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Church for Every Context
An Introduction to Theology and Practice
by Michael Moynagh with Philip Harrold
Publisher:SCM imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published:01 June 2012
This book is extremely thorough – it has 490pp. It contains much useful information, particularly on the theological underpinnings of the pioneer church movement. It is however much longer than it needs to be – a whole chapter is devoted, for example, to saying in complex vocabulary that pioneer ministers need to be good at getting on with people. It is also weak on actual practice, particularly in section three, which is devoted to ‘a series of hypotheses that combine theory and experience-based wisdom’ – the authors tend to slither into clauses beginning ‘perhaps’, and painting vague pictures of what might be, with no clear indication of how one thing (e.g. outreach to mothers and toddlers) might ‘perhaps’ morph into another (e.g. a more recognisable form of church). If you are a pioneer minister it’s probably a handbook you must read – but for the ordinary reader a short theological introduction followed by specific examples of actual pioneer situations, successful or not, and some analysis of the key features, might be more helpful.
To be specific, it is in 4 parts: Past and Present; Towards a Theological Rationale; Bringing Contextual Churches to Birth; and Growing to Maturity. The first provides a helpful overview of contextual churches in scripture and history, and offers some sociological perspectives. The second considers the theological underpinning of the Fresh Expressions movement. The third is the vaguest and the most full of technical vocabulary. The fourth looks at the key elements of discipleship, worship, community and sustainability. It’s well researched, but perhaps lacks its own voice.
Reviewer: Alison Morgan (07/11/12)