How can we release the whole Church as one Church across a city?
How can we share faith and do church together?
Strong challenge to churches to think outside their own box
A clarion call for unity
Written by a dynamic activist for those who believe we can do better. At a time of drawn-out national division over Brexit, with its concomitant political and economic turmoil, many might be wondering whether some semblance of unity of thought and purpose will ever return to our nation. Some might be looking to the Church for answers, only to find it too is frequently characterised by tribal thinking, with many churches locked into congregational models and brand building.
Are We Brave Enough? explains why thinking about congregations as ‘church’, being obsessed with making them bigger and drawing boundaries around who’s inside and outside our church expression are not helpful when building God’s kingdom. Author and activist Ian Mayer says, ‘Being consumed with our own group, denomination or network only serves to contain and constrain; it doesn’t help to grow and develop the kingdom of God across a city; in fact, it hinders and restricts growth.’
Ian, along with his wife Alyson, has been pioneering Christian community across his locality for more than twenty years. His book asks Christians to consider doing five things that could change the landscape of local church communities, and help Christians become more effective in transforming the world. Chief among those changes is to live out the fact that we are all one. Ian says, ‘Whatever Christian expression you lead or belong to or whatever gathering style you might prefer, what really matters is how much that expression relates to and connects with all the other expressions in your area.’ He calls Christians to focus on the bigger picture, be inclusive and think outside church traditions and structures which he believes are often ‘found wanting’. For true unity to work, he says, ‘The leaders of all the individual church groups need to passionately celebrate unity on a regular basis with all their teams and members; it’s no good being part of the bigger picture if you don’t connect with those you lead.’
The book tells Ian and Alyson’s personal story about the challenges of working with congregational and institutional church leaders, then goes on to champion the perseverance needed to see God’s kingdom come in a city and looks at how church groups can either support or hinder the process. ‘These are not the musings of a theorist but of a relentless activist as each page reflects the beat of the author’s heart,’ says leader and author Dr John Andrews.
‘I don’t think that the world is looking for theology, doctrine or even religion,’ says Ian. ‘I think that the world is looking for hope. I think that when the world looks upon the Church, it wants the Church to answer the questions it’s asking, not the questions the Church artificially creates; and most importantly, it wants to find hope in those answers. What are those questions? I think they are simply, what do you believe, why do you believe it, and what difference does it make? A Christian community that focuses everything it does and says around answering these three questions is a Church that the world will be drawn to, and desperate to be part of.’
What reviewers say:
‘At the Evangelical Alliance we are passionate to see the great John 17 prayer of Jesus outworked in the united mission of God’s people. Are We Brave Enough? is written out of Ian’s personal experience, his calling to Doncaster and the lessons learned within One Heart One Voice, a unity movement committed to transforming their city. There are parts of this book which will leave you feeling uncomfortable; indeed, there could be sections you disagree with, but let’s allow the book to challenge us to fresh steps of faith and obedience to the One we love and serve.’
Steve Clifford, general director of the Evangelical Alliance
‘I count Ian and Alyson as good friends and recognise them as a couple of gentle provokers. You will find this book is filled with a heart for unity, but also carries a fair amount of provocation to think beyond our own paradigms. To get the best from it I recommend we step back slightly and lay aside our defensive mechanisms. The provocation is for purpose, and that purpose lines up with the prayer of Jesus “that all of them may be one. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent Me” [see John 17].’
Stuart Bell, senior pastor, Alive Church, Lincoln, and leader of the Ground Level Network
‘When I first met Ian, I was struck by three things, namely his love for Jesus, his passion for the Church and his commitment to his city! This engaging book reflects all these key facets of Ian’s call and purpose. As you read you will discover that Ian is brave enough, but the question that must be answered is, are we?’
Dr John Andrews, leader, teacher, motivator, author
‘Ian and Alyson have served Doncaster over many years and the results are visible. I have been to several unity events organised by them over the last few years and it’s been fantastic to see the way they gather people together to serve the agenda of transformation in the town. The recent Movement Day in Doncaster attracted not only the Church but also senior civic leaders. There was a real sense of shared purpose. They are brave and have inspired others to follow.’
Debra Green OBE, executive director, Redeeming Our Communities
‘Ian and Alyson’s love of Doncaster is evident the first time you meet them. As part of the Church in Doncaster they have a huge desire to see the Church being and working as one, to affect each of the different aspects of the life of Doncaster. In this book, Ian sets out five points to help see this happen in Doncaster, but also in your place. This book needs to be read, prayed over and thought through. There is a challenge here to how we are all together being one Church in our places.’
David King, director of Kingdom Voice Ltd, ambassador for the GATHER network
‘Ian’s visionary leadership is transforming his city. Upon meeting Ian, I was struck by his passion for the local church, his passion around the commissioning of empowered Christian leaders in service of their city, and for the unity of the body of Christ. This book is so timely as we move with God’s Spirit, calling us to surrender our silos and agendas for the advancement of His kingdom. I believe this book will tug at the heart of every leader to clearly discern God’s voice in answering the call to be an agent of unity and city transformation. Get ready to be forever changed!’
Rev Ebony S Small, consultant, speaker, director of Movement Day Expressions, USA
Are We Brave Enough? (ISBN: 9781909728974) by Ian Mayer is published by Instant Apostle and is available from Christian bookshops, bookstores and online retailers. Non-fiction, 128pp, £7.99.