I am looking forward to reviewing two books in the next few weeks. The first book arrived recently: The Rabbit and the Elephant: Why Small is the New Big for Today’s Church by Tony & Felicity Dale and George Barna. This is the official description of the book:
If you put two elephants in a room together and close the door, in 22 months you may get one baby elephant. But two rabbits together for the same amount of time will result in thousands of baby rabbits! In The Rabbit and the Elephant, “micro church” planters Tony and Felicity Dale use the “rabbit” illustration to show the pace at which the Christian faith can (and should) be growing – through evangelism that is explosive and transformational. The Rabbit and the Elephant contains the keys to 21st century evangelism – taking the gospel to where the pain and the people are.
While I’m not fond of phrases like “the keys to 21st century evangelism” (I wonder if the authors or the publishers added that phrase), I’m excited to read this book. Why? Because the simple church movement stresses community. And, community is very important to me, because I think community is important to God. Since Tony and Felicity Dale are active within simple churches, I expect community to be important in this book.
Also, I am very interested in how close communities can multiply – taking the gospel to the surrounding areas and the world – without fracturing the community. Perhaps this is impossible – some modern church growth gurus suggest that you can’t have both. But, I think we see both in Scripture, and I’m hoping that the Dales flesh out the intersection of community and multiplication. I don’t know if they deal with these issues in this book, but I’m hopeful.
Guy at “The M Blog” has been very helpful to me in this area. The churches that he describes demonstrate both the strong bonds of Spirit-bred and -led community, as well as the desire and action of taking the gospel outside their community. (For example, see his posts “How 29 believers became 110 believers starting 5 new house churches–and all in less than a year” and “When can we be a church?” among many, many others.)
I think that the believers that I know have started developing the kind of community that I see in Scripture. Sure, we often fail, but in many ways I’m beginning to see the kind of love and concern for one another that we see among believers in Scripture. This is very exciting, and I’m glad to be living among this group of Jesus followers.
However, I don’t think we demonstrate the desire to take the gospel to our neighbors that we see in Scripture. I would like to see this desire develop in my own life as well, and I’ve been praying towards that end.
For these reasons, I’m interested in reading what the Dales have written. I’m looking forward to reading about their suggestions and trying to understand how God has worked among other believers. Hopefully, I’ll be able to write a review of this book in the next week or so.
In the meantime, do you have experience with a group of believers that exhibits both community and a desire to see the gospel and the church multiplied?