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Rector’s Reading Group – ‘The Living Church’ #2

Thoughts on Stott’s The Living Church, Chapter 1.

1. Stott pulls no punches when it comes to the importance of church! Unchurched Christians are “a grotesque anomaly. The NT knows nothing of such a person” (p19). 

2. Why church is important is a bit surprising. I was expecting something along the lines of ‘church helps you grow’. But Stott emphasises the centrality of church to God’s puposes. He makes a good point regarding Christ dying not just to save individuals from their sin but to establish a people (p.20).

3. A good reminder to be on about mission. As Jesus came into our world (or ‘was sent’, to use the language from John’s Gospel), so we are sent into the worlds of the people around us.

4. Then using Acts 2 as a scaffold, Stott posits some essentials for healthy churches: First, they learn from the Apostles (through their teachings in Scripture).

5. Stott’s cessationism is hinted at on p.24. Cessationism is the view that the more sensational gifts (tongues, prophecy, healing) have ‘ceased’ in our current age. His view is based on the idea that mircales were used to establish successive ages of revelation, in the last instance the revelation brought by the Apostles. I’m not convinced, as the Paul seems to expect others apart form the Apostles to possess these gifts, and to do so alongside the already recognised teaching of the Apostles.

6. Second, churches care for their members. In this section he speaks about Christians and money. He’s balanced, not saying that all Christians are called to poverty. But typically of Stott there is the challenge for us to do with much less. A fresh idea for me was to go without simply to be in solidarity with the poor. 

7. Third, the church worships (by which he means praise and adoradtion in the Christian gathering). He complains about lugubrious church services, wanting a little more joyful expression!

8. Fourth, the church evangelises. He notes in Acts 2 it was the Lord who added to their number each day. He also notes that evangelism and the church go together. as people are saved they are added to their number! He challneges us to be eager to see people converted.

9. A geat conclusion, healthy church is all about healthy and intentional relationships: related to the Apostles, relating to each other, related to God, related to the outside world. A good story about the disillusioned Latin American students too!

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