Thursday, October 21, 2010

Vintage Church – Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears

©2008 Crossway Books, Wheaton, IL

Mark Driscoll, founding pastor/teaching elder of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA, and Gerry Breshears, theology professor and division chair for the school of biblical and theological studies at Western University, follow-up their book Vintage Jesus, with a book that discusses what church is.

As in the previous work, chapters deal with issues directly affecting church as we know it and are followed with FAQ sections in reference to the previous chapter’s topic. The design and flow of the book are pretty good. As usual, Driscoll relies well on his skill as a communicator to present his views. In the book you’ll find a well-developed definition of what church is, a discussion of church history, and a philosophy on where church is going. Topics addressed include church leadership, worship, and discipline among others.

While the authors are quick to point out that local expressions of the church can be healthy regardless of size, the focus of the “where the church is headed” sections of the book tend to be an apologetic for the multi-site, video-enhanced, mega church pattern. One would not find fault in this seeing as how that is the pattern which is practiced at Mars Hill.

Distracting from the authors’ intent are the chapters entitled “How Is Love Expressed in a Church?” (which is cumbersome and off-topic), and “What is a Multi-Campus Church?” and “How Can a Church Utilize Technology?” (both of which take on a tone that seems to border on justification rather than teaching). On the other hand, the chapters entitled “What Is Church Discipline?” and “What Is a Missional Church?” are particularly helpful and insightful.

The plethora of biblical references (mostly footnoted to avoid distraction) have a tendency to be distracting to the reader, and border on proof-texting in the attempt to show biblical foundation for the ideas presented. Otherwise the scholarly work in preparing the text is evident.

The pertinent questions: Who is this book’s audience? The design is for preachers and church leaders, and most likely not the laity—although there are parts that would be helpful to church members who want to educate themselves. Should you read this book? Not if you are a died-in-the-wool traditionalist who sees all change and innovation as Satanic (you’ll just get mad). But if you are looking for ways to make your church more effective in her neck of the woods, you might just be inspired by this book. I found much to think about. That’s why I’m awarding it four out of five reading glasses.

—Benjamin Potter, October 21, 2010

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