Alan Roxburgh has been a well-known and respected author, missiologist, pastor and friend to many church and denominational leaders for a generation. He has a wide international perspective and is across so much cultural and intellectual research, which has been followed and respected, across the West. Importantly however, there is another dimension that Alan alerts us to – the leading of the Spirit. While so many writers deconstruct, critique and tinker with technical details (that often bring secular consequences) Alan Roxburgh goes to the central issue of what is God up to in our changing world?
Joining God, Remaking Church, Changing the World is a timely case in point. We all see that churches are getting older, smaller and less meaningful to most people in Western nations and feel it as our children and grandchildren find excuses to slip away. Too often, it is how we can fix these areas that the literature gets bogged down in (do church better, more simply, make disciples better, etc.). Many books and conferences are essentially asking, how can we make an old thing look young and work better when it isn’t?
Alan asks a far more profound set of questions, that are centered around the ongoing mystery, of what is God up to in the midst of turbulent, rapid and discontinuous change. He calls it an unraveling. The unraveling of something we have spent so much time and energy on that needs pulling apart so that God can break into our world and neighborhoods again.
For example my wife and I enjoy the produce of our vegetable garden. Nothing tastes better than homegrown food. Yet we know that there are seasons to plant, tend, harvest and to dig it all up and start again with new seeds for a new season. We do not grow the garden – we just do the right things, with the right ingredients by attending to the situation in the right season. We attend and respond to what is before us rather than forcing something upon the garden that produces little fruit (of vegetables).
This is the task for the people of God in these times. It feels hard because we seem to have lost these skills but Alan reminds us that God is always guiding his people back to first things. This book helps awaken us to the practices and skills God is calling us to in our communities. I greatly appreciate and recommend the timeliness of Joining God, Remaking Church, Changing the World and the ongoing, insightful wisdom of Alan Roxburgh.
March 5, 2016
Principal Stirling Theological College, University of Divinity