Total Church Seminar

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  • October 08, 2009

Last week, I attended a seminar put on by a church in Jersey with Tim Chester, author of Total Church. A bunch of the guys in the Acts 29 Network highly recommend the material and so I figured it would be worthwhile. Haven’t read the book yet but some thoughts from the day.

1.  Was glad not to have to go alone. God is raising up leaders to own the ministry of Seven Mile Road in various ways. I could not be more excited about that. At any rate, Dennis, Liz, Shainu, and I (along with Hannah and Emilie) took in the day together. So now instead of the material just swirling in my head, it was good to process it together.

2.  Tim Chester does church in the UK very differently than we do in Philadelphia. Yet, if I had to reduce everything he was getting at to its key elements, it would be gospel, community, and mission. That’s cool.

3.  Tim Chester said that the Gospel we focus on is often an individual one. It is about how a person can get right with God. How if a person repents of sin and believes in Christ, they will be redeemed and have everlasting life. He stressed that while the Gospel is not less than that, it is more than that. The Gospel, as described in the Bible, is how God creates and redeems a community for Himself. Community is a central part of our identity. He taught that the Bible tells the story of how God is making a people for Himself.

•    Creation: a community who knows God
•    Fall: an alienated community
•    Abraham: the promise of a people
•    Exodus: a people set free to know God
•    Israel: a people in captivity
•    Prophecy: the promise of a new people and a remnant people
•    Jesus: God with us and God’s faithful people
•    The Church: the new people of God
•    The Climax of the Story: a new humanity

Seeing community as not just a benefit of the Gospel, but an essential part of the Gospel was good food to chew on.

4. Mission needs to mark our community. Chester made an excellent, wonderfully practical point. That instead of seeing community and mission as another thing to add to our schedule, we ought to see how we can infuse community and mission into our normal lives. So, what are the things you normally do in a day, week, month?

Groceries, eat, exercise, watch TV, shop, read, sports, church, etc.

So the point is not to add another thing to your calendar, but rather to see how you can involve people in the things you already do. So maybe you invite some folks from your church community and a co-worker over for a meal since you’ll be eating anyway. Or you take your neighbor with you to shop for groceries since you’ll be shopping anyway. Or you go to new friend’s house to watch the game since you’ll be watching it anyway. You’re not inventing more things to do, but being intentional about how you do it. These things will not happen without effort. Chester called it gospel intentionality – meaning that we need to intentionally commit to living our lives in community and as missionaries at all times.

So, I’ll leave you to chew on this:

A. List all the activities that you do (even the mundane ones) in a day, week, month.

B. How could you add community, mission, and gospel to that?

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About Ajay Thomas

Ajay lives in Philadelphia with his wife Shainu and their kids Hannah and Micah. He is responsible for preaching and vision as a pastor at Seven Mile Road. He loves God, family, food, and football - in that order.

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