It’s about heart change, not behavior change. That’s theconviction of Tim Chester as he seeks to help everyday Christians”connect the truth about God with our Monday-morning struggles.”This interactive book, laid out in workbook fashion, is for newerChristians struggling with sin and for more mature Christians whohave plateaued in their faith as they seek to find victory over sinin their lives. With a conviction that sanctification is God’s work and thejourney to holiness is joyful, Chester guides readers through a”change project”-beginning with the selection of one area of lifethey would like to modify. Each chapter includes a question (e.g.,Why would you like to change? What truths do you need to turn to?)to guide readers as they deal with a specific sin or struggle,truths from God’s word, and a reflection guide to help readersthrough their change project.
Meals have always been important across societies and cultures, a time for friends and families to come together. An important part of relationships, meals are vital to our social health. Author Tim Chester sums it up: “Food connects.”
Chester argues that meals are also deeply theological–an important part of Christian fellowship and mission. He observes that the book of Luke is full of stories of Jesus at meals. These accounts lay out biblical principles. Chester notes, “The meals of Jesus represent something bigger.” Six chapters in A Meal with Jesus show how they enact grace, community, hope, mission, salvation, and promise.
Moving from biblical times to the modern world, Chester applies biblical truth to challenge our contemporary understandings of hospitality. He urges sacrificial giving and loving around the table, helping readers consider how meals can be about serving others and sharing the grace of Christ.
“Church is not a meeting you attend or a place you enter,” write pastors Tim Chester and Steve Timmis. “It’s an identity that is ours in Christ. An identity that shapes the whole of life so that life and mission become ‘total church.'” With that as their premise, they emphasize two overarching principles to govern the practice of church and mission: being gospel-centered and being community-centered. When these principles take precedence, say the authors, the truth of the Word is upheld, the mission of the gospel is carried out, and the priority of relationships is practiced in radical ways. The church becomes not just another commitment to juggle but a 24/7 lifestyle where programs, big events, and teaching from one person take a backseat to sharing lives, reaching out, and learning about God together.
In Total Church, Chester and Timmis first outline the biblical case for making gospel and community central and then apply this dual focus to evangelism, social involvement, church planting, world missions, discipleship, pastoral care, spirituality, theology, apologetics, youth and children’s work. As this insightful book calls the body of Christ to rethink its perspective and practice of church, it charts a middle path between the emerging church movement and conservative evangelicalism that all believers will find helpful.