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Ladies and Gentlemen: The Church has left the building

Rob and Andy Frost, (Ed) Mark Williamson

Authentic Media, 2008

RRP $29.95

Reviewed by Karyl Davison, lecturer in Christian education, PLC, and Rural Ministry Coordinator

This little, easy-to-read book, is the story of the vision and development of the Pentecost Festival, a celebration of creativity and compassion in central London.

A diverse group of writers attempts to express a unique portrait of Jesus in their attempts to communicate the gospel message in new ways: the compassionate Jesus, the creative Jesus, the eco-warrior Jesus the serving Jesus are just a few.

The book is exuberant and energetic, it even hits the mark in some ways, suggesting for instance, that “sometimes we are guilty of waiting in our church buildings, expecting that one day people will just starting coming back to our church meetings”.

But it doesn’t quite achieve what it sets out to do.

While it does celebrate different approaches to transmitting the Christian faith it never really leaves the traditional model of evangelism.

The ultimate aim is to get people currently outside the church to come to church instead of attempting to develop authentic relationships with people so they can see in us an example of Jesus.

The book also views serious and complex issues such as poverty in a very simplistic way suggesting that at its core, poverty is caused by a destructive mind-set that says “I don’t matter”.

The solution?

Tell them that Jesus understands and God loves them.

This will lead to an “epiphany that changes everything” because when a child in poverty says ‘I matter’ “they are taking their first step out of poverty”.

This is not to suggest that knowing that they are loved and valued by God does nothing for a person be they living in poverty or not, but it ignores the complex and structural causes of poverty that are all pervasive.

If you can find the book in a discount bin, go for it, but if you’re looking for a way of being church differently I’d look elsewhere.