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The Invisible Church - Steve Aisthorpe

Posted by admin at 5:04 PM on Jan 24, 2018

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This excellent book is addressed to people who are concerned for the health of the church, those who are discouraged by the decline of many congregations and Christians who are not church goers. This third group includes both those who have left churches and those who have never joined. They are seldom heard and the book gives them a voice.

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We are able to hear why they choose not to engage with churches, yet, in many cases, “long to be part of a vital, revolutionary, compassionate movement of Jesus followers such as existed pre-Christendom.” Steve’s Aisthorpe’s analysis is perceptive. In many cases people trace their dissociation from church to the fact that it simply did not address the issues and concerns raised by their day to day experiences. This leads the author to some general and challenging observations. “The organisational minutiae of congregational life all too easily become the focus of a disproportionate amount of time, attention and energy.” “How can a faith, which is committed to transformation in individual lives and the world, create institutions that are so impervious to change?”

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If there is one thing missing from the book, it is an acknowledgement of the role of chaplains in engaging with the invisible church. Our workplace chaplains, indeed chaplains of all disciplines, draw alongside people of faith who express their frustration with the church as they have encountered it. Many left churches because they simply did not offer something which fulfilled their spiritual needs, or did not answer the questions which arose from their daily lives. Church attendance became a chore which did not contribute to their spiritual growth.

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Chaplains often find themselves bringing a challenge to the church about its narrow preoccupations, and this book will provide ample well reasoned material to back up their anecdotal evidence gained through their encounters in their chaplaincies.

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There is a strong emphasis on the kingdom of God in this book, and rightly so. As Aisthorpe says, “It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of the kingdom in the teachings of Jesus.” Chaplaincy ministry seeks to bring the values of God’s Kingdom to everyday life, the places where the invisible church is to be found, encouraged, valued and affirmed.

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Each chapter includes questions and activities for reflection. Properly used they will lead to action and to change. If they do, this book will have made a very positive contribution to the life and growth of God’s Kingdom, to the church, visible and invisible.