Over coffee with Joel Garver I learned of a new book that the small group leaders of City Church, under Tuck Bartholomew, are going through. Its called It Takes A Church To Raise A Christian, the author is Tod E. Bolsinger (Bolsinger is pastor of San Clemente Presbyterian, Tod’s blog is here). Joel strongly encouraged me to pick it up and give it a read and I’m glad I have. Bolsinger opens the book stating his reason for translating what was a PhD dissertation at Fuller under Ray Anderson and Robert Banks, into a more popular study that could engage innovative pastors and spiritually thirsty Christians. Listen to his opening thoughts;

“In this conversation, I want to help move to the forefront of our thinking an ancient biblical imperative. It hasn’t been rejected so much as ignored or forgotten. But it is critical nonetheless: As God is, so the church should be. As God does, the church should do. With the result being that the more the church is like God, the more individual souls will become like Christ.

Bolsinger reverses the typical direction of spiritual development that Churches tend to teach today. Instead of beginning with piety for the individual Bolsinger suggests that the chief focus of the Church’s spiritual development needs to happen at a corporate level, and that ‘the more the church is like God, the more individual souls will become like Christ’. I think he’s discussing a very important focus that’s lost in many churches today. We tend to set our maturity weight scales on individuals and not on our community, as though if we grow strong leaders the body will mature, while that may have a measure of truth to it, its also carries with it a problem. How can we develop leaders without community and should we? But we have to start somewhere don’t we? I think as I move through Bolsinger’s book a lot of important questions are going to be raised and some old assumptions I’ve carried about the way to grow in my imitation of Christ will be challenged. I encourage a reading of this unique book, click here to purchase it.

 What has your impression been as you’ve read different Church growth books, are they focused on the individual, on leaders, on small groups, or on the community as a whole? Does this question of appropriate or most beneficial focus really matter all that much?