November 18, 2009
A recent book by Jim Belcher carries the title, Deep Church (Downers Grove: IVP, 2009). It is a much needed book that tries to speak to those of us who find ourselves uncomfortable with the traditional church and with the "emerging" church. He offers a "third way."
Belcher feels he is an insider and an outsider at the same time. His associations and conversations make him an insider in the emerging discussion, but many of his experiences have been in traditional settings. He proposes a way forward that accounts for our post-modern culture and remains true to the heritage and gospel.
The body of the book addresses seven topics. They are deep truth, evangelism, gospel, worship, preaching, ecclesiology, and culture. In each chapter he describes the area and the issues involved, presents various emerging viewpoints on the subject, and then discusses the traditional "push back." With the topic examined from each side, he then describes how his church, Redeemer Presbyterian Church of Newport Beach, CA, is in process to find a third way with the issue. He is careful to tell us they are in process, a point I appreciate. Belcher continues to think and explore creative alternatives that embrace heritage while seeking relevance in our present day.
In the process of writing the book, Belcher often comes to a place where personal interaction would help to clarify an area with an author or emerging church and he goes to the person or church and does his own questioning. It allows the points to come alive, sometimes even adjusting his own thinking.
I think this is a book that people need to read. It strikes a balance that exudes a scent of truth. He has widely read and interacted with all sides (and people tend to take sides). His suggestions are a way forward that should be celebrated.