What should a church do?
Look at your church's calendar and you will learn something of its mission. But how do you know it's the mission Jesus gave?
In The Life of the Church, Joe Thorn explains the mission of the church and the three rhythms for fulfilling it. The result is a simple, memorable model for church life and ministry, grounded in Scripture and aligned with historic practices.Useful for training in membership class, discipleship groups, and elder boards—and even for devotional reading—The Life of the Church is at once theological, practical, and experiential. Readers will not simply be informed, but led to a deeper conviction about their role in the body of Christ. Pastors will be equipped to refocus their ministries, and Christians to fulfill their purpose: be and make disciples.
If you wonder what it means to be saved into a body of believers, why the various parts of a worship service matter, and how to engage in the world as a citizen of heaven, then The Life of the Church is for you. It answers this critical question: “Why does the church exist, and how does it shape my life?”
Joe Thorn in, "The Life of the Church", seeks to discuss the necessity of the participation of God's people at the table, the prominence of the pulpit, and the active voice of Christians in the public square.
The section covering the table is broken down into the need for this type of community, the hospitality of Christians, and smaller groups. This is not what I thought it would be when I read "table" on the front cover, but Thorn addresses an important and often neglected role of the Church and Christians today, and that is the place of the fellowship table in the role of discipleship.
Undergirding the section on the pulpit is the Word within worship, liturgy, worshipping in Spirit and truth, and corporate worship. If there is an aspect of the Christian life that is needed by everyone it is corporate worship. There we gather with other believers; there we gather to hear the Word of God proclaimed. While one can hear the Word proclaimed through a computer screen, there is something sacramental to corporate worship as told in Scripture.
Finally, in the square, Thorn writes on the Church in the world, participation, restoration, conversation, and multiplication. Once the Church has gathered to worship and receive the commissioning from the Word of God through the Spirit of God, the Church is prepared to enter the world and engage with the sword of Truth.
This is a wonderful little volume in a three-volume series written by Joe Thorn in conjunction with Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, whose slogan aptly reads "For the Church." I believe that was the intention behind the writing of these volumes. I hope you will read these volumes. I think they will be greatly beneficial to your own, and your church's, growth.
Joe Thorn has done the church a great service in writing this three book series on the nature of the church. The first two are focused on the motivations and characteristics of the church, and this third book, The Life of the Church, is focused on what the church actually accomplishes. Thorn does this by showing the three aspects of church life. This is perhaps Thorn’s most helpful thought in these books. He calls these three areas the Table, the Pulpit and the Square. While many books are written on the subject of community, preaching, and evangelism, Thorn provides some much needed attention to corporate worship. Chapter 6 is one of the most helpful chapters I have read in any book this year.
At first, I wanted to read this book to simply finish the series, but I was happily surprised to find myself being encouraged throughout this book. While I enjoyed reading the first two in this series, The Life of the Church is one I will go back and read several times for encouragement. I would advise any pastor or layman to do the same.