The list of books I have read this week covers a broad range of topics. This final book, Creature of the Word; The Jesus-Centered Church, orients it all back to where it belongs: with Christ. When I was in seminary, we were required to critique our classmates’ sermons. The litmus test we used was this question: “When did Jesus show up?” Respected voices in the preaching world may contend that not every sermon has to speak the name of Jesus, that the gospel is still being preached. Yet, I resonate with Charles Spurgeon who said, “You do not really preach the gospel if you leave Christ out—if He is omitted, it is not the gospel!” (Christ’s Triple Character, 1878).
Authors Matt Chandler, Josh Patterson and Eric Geiger, chose the subtitle “Jesus-Centered” rather than “Gospel-Centered” because they recognize that “although the gospel does impact everything, everything is not the gospel” (7). Creature of the Word is how the Reformers described the church; the church is birthed from God’s Word. Anything less or more is flawed and dangerous.
This book, written by pastors, covers almost every area of ministry. I share with you a number of quotes that I found provocative or inspiring. Enjoy:
If we lose sight of who Jesus is, “Our churches end of with a God who is safe, but weak; domesticated, but limited” (32).
“The reality is that everybody is a theologian; some of us have just unwittingly become heretics” (35).
“Worship gatherings are not always spectacular, but they are always supernatural” (42).
“While our faith is indeed very personal, it is definitely not private” (45).
“Cultural frustration [they are talking about your church’s culture] always precedes cultural transformation” (118).
“Corporate worship celebrates what God has done” (114).
“The church budget is a doctrinal statement” (192).
The church shouldn’t just survive, but thrive (218).
“Ministry will always be inefficient… We must recognize the limitation of best practices, then begin to reprioritize our approach to ministry” (230).