Book Review: Church Reset: God’s Design for So Much More by Jack Wilkie
Published by Focus Press, Inc. (June 20, 2020)
From focuspress.org: https://www.focuspress.org/churchreset
Paperback $13.99 + shipping
From Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08BKXHF3L
Paperback $14.00 (Prime)
Publisher Description: Shouldn’t church be… more?
If you’ve ever driven home on a Sunday with that question on your mind, you are not alone. When we read about the church in the Bible there’s a beauty and an appeal to it that so often seems missing. In our busy, distracted, consumeristic world it seems as though becoming a self-sacrificial, tight-knit, Christlike family like the early Christians is a pipe dream.
In Church Reset: God’s Design for So Much More, Jack Wilkie traces the problem back to its roots to show how we’ve deviated from God’s plan and how we can get back on track. How can we stop operating as an organization and start living like a family? How do we stop creating church customers and start making dedicated disciples? How do we abandon man-made strategies and rediscover the power of God’s design? Church Reset casts an exciting vision for what Christ’s church can be by pointing back to what it was meant to be from the very start.
About the Author
Jack Wilkie preaches for the Forney church of Christ in Forney, TX. He is also the editor of The Focus Press Blog, where he writes on Christian living, the church, and cultural issues relevant to Christians. He has written one other book, available excusively from Focus Press – “Failure: What Christian Parents Need to Know About American Education,” and “Church Reset: God’s Design for So Much More.”
- Shouldn’t the Church Be … More
- Going Out of Business
- Church Reset
- Jesus Is the Mission
- One Another
- “Go” vs. “Bring Them In”
- Out of Gas
- Holy Spirit
- Teaching Christ
- Living Christ
Value of the Book
This book makes a very challenging point when it comes to the work, focus, and growth of the Lord’s church. Everything comes down to one point: The main work, and therefore activity, of the church AND of Christians is to make disciples. Based on that, evangelism is not a program, but part of the fabric of Christian life. He points out that a healthy congregation is not spinning around an amazing preacher but is a network of working and growing Christians. Being the church is not focused on what we do in the building, but on what we do for the rest of the week.
Weaknesses of the Book
Several times in reading the book I felt like the author had a very negative view of the church as she is. Granted, he makes the disclaimer that this is not the case. Still, the very premise of the book implies that the whole thing needs to be turned off and back on again.
The author seems to express the idea that there are things that the Spirit does directly to and for the Christian, but that in order for that to happen we have to get out of His way.
I would not use this book as the basis for a class. However, as a personal read I see value in it. I think it could help church leaders rethink the way that the work is approached. I also think that it might have some value with those who are “on the fringe,” encouraging them to step up to the plate and BE the church rather than COMING to church.
I certainly believe that doing things in the way God prescribed will lead to growth (both internal and numerical), but that’s not the same thing as “Try this method and you’ll get lots of people.” The important thing is to focus on process and not result. God gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6). It’s left to us to leave that part to Him and be faithful to His way of doing things. That’s the aim of this book. (Loc 98)
Going Out of Business
The businesslike approach to church creates customers who can only give a few hours per week and who can only consume, which places the onus on the providers to keep serving up these spiritual meals for the customers. Customers then choose the church where the preaching and teaching best meet their needs and the style they prefer. (Loc 366)
Just like the restaurant that rises or falls based on what they offer on the menu, so churches today have come to rise or fall based on what they offer on their menu of activities and programs. (Loc 380)
Perfect attendance is not a spiritual gift. God gives each and every one of us the Spirit for serving the people around us in some way. Until we have a system that disciples people and helps them find their role in the building up of the body, we are saying to the hand, “I have no need of you.” (Loc 643)
Jesus Is the Mission
Timothy’s job as the preacher at Ephesus was not just to preach good sermons. He was to equip others to join him in the mission of developing disciples. (Loc 933)
In short, a church full of Jesus followers won’t need to have their Christianity scheduled for them by some organizational leader. They will perform the church’s three-fold work of evangelism, edification, and benevolence organically, as part of who they are. (Loc 981)
what we mean when we ask people to commit and serve the church says a lot about our understanding of the church. These things further the “individual contributing to an organization” mindset. “Serving the church” should mean serving the people of the church in some way. (Loc 1057)
That kind of closeness—to be known at our worst and still loved—is what we’re all longing for. We can only get that by confession. (Loc 1394)
“Go” vs “Bring Them In”
We gather together to worship Him, not ourselves, and not our visitors. Marketing our lively worship experience is not the same as evangelism. (Loc 1500)
People were still interested in the Gospel. They just weren’t interested in giving up their night to walk into a building full of strangers to hear what they saw as our interpretation of the Bible. Honestly…who could blame them? (Loc 1542)
Out of Gas
there’s a large difference between asking God to help us with what we’ve already planned to do rather than putting our plans at His feet and asking for guidance. To draw on Abraham’s example, when we do the former, we’re asking God to bless Ishmael rather than accepting that He might have another child in mind. (Loc 1761)
When we have the proper understanding of prayer’s effect on our spiritual lives and the life of the church, we stop asking God to make a clear path for us and start asking Him to strengthen us for whatever path He has for us. That’s exactly what our brethren did in Acts 4:29-30. Where we might pray for safety and an end to persecution, they prayed for boldness to speak regardless of the consequence. (Loc 1824)
Jesus was the greatest preacher and teacher of all time, yet nowhere do we see Him saying, “Alright, that’s your kingdom class for this week! Go act on what you heard, and I’ll see you next Sabbath!” (Loc 2036)
Frankly, the small group method is exactly what it would look like if someone tried to shoehorn the Biblical need for community and disciple making into the business model. (Loc 2098)
As a church leader, this may very well mean scaling back on the church schedule. If people are constantly expected to be at the building they aren’t going to have time to practice these things. (Loc 2204)
When it comes to helping people grow in Christ, the kitchen table can be just as effective as the pulpit—possibly even more. It’s in the informal setting of the home that we can share questions, help people learn at their own level and pace, and pray specific prayers together. It’s where Jesus did much of His teaching. (Loc 2260)
Because disciples are hand-made, a church culture of loving, family-like Jesus-followers can not be built any faster than the disciples are made. (Loc 2495)
When “church” is 90% or so focused on what happens in the building on Sunday, and women aren’t allowed to participate there, then it’s not unfair to say that women are second class citizens of sorts. If, on the other hand, the Sunday gathering is just one part (an important part, but still one of many) of what the church does, we can meaningfully say, “Women are allowed to do nearly everything but that.” (Loc 2553)
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