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The Gospel-Driven ChurchRecipe for a better church

This is the best book for years on what 'church' really means and how the fad-weary charismatic constituency can regroup for the next advance. It is The Gospel-Driven Church by Ian Stackhouse (Paternoster, 2004, ISBN 1-84227-290-X).

Written by a charismatic pastor, it looks with a critical yet kindly eye at worship, preaching, the sacraments, prayer and leadership and how radical adjustments are needed in them all. You won't agree with everything, but you will find this book deeply challenging in the best sense of the word.

'Powerful rhythms are not new in church worship,' notes Brian Wren, 'yet when intense rhythms are amplified, relentlessly pursued, or both, they become compulsive.' Such an intentional use of rhythm, he asserts, for the purpose of compelling a desired response, must be renounced, if worship is to retain its integrity.  (p47)

In a culture where Sunday has been completely secularised, and where even Christians pay scant devotion to the weekly pattern of Lord's Day worship, going to church on a Sunday could actually be a radical statement of one's commitment to the gospel.  (p62)

…a belief that as we faithfully expound the scriptures, the combination of good theology and the presence of the Holy Spirit will cause churches to grow.  (p88)

The church has too often mimicked rather than acted as an alternative to the culture, thereby creating the possibility of being a church that is relevant, but without theological and spiritual weight.  (p134)

The success of a movement is not to be assessed in the light of its numerical size; to do so is to submit to the domination of the very idols that Christian faith is seeking to subvert.  (p164)

We insist that being baptised in the Spirit, as a distinct phase in the process of conversion-initiation, is vital for ensuring that whatever other growth experiences one might have, they are predicated upon the initial experience of grace and empowering in Spirit baptism.  (p168)

Praying the psalms routinely—which is the way commended to us by those traditions most familiar with psalmody—challenges a fundamental weakness of charismatic theology, namely, its inability to embrace suffering and pain.  (p206)

This absence of a theology of ministry is precisely why the evangelical-charismatic church has been prey to the various techniques and strategies emanating from the world of management. Without a common philosophy of ministry, church leadership is tantamount to nothing more than the running of a successful and efficient organisation.  (p225)

The church is not simply a counter-culture, nor, most definitely, anti-culture, but a new society acting as the eschatological vanguard of the kingdom of God, wherein God will be all in all.  (p269)

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