I would have finished The Externally Focused Church earlier, but I got distracted when a certain friend who shot the cover for Shane Claiborne’s first book, The Irresistible Revolution, sent an advanced copy of Shane’s new one, Jesus for President. I never get advanced copies! You’ll be hearing more about this book soon.
This Sunday morning I woke up and decided to finish The Externally Focused Church before breakfast. It was time to read that last chapter.
Is your life goal to follow Jesus? Then please read this book. Think outside the pew. Let God use these ideas to spark your spiritual imagination. How might you partner with God to show his love in your community? If Bible studies or a food bank form the bulk of your ideas, get ready for a brave new world.
Are you already motivated to serve God out in the world Jesus died to save, but need some guidance? The Externally Focused Church has practical advice on getting started, volunteer management, building agency partnerships, creating bridges for the good news of the gospel, and so much more.
While it is similar to Sue Mallory’s, The Equipping Church, it adds big-picture models/concepts and story after story, example after example of real people and real churches with real struggles and real successes. The two books compliment each other well.
Your homework: Read this book with a friend. Discuss it and pray about it together. In the process, I believe the Holy Spirit will spark creative ideas and providentially open new doors to service and community. What new thing will God do through you? What small thing does God imagine I could do with great love today? How might God leverage this act into something that could care for more and more people?
The Equipping Church* (Mallory)
The Church of Irresistible Influence (Lewis & Wilkins)
Churches that Make a Difference (Sider, Olson & Unruh)
An Unstoppable Force (McManus)
Understanding Your Community (Sahlin; SDA)
Ministries of Compassion (Sahlin, Gavin, Washington, Wi; SDA)
Community Action Leadership (Sahlin; SDA)
A People of Service (Kwon, Adventist Review, 17 Jan 2008)
Into Our Neighborhoods (Sanchez, Adventist Review, 21 Feb 2008)
*This is the only book on the list I’ve read cover-to-cover. I read it while working in lay ministry and volunteer mngt at my old church.