Had a chance this weekend to dig into Creature of the Word: The Jesus-Centered Church by Matt Chandler, Josh Patterson and Eric Geiger. Intrigued by the title, my first thought when I picked up the book was, “What does creature of the word mean?” Turns out it originated in an important understanding from Martin Luther that “the Church did not form the gospel but was formed (and must be continually formed) by the gospel (p. 15).” Once I caught that significance, it became a must read.
There’s so much being written and communicated about the gospel that its meaning and power could be in danger of being lost in the static! Creature of the Word should help by offering some important clarification along with an extensive look in part one “at what the gospel does to the heart of people, their relationships and how they understand their position and purpose (p. 21).” Part two wrestles with “what a Jesus-centered culture looks like, how it is formed and sustained.”
I really like the way Creature of the Word is organized. Supported every step of the way with extensive scripture references, the authors keep the content clearly focused. Part one provides an excellent examination of Jesus-centered worship, community, service, and multiplication (or evangelism). Again, the combination of scriptural meatiness and illustrations that grab your attention make this a very readable, very valuable work that will end up a resource for lots of pastors and teachers.
Continuing in part two to wrestle with important concepts like the creation of a Jesus-centered culture and preaching a gospel-centered message; the gospel-centered importance of ministry to children and teens, as well as gospel-centered leadership. I found no surprises in the chapter on contexualization. On the flip side, the chapter on Jesus-centered ministry took Creature of the Word into some very challenging aspects of ministry in the 21st century.
Creature of the Word ought to be on your radar. Wherever you imagine your church to sit on the theological landscape, this is a book that will challenge your thinking and provide plenty to chew on. My copy is pretty marked up and I bet yours will be too!