I was privileged to get a copy of Brad House’s book Community, the latest in the RE:LIT series. House serves as a pastor at Mars Hill Church, Seattle, where he oversees community groups for the multi-site church. For me, a good book is built on the basics of God’s Word and filled with practicality, or what the foundational truth from God’s Word should look like fleshed out.
The tension in a book on a particular facet of ministry is that while a broad cross section of evangelicalism may agree that something is important and even rooted in God’s Word, we may disagree on its practice. I thought House did a great job of helping us see that what Mars Hill Church has chosen to do, how it has come out of Biblical conviction, but isn’t meant to be replicated by every church. We are responsible, however, to flesh out community in our midst and this is the real strength of the book.
In Part 1, the foundation (or as he calls them, Building Blocks For Life) is unpacked. This lays some biblical footings for how the book will flesh itself out in the later chapters. Why do we need community? How did God create us for this and other truths.
Part 2, health plan, helps to lead us in a positive direction by helping us see the different facts of community that need to be considered. How should groups function, how often should they meet, where should they meet, what should they do? Are you getting a feel for the practical side yet?
Part 3, treatment, gives us ways to effect change in our groups. In other words, I’m given practical tools in this section to go about changing things from the way we’ve always done them. This includes not only changing the past, but equipping leaders for the future.
Positives in this book include getting a great feel for what the Bible says about community, how those are fleshed out in a local church taking those commands seriously, humility in communicating what has been pursued, stories of how pursuing this has helped, as well as what I’ve already mentioned: practical things.
Negatives for me were that it is a longer read. At times I felt the book drag. This might have been my fatigue or the time of life when I’m reading this (3 kids under 5), but as I pressed through, it proved to be time well spent.
House has definitely thought deeply about this issue. And if community is something you would like help in applying or tweaking in your particular ministry, then this book would be a book worthy of your time and investment.