May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.~John 17:23
The theme of this book is unity and its essentiality to the future of the Church.
John Armstrong presents a breakdown of biblical unity in the past, the present, and he engages the reader to consider the possibility of how unity could come about in the future. It is a thought provoking read, in fact, it took me weeks to go through this book, not because it was difficult reading, but because I really wanted to steep myself in some of the concepts he presented.
"It is important to recognize that the church is not the sum of the total number of local congregations added together to form one worldwide church made up of thousands of smaller parts. In reality, every single church is a true church in its own place, and at the same time every church is the church catholic. Catholicity is a quality, not an organization. It is a spiritual quality that belongs to every church. The total body of believers can only be found in the universal church, yet a single congregation has every right to call itself a church because it shares in the life and mission of Jesus." p.111
A proponent of missional thinking, Armstrong explores a new paradigm in the ecumenical movement towards true unity. Pointing out the work of the Holy Spirit through Cardinal Suenens, he quotes, "...In response to a question about reconciliation between the churches,"I (Cardinal Suenens) believe that the solution of ecumenical disunity will not finally be the result of a dialogue between the Church of Rome and the Church of Canterbury or the Church of Moscow. It will not be a dialogue between the churches as such, but a dialogue between Rome and Jesus, Canterbury and Jesus, Moscow and Jesus, so that we can become more and more united in him." Happy is the one who sees the centrality of Jesus, explores the depth of what this truly means, and does this in deep relational fellowship with other Christ-centered Christians."p.173
Armstrong challenges the reader to ask the right questions and to "Arm yourself with insight and prayer."
Each chapter has questions for discussion and reflection which I found helpful in exploring some of the more challenging issues he presented. There is also a glossary and a website listed with recommended resources.
As we grow closer to the Day of the Lord, and as the gap between countries, churches, and individuals becomes smaller and smaller, we need to unify simply for survival, and more importantly so that the world is able to see Jesus Christ through us more clearly as the body of Christ.
MISSIONAL ECUMENICAL CHURCH...
Your Church is Too Small is definitely a book worth reading...pick it up today!
Your Church is Too Small by John H. Armstrong has been provided courtesy of Graf-Martin Communications, Inc and the author. Available now at your favourite bookseller.