Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Review of John Burke's No Perfect People Allowed: creating a come as you are culture in the church

This book is written from a pastor of Gateway Community Church of Austin, Texas, which multiplied as a new church exponentially in a few short years, largely by reaching those who would never darken the door of a traditional church.

The book is full of true stories from the church of how people's lives were reached and transformed. The emphasis was to get people in small groups that would accept them as they are and let them ask any questions. Truth is spoken, but only in a context of grace in the form of complete acceptance.

The premise is that only Jesus can transform the lives of people as they put their faith in him and commit themselves to follow him. Then Jesus by the Spirit and in the community begins to transform their lives as they respond to his working. This approach also does not push people to "make a decision" to want Jesus and what he did to apply to them (stated more than once as an understanding in the book of commital to Jesus). Recognized is the fact that most every conversion involves a process people undergo before they are ready to commit themselves to Christ.

A large proposition of this book is that the church community is meant to be a family to one and all who come. Only in this context can people begin to see and respond to the life changing love that is extended to them through this community in Jesus.

John Burke is also president of Emerging Leadership Initiative and has a strong call in the book for churches to find leaders who are gifted to plant churches. Their church and churches that are planted by them tithe 10% towards God's kingdom work in planting more like-minded churches. And leaders are systematically sought who could be the church planters and pastors of these churches.

Burke's vision is large. The book is challenging and inspiring. It does go against the grain of how churches often think and practice. Burke gives answers from Gateway's experience of what has helped people to come to faith. He is humble in acknowledging that they don't have all the answers nor is God leading all churches to do what they are doing. But he does believe that if more churches are not doing in their own God-led way what they are doing that the church in the United States will, in time go the way of Europe, evident in the steadily decreasing attendance to church of Americans each year.

A book that I believe could have an impact for good on every Christian and church.


Lukas McKnight said...

It's on my reading list...hopefully soon!

Ted Gossard said...

Lukas, Yes. I want to own a copy.

To everyone:
I should add that this book excels in understanding where people are at: their woundedness/brokeness, aloneness, etc. And knowing how to minister as a body to such. It's very good that way.

And it doesn't stereotype people. Has learned, I suppose, not to do so.

Another thing I like is when he says the people that have come to them in Austin are the same kind of people that are around us all. And that John himself (and all the rest of us to be sure) likewise are broken and certainly not all together. Amen.