BUILDING THE BODY: 12 CHARACTERISTICS OF A FIT CHURCH
By Gary L. McIntosh and Phil Stevenson, Baker Books, PB, 224 pages
What does it mean to be physically “healthy?” What about “fit?” Is there a difference between the two? These are the questions McIntosh and Stevenson explore in this book. “Just as physically healthy people might not actually be fit enough to run a 5K,” the book proposes, “so the church can appear healthy…but not exhibit fitness.” In order to use the human body as a metaphor for church health and fitness, the authors begin by guiding readers through the five stages of personal fitness: cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility and body composition. These five sections are then paralleled with church fitness, which involves developing and strengthening Christ-centered worship, community outreach and personal ministry. The premise is, just as a human body cannot be strong if it has a damaged heart or limp muscles or degenerate bone structure, the church cannot be completely healthy if it has no evangelistic effort to bring in new converts or it has no programs to help the homeless or it has no vibrant worship services that praise God. The authors make their analogy evident, and then they offer suggestions, plans and projects by which to make an ailing church more fit.
Because this is written in non-technical language and because it makes its theology easy to understand, it could be enjoyed by an adult/who is passionate about strengthening the church. Throughout the book, the illustration of a runner is used. This illustration not only helps readers to remember the qualities of a fit church, but it also provides a good picture for readers to use in assessing their own church. This illustration of running is even biblical. Paul compares a faith journey to a long-distance run: “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” – Hebrews 12:1 (NIV).
Reviewed by Mrs. Margaret Neal, a Professional Writing Major at Taylor University.