In Life in Community, Dustin Willis urges Christians to recover the identity of the church as a transformed community on mission. The author points out that as we have been saved through faith in Christ, we are now family members that are joined to live life together and spread the gospel message to those around us. Willis first establishes the foundation of why living in community is important and how the mercy we receive from God becomes the glue that keeps believers together. The author argues that the most effective way to convert unbelievers is to cultivate gospel-infused communities that attract and invite others to come see the precious treasure that we bear within us. The majority of the book then goes on to discuss the many different aspects of living life together such as speaking truth in love, bearing suffering together, and honouring one another. The author uses examples from history, his family, and his church to illustrate the powerful effects of what the gospel can do to not only redeem and transform individuals but entire communities when the people of God come together to live life together through the Spirit. The book is brisk and the author’s writing style is fairly engaging with many real-life examples that allow the reader to see how this could take place in their own communities. Each chapter ends with several questions to recap the material and help the reader think more deeply about the points made. At the end of the book, there is a group study guide that provides opportunity for a group of believers to discuss and contemplate how to put the lesson material in action.
I would recommend all Christians to read this book as it is crucial to have a biblical understanding of what a gospel-transformed community should look like. Without a biblically informed perspective on the local church, we can easily fall into a twisted, selfish view of how the church should serve our own needs. One danger is treating the church as a private members club where we meet together on club days to have fun and talk about life. The other mindset is to view church as a spiritual drop-in clinic where we come in for our weekly dose of spiritual adrenaline. This book however reminds Christians that the church is the family of God formed through the mercy of God, the precious blood of Christ, and the transforming power of the Spirit. Willis makes a crucial point that the church does not exist for our enjoyment but for the glory of God and to fulfill His mission. Thus, when we encourage, love, and care for one another with God’s love, we attract others to come and savour the grace and mercy found in the gospel message.
In compliance with Federal Trade Commission guidelines, I received a review copy from Moody Press in exchange for a book review.