What exactly is a living church? Author John Stott explains, “We need more radically conservative churches: ‘conservative’ in the sense that they conserve what Scripture plainly requires, but radical in relation to that combination of tradition and convention that we call ‘culture.’ Scripture is unchangeable, but culture is not.”
The Living Church brings together a number of characteristics of what the author calls “authentic” or “living” church. The marks, being clearly biblical, are timeless and need to be preserved. We are encouraged to become learning churches, caring churches, worshipping churches, and evangelising churches. John Stott unpacks the Bible’s wisdom rigorously with a teacher’s skill and applies it faithfully with a pastor’s heart. Becoming a living church is not an impossible goal.
For more by John Stott, see John Stott Collection (7 vols.).
“First, I am assuming that we are all committed to the church.” (Page 19)
“what is God’s vision for his church? What are the distinguishing marks of a living church?” (Page 21)
“Too much of our worship is ritual without reality, form without power, fun without fear, religion without God.” (Page 43)
“Secondly, the early church’s worship was both joyful and reverent.” (Page 30)
I really enjoyed reading it. It was vintage Stott—with all his familiar qualities: faithful, rigorous biblical exposition; crystal clarity; challenging contemporary applications with plenty of punch; great wisdom—not least in holding to the balances of scripture without blunting its edges. I am delighted he took the church as his theme. There are very few accessible introductory books on the subject that are thoroughly biblical and evangelical. I would happily give this book to anyone at St. Ebbe’s. Its simplicity makes it accessible to young Christians, but there is also much to challenge the thinking and practice of mature believers.
—Vaughan Roberts, rector, St. Ebbe’s Church, Oxford
For many Christians church has become a meeting to attend rather than an essential identity. So it is great to have John Stott looking at the Christian community with his typical clarity. He makes the Scriptures speak with immediacy to our contemporary challenges. This is a timely book with so many people considering the future shape of the church, offering, as it does, biblical parameters for the discussion within a trinitarian framework.
—Tim Chester, pastor, The Crowded House, Sheffield
In a time of questioning and turmoil around what a real church should look like in the 21st century The Living Church is a beautifully written, inspiring and thoughtful book. The reader is given a vision for a church whose roots are deeply biblical and whose touch reaches a dying world. As I read I laughed, cried and ended up on my knees before God. I wholeheartedly commend this book.
—Amy Orr-Ewing, director of programs, Oxford Center for Christian Apologetics
John Stott is known around the world as a preacher, evangelist, and writer. He was one of the main contributors to the Lausanne Covenant (1974) and the founder of Langham Partnership, which seeks to equip a new generation of Bible teachers around the world.