Posted: 08/06/2009 at 2:20pm
A Review of Graham Cooke and Gary Goodell’s Permission Granted to Do Church Differently
by Steve Eastman
Christians are beginning to see that traditional methods of doing church are losing effectiveness. Many traditional methods do not have historical basis in the first century but started creeping in several generations later. Some of the most revered traditions did not show up until the last couple of hundred years. Even if you argue they were invented to be more appealing to their culture, today’s Western culture is not responding in positive, lasting ways. Unbelievers are staying away and so are an increasing number of believers.
Graham Cooke and Gary Goodell come from somewhat different backgrounds. Cooke has served as consultant to existing congregations seeking God’s new direction. Goodell works with a network of churches that principally meet in homes, but sometimes in larger gatherings for corporate worship and edification. They both like to use the term “Third Day.”
As Goodell says, “The first day, then, is how we used to do church. The second day is when we let those old ways die. The third day is when we begin to experiment with new ways to meet, new ways to make more room for His presence, and new ways that we see our mission and purpose as a Church, both locally and regionally.”
Cooke sees the second day as a crisis that will draw us closer to God if we respond appropriately.
“He is holding out the very process of inward change and development. In crisis we put our lives firmly into His care and we obey Him implicitly! Crisis, transition, and process open a door on a personal and corporate level for the people of God to come to know Him, experience Him, and be changed by Him.”
Permission Granted to Do Church Differently makes an important point that worship should be God-consumed, not designed for people in the pew. It takes time. Spontaneous songs, prayers and prophetic words pop up, calling onlookers to become participants.
The book breaks several paradigms. Some believe church needs to be exclusively big meetings. Others say it needs to be exclusively small meetings. Still others recommend cell groups. The book closes by recommending a variety of meeting sizes. House churches are churches in their own right, but they can come together for monthly mid-size gatherings and gather even less frequently for large conference style meetings. A permanent building can be counterproductive. Why not rent a school auditorium or meet at a park or beach?
Perhaps the greatest paradigm breaking suggestion is the redeployment of pastors. They become trainers and enablers, encouraging others to share their insights from God. The trained become the next spiritual generation of trainers. On the rare occasions when pastors do preach, the talks can be interactive.
Permission Granted to Do Church Differently may not go far enough for some, but goes too far for others, a good indication its emphases may be mostly right.
Visit the book's webpage.
Edited by Steve Eastman on 08/07/2009 at 4:29am