Todd Hunter has an interesting story.  Having grown up in the Methodist Church he spent several years in the Vineyard movement, and now finds himself serving as an Anglican Bishop.  Hunter has one of the most eclectic church backgrounds I have seen.  It was this broad experience coupled with several positive referrals that led me to Todd’s book, Giving Church Another Chance: Finding New Meaning in Spiritual PracticesHaving been in a variety of ecclesial settings myself and still wrestling through those different models and forms I found immediate resonance with Todd’s story.  His book is truly born out of this vast experience, and is birthed out of thoughtful and honest reflection on his life in the church.

Todd takes a different approach than many of the other voices in the evangelical world trying to answer the current frustration and ambivalence with all things church in the evangelical world.  Fundamentally Todd is arguing for the "repracticing" of the spiritual practices of the church for the sake of living the Christian life well.  He seeks to cast a vision of the weekly gathering of the church for corporate worship as a "launching pad" for living the Christian life in the every day.

"We need a fresh vision of spiritual formation, one that puts the church and traditional Christian observances in their proper place.  I want to create a new vision and stimulate our imagination about Christian practices.  I want to show that God created the church and its associated practices not as an end but the means to an end.  As we move along, I will explain the role the spiritual practices of church have in the kingdom and how they are empowered by the Holy Spirit.  I will demonstrate their place in the wider purposes of God, in culture and in the formation of the followers of Jesus." (Giving Church Another Chance, 31)

Thus, Hunter proceeds to explore the traditional practices of the church with this goal in mind.  Each chapter is an attempt to frame what it would look like to repractice Scripture reading, doxology, listening to a sermon, etc.  As Hunter states, "the goal of repracticing Christianity is to move our spiritual experience from a mere system of beliefs and unsatisfying church routines to a newly conceived way of life and empowered living rooted in the spiritual practices of the church." (Giving Church Another Chance, 36)

There are few books that I believe cast a vision for church  that leads to living the Christian life well in the way that Hunter does.  By grounding his argument for the value of church in the practices of the church I believe he moves from what is often a missional answer for why the church still matters to a more formational answer, which I believe to be a helpful addition to the conversation.  In the end, there are few books I would find helpful in giving to someone who has decided an active life in the church is not important to their faith, but this would be one.  If we are honest there is a growing number of evangelicals who would fit this bill, and I believe Hunter does an excellent job of speaking to them and providing a vision of church that will perhaps re-inspire.     


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