Friday, October 07, 2005

Review: The Revolutionized Church Of The 21st Century

About a month ago I blogged Russell Burrill's book The Revolutionized Church of the 21st Century, and now that I've finished it it's time to do a review. The book "addresses our urgent need to recover a sense of community through small, relational groups." The author deals with the theological whys of doing relational church, starting at Genesis and moving through the Old and New Testaments to Wesley and finally the early Adventist movement.

For me the greatest contribution of Revolutionized Church is Burrill's work on the "social meeting" of the early Adventist movement. The "social meeting" was a relational time when Adventist congregations would meet together and give brief testimonies about their spiritual journey and receive encouragement from fellow believers. In early Adventism the "social meeting" was considered to be where church really happened and was considered more important than having a preaching service.

The point of Revolutionized Church is that relationships are the point of Christianity, and if we miss them everything else falls apart. God's whole purpose in setting up his people is to bring about restoration of relationships between ourselves and God. Burrill's thesis is that church is where two or three are gathered, and if we aren't gathering in "small, relational groups" we are not really doing church.

What I didn't like about this book: Burrill has a tendency to overstate his case; the title of the book is a case in point. Revolutionized Church a relational manifesto that, while I agree with the concepts, is written in such a way that makes you wonder if it's too good to be true. I would have preferred to see him acknowledge more of the difficulties that reality brings to his theories.

I would say Revolutionized Church is a must read for Adventist ministers,
because of Burrill's exploration for the relational church of early Adventism alone. Ministers and members of other denominations will find this book enlightening as well, but may wish to explore these ideas from the plethora of books available in local Christian book store (who Burrill quotes extensively). Adventists with a passion for small groups will also especially benefit from this book.

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