I have a lot of respect for people who stand up and speak passionately about this thing called church. Often the stirring rally cry of “There is more than this” is seeing as a threat to those who find comfort in the predictability of routine or those who prefer keeping their religion scheduled and apart from other aspects of their lives. Brett Fish Anderson is one of those folks willing to stick his head out and his debut work is a great read. He speaks from the heart and reasons from scripture as he exhorts the church to fulfill her potential in Christ.
There are plenty of highlights in i, church such as Brett’s ideas regarding the kinds of things that should be happening or that should be more evident within the church. He has a list of 13 of them which includes amongst other things loving God and people, community, breaking bread and drinking wine, witnessing and discipline others, prayer, bible reading, 2 way communication and social justice. Something else I really enjoyed is a portion on ‘running the race’ as opposed to the ‘walk with God’ thing we often hear about. I also thought that i, church did a great job of defining what the church is not and so hopefully there are people out there who will realize that they were not growing despondent with church as much as they were with what they may have perceived the church to be and hopefully this will lead them back into fellowship again.
The only real negatives for me were from the section subtitled Can you be a Christ follower without being part of an institutionalized Sunday gathering. If it were simply addressing lone ranger Christianity then it would have been fine but I do see the informal yet still intentional House Churches as a viable and healthy exception to this. Using Brett’s 13 ideas of what should be evident in a church; I think the institutional church is more prone to failure in those areas than House churches may be. Breaking bread (as a full meal), accountability, wrestling with the bible and 2 way ministry are impossible in large, formal gatherings and the sad reality is that even in churches which have home groups during the week, the larger portion of its members will always be involved merely as spectators on a Sunday.
Let it not detract too much from the rest of the book though. It is not a one book to solve all your problems and questions read but it is still a valuable contribution to the subject of this thing called ekklesia. Also, It is not only for those who have grown disillusioned with the church but it speaks directly to those who still think that ‘their’ church is the bee’s knees as well.
My favorite section of this book is just a collection of other people’s contributions on how they would define the church or how they feel toward it. There is a great variety of voices which gives a good indication of how the rest of the world thinks and feels about us. I absolutely love how Brett figured out a way to make this an interactive thing. Church is not just about what happens between 9 and 11 am on a Sunday. Church is expressed through the lives of the body in very real ways in a very real world everyday and everywhere. Brett gets it.