Review: I had a very difficult time reading some of the case-studies in this book. I found old scars from past abuses being ripped wide open as Dr. Hellerman recounted stories of egregious abuses of authority.
As difficult as these stories were for me, though, this book came at a pivotal point in my ministry as the church I serve is in the beginning stages of changing our constitution and structure.
Rather than diving head-long into his thesis, Dr. Hellerman very wisely walks his reader from the social context of the Philippian church, to the biblical text itself, and then finally casts his vision for a plurality of pastor-elders leading the church as a family of believers.
The book is a good mixture of deep exegesis, case-study stories, historical background and very visual charts. (His chart on the three, descending levels of humiliation of Jesus in Philippians 2 is absolutely brilliant in its simplicity.)
Dr. Hellerman has a phenomenal vision for how team-leadership facilitating church-as-family relationships can work. And it does work. The problem is it is utterly radical. And while there are some contexts that this sort of structure can be implemented, in many church settings this structure would simply not be possible.
The reader is given some ideas on how to move a church closer to a church-as-family model outside of the author’s vision, but they are very sparse in comparison to the rest of the text. I would liked to have seen more strategizes for moving a church towards this family model, or alternatives for churches in different traditions to move towards this ideal within their context.
That one criticism notwithstanding, this is an important book. It is a very important book. I could personally write a book twice the length of this one recounting my own experiences after thirteen years of ministry of abusive authority in the church.
This is must-read material for all ministers with even a mite of authority in their local church. This should be required reading for those with authority in their local churches and denominations.
Rating: 5/5 (I Loved It)