Book Review: The Compelling Community

In The Compelling Community, Mark Dever and Jamie Dunlop examine how the church is to be the testimony of God’s power to the world. Through Scripture and practical examples from Capitol Hill Baptist Church, the authors investigate how the local church can take steps towards becoming the community that God has ordained it to be. The book is divided into four parts: A Vision for Community, Fostering Community, Protecting Community, and Community at Work. In the first part, the authors invite readers to consider why the church is different from any other club or organization in the world. Dunlop and Dever argue that the church is a supernatural community so it needs to be empowered by God to be attractive and effective in the community that it serves. When we use our own methods, strategies, and initiatives to create community, we lose sight of the fact that the church body is not simply any man-made institution. Instead, we are to strive for transformation and growth both in depth and breadth that is only possible through God’s divine action. Flowing from this central theme, the other chapters illustrate the practical implications of this supernatural community of believers and how it can influence its surrounding neighbourhood. In the second part, the authors explore practical topics of church administration such as membership, diversity, preaching, prayer, and relationships. The third part involves tough areas such as addressing sin in the church and responding to discontentment. The last part offers advice on how a local church body can evangelize effectively and the topic of church planting.

I find this book to be a good reminder to church members in general and church leaders in specific. The illustrations and suggestions offered are intriguing though readers will need to exercise discernment in transposing these thought-provoking ideas into their own church community. Although the book’s concepts and findings may not necessarily be revolutionary, the helpful advice given by Dunlop and Dever is timely in our consumerist North American culture. As leaders, we are often anxious for results and success in our church ministries which oftentimes lead us to make decisions that are wise in our own eyes. However, the authors remind us that all of our church’s plans, strategies, and goals need to be empowered by God to be effective. It is only through His divine action that the church community can become and continue to be a shining display of the gospel to those walking in darkness. May we encourage one another to build a church that glorifies Him who not only calls us individually to be His children but also to thrive together as God’s household.

In compliance with Federal Trade Commission regulations, I was provided a free review copy of this book from Crossway.

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