Giving Church Another Chance. Todd D. Hunter. Finding new meaning in spiritual practices. IVP Books 2010
T.H.- director of West Coast church planting and bishop for the Anglican Mission in the Americas. Former director at Vineyard churches and Alpha, USA.
Todd represents a segment of ‘boomers’ that have been out there right along but we have not heard from them. This is a positive endorsement of church and how it can continue to be an effective ‘lighthouse of life’. “After reading this book, you will never think about worship and spiritual practices the same way.” Phyllis Tickle. Todd’s own personal church experience gives validity to what he has to share. He seeks to give his readers a new appreciation of such fundamental spiritual practices as having a quiet time, singing the doxology, (corporate) Scripture reading, hearing sermons, liturgy, giving (tithing), and communion (Eucharist). His goal is to share “an affirmative way to reengage the spiritual practices of church”. (Preface) Todd refers to this process as ‘repracticing’.
Church meetings have from its beginnings and will continue to be a part of church. They need to be understood as “the spiritual practices of the church as a launching pad to life”. (41) We must realize that we go out from these meetings as ambassadors of Christ. Churches should function as our “embassies”. (57) Believing must result in loving.
We need times of “quiet prelude” (57) in our lives. This should and could happen in church, a time of reflection and contemplation. Such prelude can lead to a “centered peace”, (64) a Sabbath rest, which is integrated with work.
“Through repracticing the doxology, we radiate the glory of God in the routine of our life.” (70) The practice of corporate Bible Reading has become less and less. Learning to ‘live the Bible’ needs to be our motivation for reading it.
The author looks for answers to the question, “Why doesn’t our faith work?” (100) He uses the analogy of a yoke to explain how our commitment should work. The ‘yoke’ is not an option; it is part of being a Christ follower. Suggestions are made to help us to hear sermons properly. (Practical stuff.)
Liturgy is explained in a much broader terms than many of us probably understand it, i.e. “liturgy as service to God in the form of serving others as the work of the people of God”. (121) (Romans 12:1) A life of simplicity should characterize our habits of giving and tithing, not a legalistic, compassionless system.
“No matter how we might explain it, the Eucharist is meant to be a real continuation of the life of Christ.” (137) We remember but we also look to the future and “a life of holiness and service to others”. (138) Such a life is reflected by obedient sacrifice. We need to remember ‘the principal of the towel’ when we focus on the meal in the upper room.
A benediction “is both a blessing to be received and to pass on to others”. (148) And so we are being equipped (empowered) by the benediction to be a blessing to others.
The discipline of ‘repracticing spiritual practices’ should be undertaken one at a time. “The speed of gaining information is very fast, the speed of godliness is very slow.” (160) The historic practices of the church still have life-giving qualities. They must however, be ‘repracticed’.