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Not just for Sunday

04 October 2013

Jeremy Crossley sees promise in a plan for 'whole-life disciples'


Imagine Church: Releasing whole-life disciples
Neil Hudson
IVP £9.99
Church Times Bookshop £9  (Use code CT213 )

THIS is one of those credible and timely books: Neil Hudson, the author, has been a pastor in a demanding part of Greater Manchester for more than 25 years, has taught at Regent's College, Vancouver, for 11 years, and is now on the staff of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.

The research for the book has been both wide-ranging and thorough: 5000 people have contributed to the "insights and words" of this book as they have taken part in exploring "how church communities might learn to engage in the central task of whole-life disciple-making". Some of the churches that took part are listed in the acknowledgements, and the range of those that did adds credibility to the findings.

Hudson has also clearly read deeply theologically: the quotations and the reading lists that he provides underline the seriousness and significance of this book.

The book is, in the author's own words, about "how an ordinary church - your church - can become a community of people who help one another live out their whole life - at home, at work, in church, in the neighbourhood - as followers of Jesus, engaged in his mission to the world".

Hudson considers change, vision, the expectations of congregations, what a church committed to whole-life discipleship might look like, and in a chapter, "As you begin", is helpfully clear about the challenges. He follows this up with some practical and attainable ways forward, as well as some resources and links.

Hudson is honest about his own journey. This is, and feels, wonderfully liberating for those of us who are excited by the vision but hesitant about what it will involve. He doesn't offer a quick-fix solution, or one that would work only in certain churches. The vision that has inspired the book is central to the Christian faith, and important for the development of healthy churches; this is a book that any serious Christian and any thoughtful pastor should read.

The Revd Jeremy Crossley is the Rector of St Margaret Lothbury and St Stephen Coleman Street, London.

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