MARK DEVER AND THE FOLKS at 9Marks ministries have consistently served the church with excellent materials on the church. One of their newest contributions, The Compelling Community, where God's Power makes a Church attractive, might be one of their best.
The book opens by observing that different communities are distinguished by what you build them with. What holds the community together? Does the it have a "natural" explanation, or can it only be explained "supernaturally?" For example, Seahawks fans gather on Sunday morning and experience community around a shared passion for football. The atmosphere is electric and the camaraderie intense. Some churches build community around a shared outreach to the poor or political engagement. But these communities have a "natural" explanation.
However, the "compelling community" that this book describes is different. It is built around the gospel. It can only be explained by the presence of something supernatural. People are doing things they would never naturally do. A gospel community will be "deep" in its commitments and socially "broad." By "broad" Dever means socially diverse. Many in this community have nothing in common but the gospel, but that is enough. Old mix with the young, rich with poor, and black with whites.
The rest of the book provides tips for fostering and protecting a"compelling" community. I was greatly encouraged by this book and reccomend it enthusiastically. Here are some quotes...
“If you attract people by appealing to them as consumers, you’ll most likely retain them as consumers" (Pg. 54).
“God’s plan for reaching the lost is for local churches to burn brighter and hotter. You must believe that in the long run, the exclusivity that fuels a blazing hot community of believers can do far more gospel work than watering down breadth and depth of commitment in order to feel inclusive" (Pg. 127).
“If the community of the local church is confirmation of the gospel message, we are fools to evangelize in isolation from it. Doing evangelism on my own is like digging a pit using a toy shovel, then leaning on a backhoe to rest" (Pg.188).