The good folks at Crossway Books are wonderful to send me books from time to time to read and review. As something of a “bookophile” getting free books makes me about as happey as a guy can be! This time they sent me Mark Driscoll’s new book, Vintage Church (VC). As someone who is admittedly a fan of much of Driscoll’s ministry I have been looking forward to reading this new missive and I was not dissapointed.
VC is essentially an ecclesiological handbook and the beauty of this particular book is that it is particularly helpful for the uneducated layperson who might be interested in strengthening their personal theology of the church. The book is laid out in a series of 12 chapters that deal with topics such as “Why is Preaching Important?”, “What is Church Discipline?”, “How is Love Expressed in a Church” and What is a Missional Church?”. These chapters, as well as the rest, really seem to speak powerfully to a biblical understanding of the church. At the conclusion of each chapter Driscoll’s partner, Dr. Gerry Breshears (Professor of Theology at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon) provides a series of questions and answers that might be asked in response to the points that Driscoll raises in each chapter.
One of this book’s greatest strengths is the accesibility it offers for the average layperson who might pick it up. While it is tremendously theological and thoroughly biblical, the authors have written it while avoiding much of the colorful theological language often used in the academic environment which often finds its way into books on topics like theology, or in this case, ecclesiology.
If there is a negative that I would mention it would simply be that it is not comprehensive enough. While a number of specific topics are dealt with, I for one would have enjoyed more detail but it’s probably nit-picky to try and argue that as a dissapointment.
While there are a number of chapters that I found helpful and compelling, and have recommended the book to multiple people already as a tremendous resource, there are three chapters that I specifically found most helpful. Chapter 3, “Who is Supposed to Lead a Church?” is one of the best descriptions I’ve read concerning the characteristics of biblical leadership. That chapter alone, in my opinion, is worth the price of the book. Chapter 9, “What is a Missional Church?” and chapter 10 “What is a Multi-campus Church?” are both incredibly helpful as I am personally thinking through the application of biblical theology in the life of my church. I’ll be honest enough to admit that I’ve asked some hard questions about the biblical support for multi-campus ministry and even as I read through chapter 10 I found myself challenged and encouraged in ways I had not been previously.
All things considered I would highly recommend this book to you. It has been fun to me, as I’ve watched Driscoll’s ministry, to see his growth and maturity as a pastor, theologian and finally as a writer. This book is another beautiful example of how God continues to mature and use Driscoll. I personally think this book may be Driscoll’s most significant literary contributions to date. I give it 3 out of 4 stars!