>> Tuesday, July 20
Stories of real-life men and women
simply being the church
by Felicity Dale.
Forward by George Barna
Non-fiction, Tyndale House Publishers
I had never considered what would happen to our world if all 21st century, American Christians literally followed in the faith-steps of Christ's first followers--the central characters of the Biblical book of Acts. Now that I've read Felicity Dale's An Army of Ordinary People, I can't stop thinking about what the next decade could be like if they did.
This collection of twenty anecdotes shows what happens when a handful of ordinary believers dare to step out of their comfort zones and put their faith, and the example set for us by the early Church, into action. Each individual highlighted in Army does something I long for the confidence to do: they obey the urgent call to share Christ with their world, whether boardroom or bowling alley, with their all their heart, soul, mind, and strength--not with force and might and pulpit pounding, but with love and concern and kindness.
You've likely heard stories of missionaries venturing into the wilderness and bringing record numbers of third-world and/or openly anti-Christian natives to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
Army is nothing of the sort.
Instead, this volume is filled with well-told, engaging tales of, as the title states, ordinary people from all walks of life living out their ordinary lives--with one exception. Each chooses to consciously BE Jesus--in word and deed--to those in their personal circle: co-workers, family, friends, and acquaintances.
Without even realizing it, these simple people become church planters. The churches they plant, however, resemble in no way the church I (or likely you) attend each Sunday morning.
Their "simple" or "house" churches spring up from such seeds as one couple inviting another over for dinner and saying grace before the meal, or a mother giving her daughter permission to invite a friends over for the family's Sunday breakfast and devotion time, or a cubicle-dweller offering to pray for his co-workers when they tell him their troubles. Things you and I can easily do.
Each chapter is followed by an insightful commentary from the author citing and expounding on Biblical examples and references, and reinforcing Jesus' command in Acts 1:8--"Go and make disciples of all nations." This "Great Commission," as Christians refer to it, instructs us to start our mission in our own back yard.
Army is an inspiring look at an arm of Christ's Body I knew existed but didn't realize was actively vibrant and multiplying all around me. Even if the particular flavor of "church" Felicity Dale savors in Army sours you, you will be motivated to take a deeper look at what you thought "church"--the gathering of His followers--was meant to be. It will send believers scurrying to the scriptures to find that 2000 year-old teaching is still relevant.
My rating: 4 out of 5
My thanks to Tyndale House Publishers for providing me with a complimentary copy of “An Army of Ordinary People”.
"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes." Psalm 18:24 (Msg)