Beyond Church: An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word of the Bible. This was one of the first of many books I have read on the subject of ekklesia. As with any book I read, I first want to understand the key point the author is trying to convey. I believe the full title of Steve's book sets the tone for his message.
Let's start with the title. Implicit in the phrase, 'beyond church' is that there is something outside of our traditional understanding of what believe to be 'church'. Is what we know, all there is to be known? For the average believer, the assumption is that what we know, is all there is to know. In this book, you will learn that is not the case.
The invitation that is extended becomes an additional challenge. It is intriguing to imagine there can be a 'lost word' in scripture. It is more intriguing to discover what that word is - church. Thus, begins the core of this book. Let's dig a little deeper.
The first chapter clearly outlines what you will hear over and over if you choose to study this subject. That is, that the word church is a mistranslation of the Greek noun, ekklesia. From the start, you will be faced with the idea that what you have known all your life to be church - should have never existed. Likewise, you will a challenged to try to justify version of church. You will undoubtedly find that to
be an eye-opener. Most of what we do today cannot be substantiated by scripture. You will no doubt be confronted with the decision to 'experience' the lost word of the bible - ekklesia.
As you move throughout BEYOND CHURCH, Steve begins to build a case for ekklesia. In sharing his conversion and introduction into the Jesus Movement, the author helps us to see his global view of this topic, and how he successfully assimilated his experiences into the Salvation Army.
Being born again in a traditional Presbyterian system, and later discovering Christ in open participatory meetings, it is easy to see how God used these experiences to lead Steve to his grasp of ekklesia.
I particularly like the third chapter, 'How Does Ekklesia Work?' as it reminded me of my own journey and subsequent writings. As I was writing this review, I took note of the many notations that I made during my initial reading of this book.
This is the 500th year since the Protestant reformation. Martin Luther posted his famous 95 Thesis on the door of All Saints Church in Wittenburg in protest of the practice of indulgences among other things. In his book, Steve Simms has provided a contemporary 95 Thesis for the 21st century believer. Those chapters alone will serve to create great discussion starters.
Now if you think that I am about to do a chapter by chapter summary, I will probably disappoint you. However, I will tell you that the remainder of the book will give you a panoramic view of ekklesia. it will be as if you are looking over Steve's shoulder as he outlines critical aspects of what he calls, 'the lost word' of the bible.
Do I have any criticism of Beyond Church? Not really. As with any book, there are areas where I may disagree with the author. But I have learned not to confuse my personal preference with criticism or disagreement. In fact, I don't even think any such areas that may exist are worth mentioning. You may find areas I struggle with to be completely acceptable.
So, what is my conclusion?
Steve Simms has done a good job of presenting a challenging subject in a very relaxing style. This alone takes away the harshness of realizing that you have been led down the wrong path in an institution called church.
I would recommend this book to you. You should have it in your library. With each chapter you will come away with a better grasp of what the Lord intended when He declared, "...upon this rock, I will build my ekklesia!"
I was honored to have the opportunity to have Steve Simms join me on our new The Ekklesia Center Podcast. We discussed a myriad of subjects about ekklesia that will encourage you. It will also help you understand the author and his book. Click the link below to hear the full podcast. Blessings! TLK
Steve Simms has served as a Pastor, motivational speaker and ministry leader in the Salvation Army. He has studied at the Memphis Theological Seminary, the Melodyland School of Theology, and The University of Tennessee Martin. He publishes a blog, FREE GAS FOR YOUR THINK TANK (a blog to jog your mind and unclog your heart) He and his wife, Ernie live in Nashville, Tennessee.
Tim Kurtz is the founder of The Ekklesia Center developed to help believers desiring to pursue New Testament values and structure. He teaches extensively on what the impact the mistranslation of the Greek word ekklesia to the English word church has had on the Body of Christ. He has served in numerous capacities in the 'church system' including being a Pastor for over 25 years. He is the author of several books and the primary contributor to the EKKLESIAInsights Blog. Tim is also the host of Good Morning Ekklesia, broadcast live on Facebook. In these daily Study Starters he provides key information that believers can use to study ekklesia deeper. He and his wife Carolyn have been married 46 years and live in Michigan. They have two adult children, eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.