Although this book is built for those seeking a vision for their church (especially those in leadership)—and is quite helpful in that—the heart of this book is decidedly simple: Commit to actually living out the gospel, and just watch where God takes your congregation from there.
Michael A. Milton. Finding a Vision for Your Church: Assembly Required. 256p., $14.99, P&R Publishing.
As Michael Milton puts it elsewhere: “[T]his book is not just for ministers and lay leaders. This book is about the church is for all of us who are believers in Christ, who are members of that holy bride that Christ is perfecting. Now, more than ever, we need to think biblically about the church.”
And think biblically we do. And yet this is about vision, and as Milton points out, vision starts with a burden. What has God placed this group of believers together for, at this time? This book will help you and your church to process that together.
Although the book isn’t broken out into sections, there’s clearly a flow to it, as it moves very specifically (in both chapter titles and content) from values to “seeing” (souls saved and Christ triumphant, respectively); to the more outward stages of gathering, growing, and sending; then finally to more nuts-and-bolts issues such as preaching, worship, fellowship, outreach, and prayer. The implementation phase is explored further in the book’s two appendices.
That said, the part that resonates with me most here is the belief that a biblical approach to church is possible. (I know, I set the bar high, but that’s kind of what we’ve come to at this point.) Perhaps the most intriguing and illuminating piece comes near the middle as Milton equates today’s American church with the Jesus approaching the woman at the well in John 4. I’ll let you discover for yourself how the analogy unfolds, but suffice to say that in contrast to many of the postmodern/appeasing approaches today, he reminds us, “You need to see that harvest time is right now, that the post-Christian mind-set of our neighbors does not intimidate almighty God.” Likewise, it serves as a slap in the face to us: Never — write off — anyone. Because God hasn’t: “If you become spiritually desensitized to the plight of the lost in your community, if you possess just a little unbelief about what God can do, then confess it, get rid of it, and wake up to the glory of the gospel.”
Finding a Vision for Your Church, hopefully, can help to serve as part of that wake-up call for churches, as well as the individuals who populate them.