Retrieving Classical Ministry for Contemporary Revivalism (Deep Church Series)
Category: Church Leadership & Resources
You don't need me to tell you that The Gospel-Driven Church is at once a stimulating and a significant book — commendations from David Pawson, Eugene Peterson, Derek Tidball, Tom Smail, Max Turner and Nigel Wright (to name but a few) should be enough to convince you that this book is worthy of your interest and engagement. Let me therefore say just two things about Stackhouse's work.
The first is this: The Gospel-Driven Church is a provocative, indeed polemical, work. You will be frustrated by it, challenged by it, incited by it. The reader is left in no doubt that the author writes from the heart as well as the head, out of gritty experience as well as theological sophistication. Part One takes a sober look at the revivalism (the aspiration for 'the once for all invasion of the Holy Spirit resulting in unprecedented evangelistic success', p.273) which has accompanied the charismatic renewal movement's impact upon evangelical Christianity. In particular, Stackhouse derides the faddism and focus upon numerical growth which this concern with revival has generated within local churches, arguing that it is both pastorally destructive and theologically inadequate.
The second is this: The Gospel-Driven Church is an encouraging work. It persuasively impresses upon the reader the need to regain a fresh confidence in the Gospel, to look afresh on Christ and see first and foremost a completed work to be appropriated, not the promise of something yet to come. As Stackhouse addresses (in Part Two) prayer, charismatic worship, pastoral ministry, preaching, baptism, communion, and leadership he draws us back, again and again, to Christ and the Missio Dei — not to a "let go and let God" discipleship, but to a discipleship which is truly Gospel-Driven. Speaking to those in pastoral ministry, Stackhouse comments thus: 'Ministry is not to be understood as exhortation towards something that previously did not exist, but revelation and reminder of what is a true and present reality through Christ and the Spirit.' (p.231)
Many who read The Gospel-Driven Church will want to challenge aspects of Stackhouse's analysis and critique of contemporary evangelicalism. Many who read The Gospel-Driven Church will want to challenge his views on, in particular, preaching and the sacraments. Few who read The Gospel-Driven Church will be disappointed with the provocation and encouragement which, in equal measure, they will receive.Order The Gospel-Driven Church from Eden.co.uk
Andy Partington, March 2005
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