Giving Church Another Chance by Todd Hunter is at once autobiographical, confessional, and even a little theological. Hunter’s story is in some ways not unlike my own. Both he and I grew up in evangelicalism and have had similar experiences with losing connection with the ‘story’ that evangelicalism narrated. As Hunter says, he went from being churched, to dechurched (but yet still ‘sneaking’ off, in his words, to the closest Episcopal church), to rechurched (finding himself a home in the Anglican Mission in the Americas fellowship).
While I have not become an Anglican like Hunter, his narrative of being churched, dechurched, and then rechurched resonates with me. And like Hunter, central to finding a deeper and fresh expression of faith for me was the recovery of spiritual practices that in some quarters of the church have been long forgotten. In Hunter’s opinion these practices need to be recovered and repracticed. Hunter discusses nine practices that he terms as follows: going to church and being sent, quiet prelude and reflection, singing and living the doxology, Scripture reading and embodying the story, hearing the sermon and obedience, following the liturgy, giving an offering and simplicity, taking communion and thankfulness, and finally receiving the benediction and blessing others.
I pretty much never agree with anyone I read 100 percent and this book is no exception (and very much the nature of reading what others have written). But while I sense some tension at some points with Hunter my biggest frustration was that I felt a few times he was set to drive his point home and failed to do so completely. [I feel that Hunter’s book is probably worth a more in depth interaction, and maybe some of this could be covered at that point.] Despite this I believe that Hunter’s book will serve well those for whom it seems intended – those who might be open to giving church another chance and those who may have never had any substantial exposure to church practices. Briefly, I find the following to be the most positive aspects of Hunters book.
First, Hunter does not sugarcoat his frustrations with the church but he does not bash the church either. It is clear that Hunter loves the church and his tone is firm yet gentle.
Second, Hunter emphasizes throughout that the ‘repracticing’ of church practices is to be done in community with others. Hunter’s thoughts here offer us, I feel, a fresh perspective on being the church together.
Third, throughout the book Hunter displays holistic thinking. Though he calls us to move from mere cognitive assertion to actions he does not set beliefs against actions. He sees our beliefs, actions, and spiritual formation as intimately related to each other.
Fourth, for Hunter the spiritual practices are, like beliefs, not ends in themselves. One does the spiritual practices not merely for oneself, but for others as well. The practices are intended to shape and propel us into the narrative and mission of God. The practices themselves are missional!
Todd has graciously given me an extra copy of his book to give away to one of my blog readers. To be entered to win, leave a comment on this blog post. To get a 2nd, 3rd, &/or 4th entry to win, link to this blog post on your Facebook, Twitter, or blog, & then come back here & comment again for each place you’ve shared the link & include a link to where you shared it. Please make each entry a separate comment so that it will be easier to pick a winner. Each comment will be counted as 1 entry, so make sure you follow the instructions carefully to make sure you get the most entries possible. I will be drawing for the winner Monday, June 14th at 5:00pm CST, so please get your entries in before then. This book would make some good summer reading.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Todd Hunter to read and post a review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”