Everywhere You Look: Discovering the Church Right Where You Are by Tim Soerens
The best book I have read on church and mission for a long time, writes Simon Jones
Everywhere You Look: Discovering the Church Right Where You Are
By Tim Soerens
Grand Rapids: IVP 2020
Reviewed by Simon Jones
If you’re longing to get back to normal after lockdown, then this book is not for you. If you think a lick of paint and a new carpet will stop the decline of your congregation, then this book is not for you. If, however, you think that we need a whole new way of thinking about how we envisage what and where church is, then this book is a breath of fresh air and a manifesto for change.
Indeed, I think this is the best book I have read on church and mission for a long time (and I’ve read quite a few!). And at 134 pages it does not take forever to make its simple but searching case. Soerens is a director of the Parish Collective, and co-author of The New Parish, the book that set us all thinking new thoughts a few years back.
Here Soerens sets out to answer the question, ‘How do we embody news that is so good it draws the attention and longing of our neighbours?’ We live at a moment when people everywhere are crying out for news of a better world - a world of economic, racial, social justice, where we can create thriving local economies, great local social infrastructure, good local jobs. These are not questions that you usually find being addressed, let alone answered in a book on the church.
But this is Soerens’ agenda. He is not interested in the colour of your sanctuary or the talent of your worship band. He wants to know whether you have been captivated by the Kingdom of God and the possibility that you might see it coming to life in your neighbourhood. Because it is when that happens that you begin to see the church. It might not look like anything you’ve seen before or anything you were expecting to see, but it has the fragrance of Jesus and the energy of the Spirit; and people are coming to life in all sorts of unexpected ways because of it.
So, this is a book that charts a new adventure for Jesus followers, one that is not about building the church in any traditional sense of that word, but is about building the kind of communities Jesus envisaged his followers would be at the heart of. Is that exciting or what? This is a book to read with your neighbours and see what emerges as you allow God to do his thing in your midst. It is on all my college reading lists.
Simon Jones, vice principal of Spurgeon’s College