Book Review: Total Church

Total Church is a provocative book and there’s much to commend it. There is much in common with the values of Newfrontiers the church family I belong to.

This is a gospel centred book from The Crowded House church in Sheffield. They believe in extending the kingdom through church planting. They believe in caring for the poor and including them into the gospel community and in multi generational churches. They believe in the sufficiency of the gospel to bring people to maturity.

Interestingly they believe in reshaping the life of church around homes and building community rather than another building project. And as a church group that has come out of the conservative evangelical mould there is no place for the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit or signs and wonders so there are a few differences. But their central thesis that teaching, discipleship, pastoral care, evangelism and involvement in society is best done by a local church that understands community is spot on. We don’t just share knowledge we share our lives, we share ourselves. This is well worth reading to reshape church away from meetings and programme towards community and mission.


I was wondering after reading Total Church did you change the shape of your church? Have you read any Hirsch or Frost on missional church and if so how did you find them? I founch Total Church very challenging and it has helped shape the way we are going about planting into Plymouth.


Hi Jason, easy one first – I haven’t read Hirsch or Frost, should I?
We haven’t changed the way we shape the church but it is influencing our thinking. So we’re relaunching our life-groups (mid week groups) and just last night were discussing with the leaders what biblical hospitality looked like, how to share lives and open homes. We are trying to encourage a deeper sense of community and friendship but it’s hard to structure that from above so to speak. There’s much that we’re already in line with but we do want to further the belief that the best place to form discipleship is in homes, in the stuff of life and not separate from it. I’d be interested to hear how you’re shaping things in Plymouth…

Read Alan Hirsch the Forgotten Ways, its very challenging, I have a friend on his teaching team. Frost (exiles) is a bit too much of a polemic for my liking. Have you read Murray Post Christendom or Newbigin’s Foolishness to the Greeks?

Plymouth (EP is very much an embryonic version of Steve Timmis’ church The Crowded House in Sheffield. It is just us Reid’s at the moment, there’s a self indulgent narrative on the blog ( if you would like to see what we are up.
It’s funny, I had dinner with Steve Timmis when he showed your review of Total Church on your blog as I am ex-New Frontiers.

I will pray that your efforts are prospered by the Holy Spirit and you reap missional fruit.

Enjoy Grace

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