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Blog Archive for 4/11/04 - 4/17/04

An Interview with Tod Bolsinger,
      author of It Takes a Church to Raise a Christian

Posted at 9:40 p.m. on Saturday, April 17, 2004

Welcome to the first interview I’ve put up on my website. My victim is Dr. Tod Bolsinger, Senior Pastor of San Clemente Presbyterian Church and author of an outstanding new book, It Takes a Church to Raise a Christian: How the Community of God Transforms Lives (Baker, 2004).

MDR: So, Tod, your first book is out. How do you feel?

TB: Pretty gratifying actually. I have been working on this book since the first George Bush was president of the United States so its great to have people actually read it. It started as a Ph.D. dissertation and then I had a chance to rewrite it, drawing from my experiences being a pastor of growing church. Now, I feel as if I have something that can be helpful to those who care deeply about seeing their churches make a difference for Christ in the world. If Bill Hybels is correct that the “local church is the hope of the world” then we need to take much more seriously the local church.

MDR: As a pastor of a local church, I can say “Amen” to that. Of course, since I’m a Presbyterian and not a Baptist, I don’t say “Amen” to things. Anyway, let’s cut to the chase? What do the rubber bands on the cover of your book mean?

TB: Ah…they have a dual meaning. They represent the intertwined reality of Christian community that reflects the way in which the persons of the Trinity are all unique but interrelated. It was my publisher’s idea and I must say that I think it’s a pretty cool image for who God is and what we are supposed to be as the Christian church: all distinct persons wrapped together as one.

MDR: Hmmm. I like that. And, yes, I think it’s a cool cover. Tod, I’ve got discerning readers and they have busy lives. Can you summarize the main point of your book in fifty words (or less)?

TB: I can do it in a lot less than that: “As God is, the church should be. The more that the church is like God, the more Christians will become like Christ.”

MDR: Whoa! I don’t know if I’ve ever heard an author summarize a book in only 22 words. That must be some kind of record.

TB: In a nutshell, Mark, this book is about the way that the church is (whether we want to fully believe it or not). We’re the embodiment of Christ on earth. And the more that we together reflect the character of God through our Christian Community, the more we are transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ. The great news of this biblical and theological truth is that the very people we are seeking to attract to Jesus are actually looking for authentic, godly communities (whether they realize it or not.)

MDR: So your book is not only about growing Christians, but also about drawing people to Jesus Christ. If the church is the church, as God has designed it, then we won’t have to choose between discipleship and evangelism, between growing individual believers and church growth. Well, let me ask you then, for whom have you written this book, primarily? Who is your “target” audience?

TB: This book is primarily for Christian lay leaders to read and discuss with their pastors. Only as both lay leaders and pastors start to read, pray and think together about what the church was meant by God to be, can they help their particular churches begin to, in fact, be it! This book offers them theological insight, strategy and practical dynamics for helping churches become the kinds of places where lives are actually being changed.

MDR: Tod, I’d say “Amen” once again except for, you know, my Presbyterian hang-ups. But I do love what you’re saying about writing for both pastors and lay leaders. Too often books like yours are read only by pastors, who then get all kinds of new ideas about how to change their churches. But their lay leaders haven’t been a part of the pastor’s process, so they’re nervous if not actually hostile to the pastor’s vision. Besides pastors and lay leaders, any other intended audience for your book?

TB: I also wrote the book with eye toward seekers out there who have been disillusioned by churches that are frankly no different than the Kiwanis club (with better music, perhaps!) I hope that it will stimulate both seekers and leaders to work together to transform the church and in so doing, transform their lives.

MDR: As you know, there are tons of books out there on the church. What makes yours distinctive?

TB: There are indeed a lot of books on church right now, but most of them are more about giving specific techniques than about thoughtful and biblical reflection on what God intends the church to be and what we can do about it. Regardless of a church’s size, style, or denomination, this book offers lay leaders and pastors a way to think passionately and act strategically so that their churches are life-transforming reflections of Jesus Christ.

MDR: Sounds great to me, Tod. I’d go out right now and buy your book, except that I already have two copies. But I will recommend to my blog faithful that they purchase your book, maybe even one for themselves and one for their pastor. Thanks, Tod, for being my the subject of my first website interview.

Christ is Risen! He is Risen, indeed!
Posted at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 10, 2004

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man
Stained glass window of the Resurrection, from the Duomo in Florence, Italy.
must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened. (Luke 24:1-12)
"Easter Morning" by the contemporary Christian artist, James Janknegt. For more information, see his website.
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