Thursday, May 12, 2011
Book Review of A New Kind of Big by Chip Sweeney
A NEW KIND OF BIG
By Chip Sweeney
Reviewed by Clint Walker
A New Kind of Big is a book about the journey of one rather innovative church, and how their philosophy and model of ministry could be a blueprint for other churches that want to increase their impact in their community and world. Perimeter church is located in the Atlanta area, and the church realized that they needed to have a more tangible impact on their community. Through a process of discernment, they came to the conclusion that needed to partner and network with people and organizations that could best serve their community and world. A New Kind of Big does an excellent job of telling the Perimeter story, and sharing enough of the organizing principles of how they built their community outreach ministry that others could follow their example.
Chip Sweeney is the author of A New Kind of Big. He is a person that is passionate about being the hands and feet of Jesus outside of the four walls of the church. And after years of mission-driven youth ministry, he became the director of Perimeter Church’s Community Transformation Ministry. Instead of seeking to start hundreds of small outreach ministries, the church discerned it was best to join God in what he was already doing around them. So as the church sought to have an impact in specific neighborhoods and communities, they sought to partner with people who were already equipped to do the ministry. In some cases, this meant being more intentional in leveraging relationships they already had. In other cases, this meant forging new relationships with leaders where they were seeking to have an impact. The impact on the church and the community through the Community Transformation Ministry has been nothing short of amazing.
The book has much to commend. It advocates for networking and partnership in a church’s ministry and community outreach. In an age where so many churches are out to build a bigger and better church than the congregation across town, this attitude is refreshing to hear. It gives a model for a church to transition from an “attractional’ model to a “missional” model. It gets the church focused on building the kingdom of God where the spirit is moving. It offers a decentralized model of community outreach instead of the pyramid scheme of power and control that most churches use.
Yet, I find some things about the book unrealistic. A New Kind of Big implies in the subtitle and throughout the book that they are offering a model for all churches to have an impact regardless of size. While I believe that networking and partnerships are important for churches regardless of size, I don’t believe it would be easy for many small churches to replicate what this book advises in a way that looks similar to Perimeter.
All in all, this was an exciting book. I hope many people read it, and dream about what God could do through their churches if they didn’t have to have their ministry centered around their building and programs, and did not care who got the credit for their church’s ministry and impact.