Mark Sayers
Reappearing Church: The Hope for Renewal in the Rise of Our Post-Christian Culture 
Moody Publishers, Chicago, 2019
ISBN-13: 978-0802419132

Reappearing Church cover

 

"An essential read for any who are not satisfied with a luke-warm faith but who want to engage in a greater way, Reappearing Church is a useful tool for those genuinely interested in seeking a new depth in their relationship with God."

A how-to guide towards personal and communal renewal, Reappearing Church is a follow-up of sorts to Mark Sayer's book, Disappearing Church. Where that book dealt with the decline of the church in Western nations (and particularly the issue of developing resilience among believers as they come to a greater understanding of who they are and, indeed, what the Gospel is really about), this book is all about - amid dissatifaction with the way the world and the church are going - making a deliberate effort to drink from the fresh wellspring of life that can be found in Christ.

It starts with the idea of gathering what Sayers - a cultural commentator, author and senior leader at Red Church in the Australian city of Melbourne - calls a "renewal cell" - an historically successful way of working towards renewal - and then walks that group step-by-step through a process aimed at sparking new life, not just among the particular group, but the church around them and the community in which they're based.

Sayers defines renewal in two basic ways: firstly, as the "refreshment, release and advancement that individuals, group, churches and culture experience when the are realigned with God's presence" and, secondly, as the "resumption of our God-given purpose to partner with God fully, participating in His plan to flood the world with His presence".

Starting with grappling with the idea of "holy discontent" - defined as a "deep satisfcation with the low state of our faith, our church, and the culture", the book then moves through a range of steps which lay the ground in preparation for renewal. These include the key step of moving away from the culture of consumerism and instead "contending" by stepping into the "hard places" with God as well as establishing new patterns of behaviour that once more align us with how God views the world.

The idea is to create a "remnant" of "deeply devoted and faithful" Christians who model the life of Jesus. As Sayers notes: "The remnent serves the broader church and culture by living sacrifically the faithful and prophetic life."

Reappearing Church is a timely book amid talk of declines in mainline church numbers and the challenges and temptations of secularism which face all those who follow Christ in today's post-Christian culture"

Certainly best read over an extended period to allow time for an in-depth investigation of each chapter, it comes with all the tools you'll need to properly engage. These include an appendix containing a framework for small groups to use in grappling with the process while each chapter is broken into easily digestible sections with key "renewal principles" highlighted throughout.

An essential read for any who are not satisfied with a luke-warm faith but who want to engage in a greater way (and see that engagement ripple out in their community), Reappearing Church is a useful tool for those genuinely interested in seeking to put new life into their relationship with God.