Thoughts on Books

Book Review – A Church Called Tov

A Church Called Tov – Forming a Goodness Culture That Resists Abuses of Power and Promotes Healing by Scott McKnight and Laura Barringer

Read from: 15 – 19 January 2023

Recommended by: Sheila Wray Gregoire on the Bare Marriage Podcast

“Tragically, in recent years, Christians have gotten used to revelations of abuses of many kinds in our most respected churches.

We need a better way. The sad truth is that churches of all shapes and sizes are susceptible to abuses of power, sexual abuse, and spiritual abuse. Abuses occur most frequently when Christians neglect to create a culture that resists abuse and promotes healing, safety, and spiritual growth.

How do we keep these devastating events from repeating themselves? We need a map to get us from where we are today to where we ought to be as the body of Christ. That map is in a mysterious and beautiful little Hebrew word in Scripture that we translate “good,” the word tov.

Description taken from Church Called Tov website

Scott McKnight and Laura Barringer were attendees at Willowcreek when Bill Hybels’s abuse was uncovered. At first reacting with a “it cannot be true” attitude, and then realising that the women who were being named as witnesses were people they knew to be truthful.

Realising that many churches have unfortunately become places of abuse; focusing on celebrity pastor culture, and more concerned with running churches as businesses than as a place to nurture the body of Christ; they have chosen to write this book as a response.

Personal Thoughts

McKnight and Barringer have written a book that helps church leaders and church attendees alike, to realise what makes a good church.

Not good in terms of “that was a good sermon” or “we have a good preacher” but good in terms of God looking down and calling our culture “good” (tov).

While much of the book refers to the Willowcreek situation, the authors guide the reader towards the realisation of how quickly a leader can fall when he (or she) has a focus on their status as a pastor/leader rather than as a pastor/shepherd.

Of course, the difficulty is that many people who are toxic will never pick up this book to begin with. However, I believe there is hope for those who pick up this book to evaluate their own church and see whether it is “tov” or not.

The authors explain that “tov” leaders are those who are willing to repent, who have more care for their congregation than for their status, who have people in place that are willing and able to point out their shortcomings, and who focus on what the Bible actually says rather than what has often been conveniently accepted.

Wonderful, thought-provoking book, I highly recommend.

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