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For over 90 years the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (FIEC) has encouraged and equipped local churches to go and make disciples for Jesus Christ in every community of our nation. These churches share a common ecclesiology, which they believe is thoroughly Biblical and therefore most effective to supporting and advancing gospel ministry.
This resource, written by some of the leading Pastor–Theologians of the FIEC, explains the theology, history, practice and vision of Independent churches. It will help those outside the FIEC to understand our identity and purpose, and overcome some common misunderstandings about Independency. It will inspire those within FIEC, and in other Independent churches, to have confidence in our ecclesiological convictions, and urge us to work together even more effectively if we are to meet the massive missionary challenges of post–Christian Britain.
This book is a collection of articles, edited by John Stevens, the National Director of the FIEC. The FIEC is not a denomination but an association of over 500 independent evangelical churches in the UK. Among the impressive group of contributors are Robert Strivens the Principal of London Theological Seminary, Ken Brownell of East London Tabernacle, Bill James of Leamington Spa and Adrian Reynolds of the Proclamation Trust. So experienced practitioners in churches and training institutions with seasoned observations of the UK evangelical scene. It is a comprehensive overview of the history, theology, purpose and future of independent evangelical churches. Though sadly in the main forgotten, these churches have been a huge source of blessing to our country since the Reformation. More importantly, the flexibility, local accountability and congregational basis of independent churches makes them in many ways ideal for the post Christian Britain in which we find ourselves. The book is careful not to knock alternate models such as episcopacy or presbyterianism and in facts stresses the need for unity with our evangelical brothers and sisters with different views on the best model for church government. Rather it focuses on what is good and biblical in independency. Especially recommended are the chapters on church planting and training gospel workers. There is also a thoughtful chapter on the role of women in independency, an area which has been shamefully neglected in the main. Thoroughly recommended and very timely by anyone trying to make sense of what is and should happen to the church scene in the UK.
I found the book extremely helpful in clarifying the theology of Independence, the history of Independent churches, and how the FIEC functions today. If you want to know why some churches are not in a denomination, this book is for you. One of the difficulties with any book that is a collection of essays is that it changes pace and style and if not edited well can be rather repetitive. I notice with this book that John Stevens 'complied' the book and is not credited as an 'editor'. This is the only frustration with the book. There is only so many times you can read an introduction to John Owen or the Savoy Declaration. However, it didn't distract too much. There are clear highlights in the book that really encouraged and enthused me. Here are a few: Reading the history of Independent churches made me proud to be an Independent Church minister. Our history is longer and deeper than many assume. Ken Brownell writes about the suffering that our forefathers endured for not being a part of the established church and asks why they were willing to die for their convictions. He answers, 'they believed that the honour of Jesus Christ as head of his church was at stake.' I was really challenged by Bill James chapter on Independent churches and Confessions of Faith. I loved his defence of using Confessions as thus: 'Confessionalism is simply a matter of openness and transparency regarding our theological convictions'. As a result we are now reading through the Confessions in our weekly Pastors meeting. I thought that Andy Hunters chapter on eldership - which is vitally important in an Independent church - was gold dust. I would urge every elder to read this chapter. Graham Beynon is one of my favourite writers and he did not disappoint in his chapter on church discipline. The cost of the book was more than covered with this chapter. Listen to his clarity and timely wisdom: 'Passing verdicts on people's behaviour and excluding them from church membership is seen as the worst form of judgementalism today. Rather than an act of love, it is perceived as an arrogant power play, attempting to force people to conform. We must recognise this cultural setting and its influence within the church.' This book is a good defence of Independency and has some excellent essays on specific aspects of church life. It was very helpful on clarifying how the FIEC view themselves and the future of the church. It would be good to see the book edited before the Second Edition. But apart from that I am extremely grateful to the FIEC and 10ofthose for producing a much needed book. Thank you.
I am so thankful to FIEC and 10Publishing for their gargantuan effort in putting together this robust, accessible and comprehensive articulation of the ecclesiology of independency. It is written in an engaging and helpful way with the contributors being coal–face practitioners who bring tremendous weight, insight and thinking to the various chapters. The different voices and styles also help in engaging the variety in the different aspects discussed. Coming from an independent church, not affiliated to the FIEC, this is still a remarkable book bringing rigorous theological thought to a sphere of the church that can often seem a bit haphazard and awkward. I finished this book feeling bolstered in conviction, greatly helped in doctrine and with many great pointers as far as practice goes. The particular highlights for me were the 4 chapters by John Stevens who brings his forensic attention quite brilliantly to these chapters so they really are meaty. Andy Hunter’s on the role of elders in Independent Churches is fantastic as well and really highlight the potential flash points in these roles and relationships and Adrian Reynolds on preaching is an incredibly inspiring delight to read. I would recommend this book to anyone, it is by no means an easy read at times but is well worth every re–read sentence and brain squeezing paragraph. Anybody serving in an independent church or thinking of independency as a chosen landing area for a future career will not regret spent time digesting the content and interacting with the authors of this book.
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