Love Without Walls by Laurie Beshore is the latest in the Leadership Network Innovation Series from Zondervan. The subtitle of this book is ‘Learning to be a church in the world for the world’. The whole concept of being in the world and out of the world at the same time has always been of real interest to me. In areas such as politics and social justice this is of key importance – what is the hope that the gospel brings not just the new creation but for the world today.
Laurie writes in a very easy manner, reflecting on the story of how Mariners Church, a mega church in California, went around developing a presence in their community. This isn’t a theoretical book relying on lots of flow charts and diagrams, instead she simply tells the story, warts and all of the last 25 years of ministry. It is clear that even now, after 25 years experience they still don’t have all the answers, or always get it right, but their heart and passion to see communities transformed is infectious.
One of the most interesting points early on was the concept that people need safe opportunities to be exposed to the ministry and so you may have to run big events (such as Christmas parties) that otherwise you might not choose to run if it weren’t for the opportunity they provide for new people to sample how they could be a part of the team.
Towards the end there were some very interesting thoughts and stories on what does true partnership look like; reflecting on the danger of looking like we have all the answers to solve people’s problems – relationships are what really matter, and so therefore what does it mean to look to learn from those we minister to.
As with any book you have to translate the story and ideas into your context, but in this case it feels a little harder than other books from the Leadership Network Innovation Series. The model seems to work very well within a mega church context, but I’m unsure as to how easily it would work within the 100-300 member churches that make up so much of the UK.
Regardless of that criticism I’d still highly recommend this book as a challenging and inspiring read on how churches can get involved in loving their community.
Here’s a short video interview with Laurie Beshore: