The Compelling Community
On the off chance that the quantity of features in a book can fill in as a sign of its value, at that point The Compelling Community has officially demonstrated a particularly profitable one to me. It is covered with notes and features (or the Kindle identical, at any rate) and a large number of its thoughts and applications are as yet permeating some place in the back of my brain. There is a ton it shown me, and a great deal inside its pages that I mean to consider and apply.
It was many years prior that I initially perused Mark Dever’s 9 Marks of a Healthy Church. That book is a call for places of worship to seek after scriptural examples of wellbeing. It profoundly affected me and on different pioneers at Grace Fellowship Church. We have educated and connected its standards in a wide range of settings and still endeavor to be the sort of chapel it depicts. The Compelling Community is composed by Jamie Dunlop, partner minister at Capitol Hill Baptist Church, and his book is firmly identified with Dever’s. He says, “This book is about the kind of network that I’ve seen structure in the gathering I’ve come to cherish. In that sense, this is Mark’s book. The basic standards, encounters, and methodologies … are largely his. He’s been directing the ensemble, in a manner of speaking; I’ve been in the chronicle corner.” The Compelling Community is the consequence of their association in the gospel and a portrayal of the sort of Christian people group that can, and should, structure inside a solid assembly.
This book is certifiably not a handy solution or a congregation wide program of progress. It is anything but a how-to control and not a true to life record of an individual or church. Rather, it is “a lot of scriptural rules that can manage steady change in your assembly more than quite a while. … It’s a book that endeavors to concentrate on God’s motivations for chapel network rather than our own. … [It’s a] current retelling of facts that have been talked about all through chapel history, and particularly in the hundreds of years following the Protestant Reformation.” It isn’t hypothetical however pragmatic, coaxed directly out of the creators’ encounters with their very own gathering.
As Dunlop starts, he demonstrates that God’s arrangement for every neighborhood church is that it would frame a sort of powerful network. At that point he holds out two distinct dreams of network. He alludes to the first as the “gospel-in addition to” network where the majority of the congregation’s connections are established on the gospel in addition to something different—comparable socioeconomics or shared interests. Since this network joins around an option that is other than the gospel, it is a network that could without much of a stretch exist separated from the gospel. The gospel might be available, yet it isn’t vital. He alludes to the second church network as the “gospel-uncovering” network. This people group uncovers the intensity of the gospel by the solidarity that comes regardless of a wide range of decent variety. It is loaded with connections that could never exist aside from reality and intensity of the gospel.
It won’t shock you to discover that Dunlop advocates the second sort of network, and requires our houses of worship to move far from fondness based connections to gospel-based ones. “My anxiety for the outreaching church,” he says, “isn’t so much that we’re out to deny the gospel in encouraging network. Rather, my worry is that, notwithstanding well meaning plans, we’re building networks that can flourish paying little heed to the gospel.” The sort of network God wants is one that has both broadness and profundity—it traverses the most unique people groups and socioeconomics, and it brings these individuals into profound, steadfast, and adoring connections. God uncovers his gospel in the most clear manner through this sort of chapel.
With the majority of that preparation set up, Dunlop uses the greater part of his exertion in depicting how a congregation can encourage this sort of network: Through lecturing, corporate petition, and significant partnership. He depicts how to ensure this network by proactively tending to uneasiness and reacting scripturally to sin. What’s more, he portrays how this network works together in evangelism and in kingdom development, most remarkably by planting new places of worship or reviving old ones.
In The Compelling Community Dunlop channels the best of Dever, and gives a convincing case to a congregation that is set apart by both life and wellbeing. This is a congregation that exists just, and clearly, in light of the gospel, and a congregation that exists basically to uncover the gospel. He characterizes it and depicts it as a wonderful thing.
In the event that you have perused 9 Marks of a Healthy Church and thought about how to really actualize it, or on the off chance that you have perused the book and pondered what that sort of chapel truly resembles, The Compelling Community is actually what you have been searching for. In spite of the fact that it is composed explicitly and essentially for chapel individuals, it will demonstrate profitable for any Christian. I profited by it and happily prescribe it to you.
The Compelling Community: What to Do Next?
1. Do a “Nominal Christianity Audit” of your church.
The Compelling Community talks about the “Gospel-Revealing” community in a church—where the relationships in your church testify to the power of the gospel because they would not and could not exist apart from the gospel. It contrasts this with “Gospel-Plus” community—where most every relationship in a church can be explained by some commonality in addition to the gospel. Problem is, many of us have built our churches through Gospel-Plus community. We’ve used many things other than the gospel to entice people into our churches: great programs, great music, great friendships with people just like you, etc. Over time, this approach will attract both genuine Christians and nominal Christians, that is, those who mistake their heartfelt affinity for certain morals or activities or social groups with personal, sincere, and repentant faith in the Lord Jesus. Ask yourself: In what ways does your church allow Christians-in-name-only to blithely exist in self-deceived comfort?
2. Adjust your membership practices.
The vision of The Compelling Community is a church community that is evidently supernatural. We want churches that are giant, irrefutable arrows pointing to the power and mercy of Almighty God. But unless your members are committed to each other in ways that confound the world, your church community will end up looking like any other civic-minded organization. Since membership is a formalization of this biblical commitment, membership in your church should clarify three things: It should clarify that membership is only for those who give evidence of faith in Christ. It should clarify the significant ommitment that every Christian is to make to other Christians in a local church—even before they know those people well. It should clarify the distinction between those who are members of the church and those who aren’t (the line Paul describes between those inside/outside the church in 1 Corinthians 5). In other words, can the day-to-day life of a non-member in your church look pretty much the same as that of a member? If so, then membership doesn’t say much about the power of the gospel.
3. Preach on the beauty and power of the local church.
One natural application of nearly any text in Scripture is the glory of the local church. What Old Testament Israel pointed to, what Jesus perfectly fulfilled, what the New Testament church inaugurated, is the new covenant people of God. Why does God love the church so much? Because it is his glory made visible. It is as close as we have in this present age to seeing the gospel with our eyes. That’s why Christians are called into churches: so that together we can image the beauty and power and grace of God through the gospel. That vision of glory is what will draw non-Christians to faith, and slumbering Christians to wake up, and struggling Christians to persevere. Is that what motivates your congregation? Or are many of your pews filled with consumers—mainly interested in church because of the package of goods and services you offer? Show off that glorious picture of the church in Scripture. After all, Jesus gave his life for the church, and he compels us to do the same. A quick note in conclusion: let’s say that through an attraction-based ministry you’ve managed to fill your pews with Christians-in-name-only who for years have been reassured in their spiritual consumerism. To some extent this probably describes every church. But if this has happened to a large extent, you may find that if you really want to build toward a Compelling Community you’ll need to be prepared for some of these dear souls to leave your church. Depending on how pervasive this problem is, how fast you make changes, and what God’s Spirit decides to do, that departure could be small or it could be substantial. But that cost is small compared to, on the other side of that shift, having a church community that visibly showcases the power of God in the gospel, a community that with supernatural attraction.
The Compelling Community