heb 10:24, 1 Pet 3:13) which testifies that believers should be living out good works, loving our enemies, persevering in well doing, so that the world may see and glorify God. A good, albeit brief historical commentary on the love and service of the early church within the Roman Empire is proof that lives of "living proof" truly effect, influence, and transform the world. Proclamation of the gospel (the power of God unto salvation) and good works in the name of Christ make huge impact in the world. Part II - Designing the Structure Part two lays out the thesis of the book - that Jesus Christ's "big idea" was to make his church a force of irresistible influence in the world. Jesus promises that the gates of hell shall not prevail over his church and that his people would be salt and light in a harsh and dark world. The result will be praise to God. This idea - a church of irresistible influence is contrasted between churches who are trying to only "meet needs" or "achieve bigger is better success stories" - Such successful big churches many times become islands without bridges, stuffed full, yet not influencing their world, they have little to say to the lost world around them. The church must build bridges of irresitable influence, people of faith must connect and give their lives away in good deeds and service in the communities the church calls home. Much of the rest of the book is a great look at how one church - Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock sought to mobilize its people to gives their lives away to become an influence for Jesus Christ in the community. There are great looks at church structure, stories of changed lives (and yes many many who find faith in Christ), as well as the struggle to align the church outward into the community rather than inward, self-focused and self-consumed. The latter parts of the book put great flesh on the ideas communicated Part I and II. Much more can be said about the book but I agreed with its message almost to a point - although I can always find something to disagree with - smile. The church must preach the gospel and give itself in good works in the name of Jesus - in doing so God will use us to be involved in what Christian preacher and Apologist Ravi Zacharias called "a proclamation that is not only heard but also seen. We cannot just speak the Gospel. We will have to embody the Gospel. Gipsy Smith once said: 'There are five Gospels Matthew Mark, Luke, John and the Christian. And some people will never read the first four." Out...