Here, John H. Armstrong writes about the message of his book entitled - Your Church is Too Small. In Christ Jesus' High Priestly Prayer, the call is for all of God's people to be one...so that others may believe. It is in Unity in Mission that John Armstrong writes about: missional-ecumenism...so that others may believe.
Well, after four years of thought and prayer the day is almost here. My original Zondervan editor and very good friend, Dr. Paul Engle, wrote an email to me this week about the book. Paul said the first copy was in his hands. This is what he wrote on February 25:
Hey John, guess what arrived a couple of minutes ago? The first initial couple of printer copies of your book! The caseside binding looks and feels great. It looks accessible and not intimidating. This has been a long journey, but hopefully a happy conclusion which marks the new beginning of this book’s journey into [many] hearts and minds. You should be receiving an initial copy or two within days. Hope you are pleased! Thanks for all your hard work and responsiveness along the way.
Some of you know that I have written or edited eleven previous books, since I began writing this way in 1993. Each book has had great moments and true joy. But nothing compares with Your Church Is Too Small. It has had more turns in the road than I could ever have imagined when I first said to my wife Anita, “I need to tell people what really happened to me back in the 1990s and then, if God is pleased, pray that the Holy Spirit lights a fire for the unity of Christ’s people.”
Right down to just a few months ago I was still praying for someone to assist me in making this book as widely known as possible. I understood the great potential of this book. I knew I could not handle what God would begin with this effort if I had to do this all by myself. At about two minutes before midnight, that is about six weeks ago, Dan Jones came along and said to me, “I will give you a year to help make this vision a viral tool.” Dan was my student in the Wheaton College Graduate School only a year ago. During the past year we established a growing friendship. Now we work as partners in this great effort to promote a vision of the church that we both believe and share very deeply.
Why do I speak this way? Because I believe this book, flaws and all, is an honest and humane attempt to express the very desire of the Savior’s heart in the high priestly prayer recorded in John 17. I have never believed in the mission of Christ more than I do now. And I have never been more convinced that his mission must be joined with this specific prayer if we are to see the Father’s love for the world in the coming century. I will not be around to see all that I dream about right now but I can sow seed and water that seed with prayer and love. I ask you who read the book and follow its mission in the months ahead to pray with me to help me pursue this vision. One way to do this is to order the book and read it. After you read it keep coming back to this site and tell others about what you are seeing God do. Give the book to friends. Tell others to read it in every way you can. This is how a fire could be lit for the glory of Christ.
The journey for me began decades ago, when I first began to ask about the church and its multitude of divisions. My journey continues with this new book in which I propose a specific understanding of the church that will allow us to begin talking and working for unity in whole new ways. I pray for a multitude of friends to join us in making Your Church Is Too Small a book that is not only talked about but a book that changes people and churches all over the world. “Is anything too wonderful for the Lord” (Genesis, 18:14, NRSV). -- John
It is a delight to be on this journey with you and especially to celebrate this new book and its release. It presents to all of us who love and support the Act3 ministry to have an open dialogue with the book and all it represents. What a rich and abundant vision you have given us to work with. I don't think we will have to worry about running out of strategic themes to talk about. In fact if we can stay as focused as you have managed to be throughout this book, we'll have quite a fire going before the year's out.
I will only say one thing about your book at this point: You have suceeded in setting before us a vision which in turn includes an individual response from every reader. You set this out very clearly from the beginning, in the introduction, and managed to carry it all the way through the book to the end. In your own words- "I am referring to our all too common penchant for placing limits on Christ's church--limits that equate the one church with our own narrow view's of Christ's body. When our church is too small, we adopt a desperately flawed image. The image shrivels our spirit and hinders Christ's mission...the 'small church' I refer to is a mind-set in believers that hinders the work of the Holy Spirit in mission and is contrary to the prayer of Jesus for our unity."