Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Review of An Army of Ordinary People by Felicity Dale

Author: Felicity Dale
Pages: 304pgs
Publisher: Barna
Price: 10.19
Genre: Church/Church Growth
Quick Summary:
I recently received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers to review. So here goes...
“No matter where you are in life, you can serve God right there.” This book is a collection of people that have practiced what our author (among others) calls “simple church”. All of the people in this book have been used by God with great results. God can do the same in your life. God uses ordinary people, this book is their story.
What I Liked:
Sounds good doesn’t it? God using ordinary people. That much I like. I also like to hear stories. Biography is one of my favorite sections. These stories are compelling and well-written. This book also made me think. But it also raised the hair on the back of my neck…
What I Disliked:
I am afraid it will take someone far wiser than me to offer a thorough and helpful critique of this “simple/organic church movement”. There are areas in this book where I can shout a hearty amen. I think the people featured in this book often rightly see problems within the church. I agree with many of their assessments. I commend their drive to follow the Spirit and to follow Jesus. I heartily commend their desire to see the gospel go to all the nations. And it is encouraging to see churches planted in many places by many ordinary people. But then, in my opinion, it goes astray.
It seems that they are really quick to throw away the “organized church”. That will receive a hearty amen in our non-authoritarian culture. And I agree that “organized church” has many problems and is rife with many abuses. But is the answer to start your own “unorganized church”? Such a response has its own problems.
Furthermore, this book seems to have a Pentecostal/Charismatic flavor. There are numerous irresponsible uses of “God told me”. How in the world can we question it then?
The final major critique that I have is the overall view of the church. I just do not buy the definition of a local church being “where two or more are gathered in my name”. Especially when this means that someone gets fed up with an “organized” local church and decides to buck the system and start their own “church”. I’m sorry but you cannot call it a church when it is mostly comprised of unbelievers.
I will freely admit that I may be overstating a few things and that someone else could provide a much healthier and helpful critique. But as for me these are the things that caused my theological antennae to raise up.
Should You Buy It?
I cannot in good conscience recommend this to many people. Felicity Dale seems like a great lady. It seems like she loves Jesus. I just disagree with her view of church. What I find in this book seems to be dangerous and an inevitable glory-robbing view of God and church. But I could be wrong.
Rating 2 out of 5 stars

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