The Provocative Church

grahamtomlinGraham Tomlin is a British theologian based at St Paul’s and wrote the book, the Provocative Church to talk about mission and culture in 21st century Britain.

His belief is that people will only want to hear about the gospel if they are intrigued by Christian life and community lived out by a provocative church that makes people ask the question in the first place.

1 Peter 3:15 which tells us to give a reason for the hope in us assumes that someone has asked a question in that first place so how do we get them to ask that question.

He explains that Jesus words were a commentary on his actions. Without actions no one listens and without words no one understands. So we are to live a life in God’s Kingdom in a way that people will see and then we can explain what is happening.

Even if Jesus didn’t envisage cathedrals and synods, he did envisage small communities of people committed to living out his vision of the kingdom and continuing beyond his life on Earth.

One of the main premises of the book is that we can’t just tell everyone to do evangelism as when a church is a healthy church it will grow.

When the church begins to be truly itself, it will not be able to stop itself being evangelistic.

A shepherd who has no interest in making sure his entire flock finds good pasture and remains healthy and strong will quickly find he has a lot fewer than ninety nine sheep left.

If they are to be effective evangelistically churches need to be interest not just in regeneration but also in transformation. The problem is that in many churches, little attention is paid to this ongoing process of transformation.

It’s probably better to put the question of church health before church growth. Healthy things grow and unhealthy things dont.

The book is very relevant to a culture that distrusts authority and doesn’t look to the church automatically for spiritual meaning.

Can we as a community of God’s people live out honest and meaningful lives so that others ask the question of us and we have the opportunity to answer.

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