Book review: A Just Church by Chris Howson

Book coverI read a blog recently that simply stated ‘people don’t forget stories, they forget facts‘. It seems that in writing A Just Church, Chris Howson had this in mind.

A Just Church is an immensely readable story of the life of a small church community seeking to live out what they believe.

The book begins by outlining the theology on which the church operates, highlighting the Activist Christ in the Gospels and touching on the core elements of liberation theology. Following this brief introduction the reader is taken on a journey through campaigns, events and activities and the joys and frustrations of the people involved.

What is great about this book is that it enthuses rather than intimidates. I was expecting to feel a little inadequate reading about all the great things this small church has achieved in the last 5 years. This community has done great things but often through small gestures – much like Jesus describing how the Kingdom of God is – the smallest mustard seed growing into something much bigger.

Chris also provides at the end of each chapter some practical ideas for trying something similar yourself using an easy to remember model of EARS – Education, Action, Reflection and Sustaining.

Barbara Glasson in her afterword describes this book as joyful – it really is that, I found myself grinning as I read it on the train! It is also a clarion call to the church to recognise that a core part of its role is to stand up for the poor and challenge injustice wherever we find it.

At the launch of this book at the Waterstones store in Bradford, the manager said two things about the book which really ring true. Firstly, that this is an important book for Bradford – it portrays a positive image of what the people of Bradford can do when they work together. Secondly, the manager said that Chris was the first ‘proper Christian’ he had ever met. You may not agree with all of Chris’ politics or approaches but you can’t deny that he is a man of integrity, truly seeking to ‘practice what he preaches’.

This is a book to enthuse and challenge, I recommend it to you!

Now, I just need to work out what I am going to do in response to the challenges Chris lays out…

Listen to Chris read a little from the book here:

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