Taking a little break from our non-violence series again today, I thought I would share another book with you that I recently finished. I know that many of you have asked for some resources and helpful books to read regarding what we call “church” and hopefully the books I mention here will be of value to you.
Today’s book is called, “Exiles” by Michael Frost.
This book is definitely one of the best books that I have read all year. (Okay, so we’re only 6 months through the year, but I do read a lot).
The word, “Missional” is maybe the hottest church-fad word around these days. In fact, I hear it all the time in staff meetings and among peers.
“What are we doing to be more missional?”
I hear church leaders asking this question all the time, but sometimes I wonder, “Do we even know what that means?”
The danger of “Missional” becoming the pop-church word is that it becomes absorbed into the programmatic paradigm of Western consumer-church. “Missional” becomes just another in a long line of “cool” programs to get people into our buildings. But mission is so much more!
If you really want to understand the concept of a “Missional Church” then this is required reading for Class 101. “Exiles” is the missional handbook for a new generation of Jesus-followers trying to feel their way through a world that is broken and a church that feels irrelevant.
In his own words, the author says his book is written for:
“…those Christians who find themselves falling into the cracks between contemporary secular Western culture and a quaint, old-fashioned church culture of respectability and conservatism.
This book is for the many people who wish to be faithful followers of the radical Jesus but no longer find themselves able to fit into the bland, limp, unsavory straitjacket of a church that seems to be yearning to return to the days when ‘everyone’ used to attend church and ‘Christian family values’ reigned.
This book is for those who can’t remain in the safe modes of church and who wish to live expansive, confident Christian lives in this world without having to abandon themselves to the values of contemporary society. This book is for those Christians who feel themselves ready (or yearning) to jump ship but don’t want to be left adrift in a world where greed, consumerism, laziness, and materialism toss them about endlessly and pointlessly. Such Christians live with the nagging tension of being at home neither in the world nor in the church as they’ve known it.”
If any of those words describe you or what you have felt in regards to church and life, then I would visit Amazon.com immediately and order this book.
This book is broken down into four sections that deal with the “danger” of being a self-imposed exile in this world. According to Frost, our primary citizenship and allegiance to the kingdom of God makes us EXILES to the power structures of this world. Thus, these “self-imposed EXILES” continue their hope and heritage by clinging to their Dangerous Memories, Promises, Criticism and Songs. Each section has its own unique points of interest and exploration.
Among his best insights is the idea that in trying to create churches with “deep community” we have pursued the wrong goal. Of course community is good, but community for the sake of community, Frost argues, will ultimately fail. Real community is formed by a group of people “exiling” themselves from the way of the world and serving in the trenches of mission together.
For Frost, a common mission forges the deepest community. Authentic and meaningful community is essential, but it is the by-product of our involvement in a mission together. Mission is the goal; community is what happens during the journey.
If the future of church is even remotely interesting to you, I cannot recommend this book more highly. Michael Frost writes with a very direct and honest voice that will bring enlightenment to the casual reader as well as enough research and detail to enthrall the more intense studier.
This book is a MUST READ!
If I could, I’d hold every American Christian’s eye-lids open to make sure they finished it. 🙂
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Good to read your thoughts on EXILES, Nick.
Grace & peace