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I chose this book to review because I thoroughly agree with the metaphor: our own lives carry the message of Christ to all, better than any sermon.  Dukes’s message in the book is that the church has to be more than Sunday morning worship (which others have said), but even more, that it has to go beyond other forms to which we have restricted church and religion, and into the function of living sent.

I found the first part of the book frustrating to read. Much of it is philosophical, biblically-based explanation rather than real-life stories.  I’m familiar with the Bible passages and explanations already. It might be different for someone who isn’t; but it’s hard for me to see it through that lens.

There’s one chapter at the end packed with stories of real people who are living sent. I would have liked to see these stories fleshed out more and included throughout the book, rather than being crammed into one chapter.

The PS for pastors and other church leaders is, in my opinion, the best part of the book! It’s snarky, practical and to the point.

In summary, I wholeheartedly agree with what the book says, but wish there were more emphasis on detailed real-life stories.

You can find out more at the book website or on Jason Dukes’s blog.

The cover art slyly references these two passages in the postal markings:

John 20:21 (The Message): Jesus repeated his greeting: “Peace to you. Just as the Father sent me, I send you.”

2 Corinthians 3:3 (The Message): Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives—and we publish it.

Disclaimers: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for this review. Links to Amazon are affiliate links; I get a small commission if you purchase through my links.

Earlier in the year, I committed to reading through the Gospel of Mark and blogging about it.  I did end up reading all of Mark with a small group.  We met in the park and called it “Mark in the Park.”  Corny, I know.  It was a terrific experience, though — so terrific that I really didn’t need to blog about Mark!  We got all our thoughts and questions out in the group instead.

This group was affiliated with our local church (of which I am a member), but I find that doing things within the church is becoming less and less important to me.  When my husband and I first joined a United Methodist Church, we jumped almost immediately into church leadership projects, because that’s how we are.  This was great for a while.  It’s fun and rewarding to be creative in designing and leading programs and worship services, and we especially enjoyed being involved in the new church band.

But after a while, it becomes a chore.  And you realize that maybe it’s not bearing as much fruit as you thought it was.  The local church itself may benefit, but are we really doing any good for anyone else?  We spend time planning things that will bring people IN to the church, but we don’t spend enough time doing things OUT in the world.

So we’ve recently backed out of the church leadership game.  I actually stopped attending services for a few weeks, too; I think I needed the break.  We’re maintaining our connection with the local church, especially with small groups, but it is no longer the focus of our spiritual life.

We want to be the church in the world.  We’re still figuring out what that means.  Lately I’ve been looking for ways to be involved in the community without dragging the local church into it.  For instance, I’m organizing a monthly Kidical Mass bike ride in our area.  I invited some people from the church, but it was definitely not a Church Event.  I was also not proselytizing.  Just trying to do something good for the people who live here. I’m also making an effort to talk to more people in the neighborhood.

Today, I read the Fall 2008 issue of Leadership Journal, and I’d like to close by sharing some quotes from it that really struck me.

“…to be missional means to be sent into the world; we do not expect people to come to us.” –Alan Hirsch

“Is it just about trying to grow your own local assembly? As opposed to going out and loving people and not getting any credit for it” — Pastor Dave Gibbons, in an article by Helen Lee.

We used to invite them to attend church; now we invite them to be the church.  I used to ask, ‘What can we do to get more people to attend our church?”  Now I ask, ‘How can I best equip and empower the people to go be the church in the marketplace where God has called them to serve?” –Walt Kallestad

From a cartoon of a church sign: “Midtown Fellowship:  Join us! (and gain, easily, 75-100 friends on Facebook)”

Let’s be the face of Christ in the world, everywhere we go, and in everything we do.