What Is Jesus Doing?: God’s Activity in the Life and Work of the Church – Edited by Edwin Chr. Van Driel

“What is Jesus doing?” is probably a very uncommon question these days. It makes me think of the famous question a couple decades ago: “What would Jesus do?” But this question implies that Jesus may not have a present ministry RIGHT NOW, therefore we should look at what He did in the past and what He said He would do in the future to guide our life and ministry. What is Jesus Doing? is a handful of essays that looks to the present ministry of Christ at the right hand of God, and how this impacts our life and work in the Church.

If I am honest, it is rare that I step outside of my own denominational or theological views when I choose which books to read. But I am glad that I did for this one, as it speaks from largely Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Methodist, and often more progressive viewpoints. There were many things that I disagreed with, some I was unfamiliar with, and a lot of challenging ideas that invited me into different possible interpretations of Christ’s present work in the life of the Church. It is a compilation of essays from various bishops, priests and ministers with experience in and passion for ministry. It is split up into four different sections that focus on Systematic Theology, Missional Theology, Pastoral Theology, and Liturgy and Homiletics in relation to Christ’s current role and ministry in the Church, especially in a post-Christian context.

For too long ministerial work has been cast in terms of human agency shaped by and responsive to the work of God in Christ. Instead, the focus ought to be on God’s ministry; and the church’s ministry is nothing but participation in what God already is doing.”

page ix

The first few chapters (1-3) look at Christ Ascended and how this truth impacts the church. The next couple of chapters (4-5) looks at how Jesus is working through incarnation and our participation with Him in growing and expanding the Church. Chapters 6-10 dig into pastoral care and pastoral theology while chapters 11-14 look at God’s action in the Church in and through liturgical practice and preaching God’s Word.

There were several issues in this book that were new territory for me, such as a more liturgical approach to worship and some distinctives of the Methodist/Presbyterian traditions. I cannot stand behind everything argued for here, but the general scope and focus of the book (Christ’s present work and action in His body, the Church), whether this is expressed liturgically and traditionally, or more contemporarily, is a topic that needs to be discussed more. The church is God’s, and He is working and moving it along for His glory, and this should bring hope. It is about us joining in what God is already doing in the world. This truth made the book worth reading, as it is so easy to lose hope for the church in this day and age or think that we are “in charge” of running this thing we call church. We need to be reminded that God is currently acting in and through His church, His bride.

If you are a pastor or minister in any capacity, and are open to reading different perspectives on church life and work, this book can be really helpful for you. There may be some issues you have to wade through depending on your denominational leanings, but the overall theme needs to be heard, that the fact that Christ is sitting at the right hand of the Father doesn’t mean that He is not active in the church today, but just the opposite.

Read & Repeat

**This book was graciously provided by IVPress in exchange for an honest review.

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