the other day, i stumbled across an interesting book in the non-fiction section of my local public library. the title is, “the abundant community: awakening the power of families and neighborhoods.” i picked it up because i was intrigued by the title. little did i suspect it would alter my thinking about the church.
“the abundant community” is written by peter block (a civic/organization developer) and john mcknight (a community activist). the book is not about church. in fact, there is not a hint of religion/spirituality in it anywhere (even though there is a quote from henri nouwen).
apparently, the authors are passionate about helping people move away from what they call “consumer systems” and toward taking greater ownership of their lives through neighborhood associations.
instead of “abundant community,” i saw “biblical community.” instead of “neighborhoods,” i read “small groups.” the research/conclusions in the book have direct application to the church.
it is evident to anyone with even a passing interest in the church that there is something shifting underfoot. even guys that are leading successful (by contemporary standards) churches are talking about reformation. the conversation has shifted from the need for change to the inevitability of change. for years, we thought it was about methodology (house church, emerging church, attractional church, etc), but the impending change is much more fundamental. it goes beyond the way we do church, to the way we imagine church.
over the next hew days, i plan to share some of my impressions of the book. further, i hope to describe the ways in which my thinking has been affected.
it feels to me like i’m onto something.