Ever wonder why people fall asleep in church? It happens. We’ve all seen it. We shuffle into rows of seats that grow more comfortable with every new fundraising campaign. We slouch down and settle in for an hour or so, as singers and storytellers and preachers and teachers take their turns filling our ears. And almost without fail, at least one of us nods off while listening to the greatest story ever told. The church was not meant to be like this. The church was meant to be on its feet, in the world, making all things new.
The church was meant to be sent. Kim Hammond and Darren Cronshaw want to help us—all of us—rediscover our sentness. Dive into Sentness, and explore the six postures of a church that’s keeping pace with God’s work in the world. Rediscover the gospel that first quickened your pulse and got you up on your feet, ready to go wherever Jesus called you. Get Sentness, and prepare to get sent.
Sentness: Six Postures of Missional Christians. By Kim Hammond and Darren Cronshaw. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2014. 208 pages. ISBN 978-0-8308-4418-0. $16.00.
“Sentness is clear, simple, practical and powerful in addressing what it means for every believer to engage missionally right where they are. I highly recommend it.” – Bob Roberts, author of Bold as Love
“A perfect place to start or start over if you want the life of Jesus to show up in your life.” – Hugh Halter, author of The Tangible Kingdom
“A practical, thoughtful and accessible book for those of us who suspect that a better Christian faith, one immersed in this world, is possible.” – Ash and Anji Barker, founders of Urban Neighbors of Hope
“Full of stories and real-life examples of people who live on mission, Sentness encourages us to live our lives out loud while in fellowship with others and on mission together.” – Neil Cole, author of Organic Church
“Kim Hammond and Darren Cronshaw’s stories will challenge and inspire your imagination to think outside the ministry box and share the gospel across cultural and social lines.” – Ed Stetzer, president of Lifeway Research
“If the church will embrace the six postures in Sentness, the mission of Jesus will be accomplished!” – Dave Ferguson, coauthor of Exponential
In Sentness, Hammond and Cronshaw attempt to lay out six postures that Christians should adopt in order to be a presence of Christ in this world. They begin by showing the need for a shift in the way we perceive church (ch. 1). That is, we must move beyond consumerism; we must move beyond church-shopping and the idea that our Christian duty is fully performed on a Sunday morning. This is certainly not ground-breaking new information, but it does lay the foundation for the rest of the book—the six postures are how we can move beyond the consumer mentality.
Now for the six postures (chs. 2-7): sent people, submerged ministry, shalom spirituality, safe places, shared life, and standing in the gap. These are the pieces to the missional puzzle, as laid out by Hammond and Cronshaw. 1) We should be a sent people. We ought to live like missionaries in the midst of our lives, wherever we are. I enjoyed their sense of humor, particularly what they said in their introduction: “We wanted to call this book Practicing the Missionary Position and Loving It. Some thought it too rude or crude, but for us it reflects a lost truth: the basic position the church needs to assume in the world is that of a missionary” (p. 25). 2) We should be submerged in ministry where we are, actively engaging with our neighbors and our community. 3) We should practice shalom spirituality. That is, an approach to spirituality that “encourages us to engage our ‘worldly’ responsibilities with attentiveness to God’s purposes for the world” (p. 90)—a seven-day-a-week spirituality. 4) We should provide safe places for others to come to and seek Jesus, ultimately encouraging a movement toward Christlikeness. 5) We should share life with others—neighbors and fellow believers—just as Christ shared life with the disciples. “A handshake between two strangers during a greeting time in a service is not in itself powerful” (p. 140). Share the good; share the bad. Carry others in their brokenness, and allow others to carry you when you are broken. 6) Finally, we should stand in the gap for others. That is, we should intercede on other’s behalves, we should help others discern their abilities, and we should help others achieve their dreams for the kingdom, all while others are ideally doing the same for us.
Throughout the book, Hammond and Cronshaw share numerous stories and examples of these postures done well, and sometimes, not so well. When it comes down to it, sentness is not a difficult concept to actualize. “Part of the beauty of sentness is you don’t have to plan a whole lot of modern infrastructure before you get started, or even after you get started. You don’t have to worry about the chaos of change or feel like you have to manage and control it. You don’t have to stress about organizing everyone, as if it depends on you as a CEO-style leader telling everyone what to do. You can embrace the shift to a new paradigm and flow with the rhythms of life” (p. 185).
There are a lot of “missional” books on the market these days. Because this book does not present any new and ground-breaking missional thinking, it can be seen as just another missional book that the world could have done without. However, they arrange already developed missional concepts in a beneficial way, and their stories and examples give the reader perspectives from the authors—perspectives that the reader otherwise may not have attained.
if you are seeking a more fulfilling Christian life in the midst of your life as is, and you are tired of the stereotypical church grind—Sunday morning and, maybe, Sunday night and/or Wednesday night—then this book is for you.
So, if you are seeking a technical read, full of trailblazing missional ideas, you will get bored as you work through this book. However, if you are seeking a more fulfilling Christian life in the midst of your life as is, and you are tired of the stereotypical church grind—Sunday morning and, maybe, Sunday night and/or Wednesday night—then this book is for you. It is down-to-earth, easy to read, and simply presented. This book will challenge your view of church and how we live as the church in our society, while encouraging you to embrace your sentness.
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