Individualism. Isolationism. Consumerism. "It's All About You." These are some of the barriers that Randy Frazee addresses in his book, The Connecting Church 2.0. Utilizing sixteen chapters divided into four parts, Frazee looks at the barriers we have built as individuals and as a society that keep us from experiencing the true community described in the Book of Acts. As a church, we have attempted to bridge these barriers with the "small group" concept but many times we fall short of true community.
Frazee states that the first two chapters of parts 1 through 3 are largely unaltered from the first edition of this work. (16) Each of these chapters contain timeless principles that can be applied in our ever-changing world. The final chapter of each of these parts contains insights and experiences gleaned in the 10 year from the original publication. Part four is all new material. It is where the "rubber meets the road."
In Part 1, Frazee provides the reader with an explanation of Common Purpose. Here he tackles the barrier of individualism. Americans are fiercely individualistic. It's what makes us unique. He identifies our individualism as the reason why many small groups do not experience true biblical community. We each bring our own beliefs and purposes into the group rather than the group adopting a common set of beliefs and purposes. This results in a lack of accountability to one another.
Part 2 – Common Place deals with Isolationism Frazee traces the beginnings our isolationism to the movement from towns to the suburbs. (82) While this movement solved the housing needs of the expanding populace, it also created a modern-day prison where people drive into their driveways, go into houses, and never see one another. (83) Today we have placed ourselves into a sort of solitary confinement. We communicate with others via Facebook and Twitter, rather than face-to-face.
Part 3 – Frazee discusses Common Possessions (i.e. Consumerism). Consumerism is about consumption – the concentrated effort to purchase, acquire, and use up things to meet one's real and perceived needs and wants. (125) We have become a society that thinks our "wants" are "needs". This consumerism has elevated rights over responsibilities. (125) Pursuit and protection of one's rights always wins out over one's responsibility to his or her neighbor. (125) Our pursuit of "keeping up with the Joneses" has replaced being our brother's keeper.
Part 4 – Connecting Church is where the "rubber meets the road." Here Frazee offers a chapter on the top ten mistakes he has made along the way and the lessons learned. Chapters 13-16 address two different small-group ministry paradigms. Mixed in these chapters is an entire chapter devoted to examples of four different churches that are implementing the connecting church vision.
This book was hard to wrestle with as I am a introvert by nature. Making relationships is a difficult task for me. I easily identified with the barriers of individualism and isolationism. Unfortunately, I also identified with the barrier of consumerism. Frazee provides easy to apply examples to help breakdown these barriers, if we will just take the first step. I recommend this book highly to all believers, particularly ministers and lay leaders in the small group ministry the church. Make sure you read it with an open mind and heart and be prepared to break down some barriers.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Cross Focused Reviews as part of their Connecting Church Blog Tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Todd Randolph is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.