Monday, 16 December 2013

Church Zero

I didn't know much about this book. I had never heard of Peyton Jones, all I knew was that this book was free on Amazon for a short period of time, so I downloaded it. It looked so hip that it took me a little bit to decipher the cover to work out what the title of the book was. After reading this book, I have to say it is well worth the price :)

Peyton is a church planter from England and is writing mostly to Americans to help steer the Church in a better direction before the culture over there becomes completely post-Christendom and the Church is left standing there not knowing what to do - failing to realise that Europe (and Australia I might add) are already down this track.

Petyon argues what is needed are more churches planted and less mega-churches. We need to go back to the first century, see what church was like back then and follow that model. What we don't need is some CEO worried about numbers in their already massive church. If/when that happens they may aim at making a more polished/professional service each week to get more people because less people means less income. Instead it would be better to still have 5,000 Christians in one area, but lets have them meet in smaller communities where the ministers know their name, and where each member is actively taking part in the Church's mission to make more disciples. This model means leaders need to give up control.

Looking at Ephesians 4:11-13 Peyton identifies five types of leadership roles in the Church: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Currently our churches only really want pastors/teachers (I might add some churches want pastors/theologians), this is to our determinant as we need all five leadership roles. If it is good enough for Voltron it is good enough for the Church.

Like with what I have heard from Driscoll (and perhaps Grudem) there is a distinction drawn between capital "A" Apostles and lower case "a" apostles, and capital "P" Prophets and lower case "p" prophets. The capital letter guys have been set down in the Bible, they are not coming back. Petyon says with the lowercase apostles you could insert "church planter". He is like a Swiss army knife, in that he does all the roles for a short period of time, but also like a Swiss army knife, they really are only good at one or maybe two things and the rest of the tools (or gifts) they have need to substituted with something better over time. With the lowercase prophet you could insert someone who constantly reminds people of the presence of God and maybe unpopular as they speak to the heart (they are like the sniper on the team).

This five fold ministry model (I think I got that phrase from Michael Frost in The Shaping of Things to Come) in Ephesians does not to leave the church work up to the guys who have these roles, but for them to equip the saints to perform these tasks. The main idea of the leaders of the Church to help it's members is to proclaim and demonstrate the message of Jesus.

Over all I liked this book. I didn't really have any expectations about this book and was pleasantly surprised. Peyton style of writing I found quite enjoying. He explains things simply drawing from personal experience, the Bible and from pop culture, sometimes even using quite nerdy referenced. For example some people may not know who (or what) the Sarlacc is in Star Wars, but I did and so enjoyed the references he made.

If you are thinking about leadership in the church, then I would suggest you get your hands on this book.

Other links
Book website - You can read the first chapter on this site.
Here is an interview with Peyton on this book that also covers the content in this book.
What is the mission of the church? - This book is also worth a read when thinking about the Church.


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