Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Journeys – Todd Wright and Marty Duren

© 2008 Missional Press, Smyrna, DE

Few books dig so deeply into the heart of the reader as to force life change. In the church culture we have, over the last decade or so, been bombarded with a mountain of books that have a tendency to approach this kind of effect. Several have made it across my desk, and have even influenced my thinking.
The Purpose Driven Church, Transitioning, Simple Church, and Chazown have all had similar interest-piquing effects as they outlined either a new approach to church or personal discipleship, and have all created a desire to see a more effective ministry happen in my life and the church I serve (or served at the time). What these books did not do was drive me to my knees in search of the face of God. In this, Journeys: Transitioning Churches to Relevance is different.

Within the pages of this short volume, you will find the candid report from two pastors broken by a vision from God that allowed no rest, no relying on the status quo, and no looking back with integrity. With the admonition that both men and the churches where they lead are on a continuing journey into reaching their respective communities for Christ, they share the journey so far. It is a journey that brings under indictment the Church Culture that has developed in America (and the West) that efficiently builds a wall around itself to keep the outside world outside while claiming to love and pray for that lost and dying world.

Reader be warned: this is not a casual perusal, and if read in all seriousness will send you to the Bible to discover again the face of God that first called you out of the darkness. It is not a how-to book to change or jumpstart your church. On the contrary it is the open heart of two young pastors as they tell their progress through that change. It will challenge you to seek a renewed vision, or it will anger you because of the conviction that hits like that after a powerful sermon. Your choice at the end of the reading will be to burn the book or be consumed by the fire lit within you by the Holy Spirit.

Each chapter is divided into Todd’s and then Marty’s step in the journey, with the final two chapters (one by Todd and one by Marty) issuing what we in Baptist circles would call an “invitation” (play the extended version of “Just as I Am” while reading them). The authors admonish us as readers not to take lightly the journey if we so choose to take it. It is not an easy road, nor one of little cost—to man and church alike. It is a journey well worth the consideration. Many a pastor will hear his own voice in the words of Wright and Duren, weeping, laughing, and shouting for joy over the roller coaster ride that is church change.

I would recommend this book to any minister ready to be effective in Kingdom work in a culture that has relegated that work to an ever-shrinking corner (often accepted gladly by the church culture, if not built by her). It would be an excellent “read together” for church staff members who are ready to become effective in doing more than attracting people who are already part of the church culture. It is a must for any church member who wants to see real ministry develop from their church that meets the scope laid out by Christ in Acts 1:8. Understand when you read this book that you will not want to put it down, nor will you be able to leave its message behind once you’ve turned the last page.

Journeys is worth not only five full sets of reading glasses, but five thumbs as well. Blessings on you Todd and Marty, for your candor and for leading those of us in a denomination plagued with political posturing into a moment of repentance.

—Benjamin Potter, March 26, 2008

1 comment:

Marty Duren said...

Thanks, Benjamin.

In our writing, Todd and I prayed for God to use JOURNEYS in just the way that you have described. This is one fire I'd like to see spread.

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