What is the Church and Why Does It Exist?
by David E. Fitch
Reviewed by Clint Walker
David E. Fitch has written a new book that is being published this spring. It is from Herald Press, and is part of their "The Jesus Way" series of small books that pack a big punch. Fitch's contribution to this series is fitting, as he argues for a missional ecclesiology, and gives some helpful hints in how to put this way of doing church into action.
What is the Church and Why Does it Exist is a book centered around three questions: What is Church? Why Church? and How do we do Church?. The book has a partner video curriculum by the same name with the new streaming platform SeminaryNow as well. For those familiar with Fitch's other writings, Fitch borrows heavily from some of the content in his book Faithful Presence in communicating his vision for how churches should structure and function, but each work stands apart from the other with a slightly different focus.
Fitch challenges his collegues and student to be pithy in their communication, and works on that himself. However, anyone who has went to David Fitch's lectures or had a conversation with him knows that he himself leans less toward the earthy pithiness of Ernest Hemingway in his communication, and more toward the wordy thoughtfulness of Nathaniel Hawthorne.
For this reason, this book is an accomplishment for Dr. Fitch. He packs a lot of his conceptual work he has done over the last twenty years or so about what the missional church is all about in a relatively brief, thoughtful, easy to understand book that you can share with people in your small group or congregation. There are discussion questions in the back of the book that allow conversation to begin.
I have worked through the material in this book with a small group in my congregation. They interacted well with it. At times they thought what David Fitch shared was common sense, and at other times they were challenged by his perspective, which is exactly what I wanted. For our people, we were affirmed in our commitment to congregational life, and also challenged to practice our faith together, in our homes, and in our communities.
This will be a helpful resource for any church to look at as they consider how to connect with the continually changing, post-Christian world. It honors the wisdom of having a community called the church. Yet at the same time challenges us to move out of siloed churches and siloed living into a wholistic, authentic way of living for Jesus together as believers in the world for the love of humanity and the glory of God.