The purpose of the book is to question some incorrect premises of a traditional church and then, with different suppositions, build a new model in its place. One false assumption is that unbelievers do not have a desire to serve the needy and therefore should not be invited to participate in church sponsored service projects. Instead we should acknowledge that the very act of serving together is a vital way to show unbelievers that the church does what it says it should do and, at the same time, creates a healthy atmosphere of belonging before believing.
Another assumption questioned is that the best place for a new believer is in a discipleship class. The authors focus on the benefits of experiencing life together before, during, and after someone becomes a believer. The authors ask, “Where’s the Bible in all of the community stuff? The answer is everywhere!… It comes across in my e-mails as I respond to people’s questions.” This idea of daily sharing life together is better for discipleship than classrooms.
The final assumption that I’ll include is the specific instruction to create community outside of the church building by letting people live with you, having dinners together, including others in doing what you already love to do, and going out of your way to build relationships are several practical ideas. Through this the authors expose a common mindset that “Christian” activity primarily should happen in a building or in regular meetings. They want to elevate the value of shared life and community. Many believers would agree with this concept, but rarely structure their life and ministry around these ideas.
The negative part of the book comes from the constant pejorative comments made about the “institutional” church. These comments vastly outnumber the authors’ helpful insights. The authors create an image of the church that no one would ever like and then pretend the image is representative of all churches. The distortion weakens many of the helpful points that the authors offer and makes a book with many five star points into a two star book.