encouraging for churches

Stephen Viars writes from over 30 years experience as pastor and biblical counselor. His new book is easy enough to read but longer and harder to implement. His purpose is to “help you rethink how you position yourself in your community. I hope you have a better understanding of what the Word of God says about relating to your neighbors so you will be challenged to think creatively about serving your community. I hope you have a toolbox filled with proven, practical ideas, many of which you can implement right away.” He provides a Biblical foundation for loving your community, eight possible avenues, moving from smaller to larger efforts, and sections on common objections and a practical plan to start loving your community. Chapters are concluded with questions for personal and group reflection and study. He offers personal examples and experiences from family and churches who have put these ideas into place. One positive aspect is that he acknowledges diverse people and situations and there is no “cookie cutter” approach. What worked in his larger facilities, more urban context, may not work in yours. However, it is important to note that some of the options he presents are more program driven and greater resources are needed. Thankfully, other options can be implemented by individuals or small groups within the body and don’t need as much people or financial capital. He emphasizes the need for individual churches and individuals within those churches to determine needs in their individual communities; one size does not fit all. Loving your community in community based outreach ministry can be messy and hard. Stephen Viars new book is encouraging for churches who are beginning or continuing on this path. I received a copy of this book from the publisher at no cost and was not required to write a positive review.