Review – Red Alert: Does the future have a church?

By Gil Cann, 2018, Albatross Books

‘People don’t need more information, but more affirmation; not more training, but more recognition of the gifts God has already given them. They don’t need to be recruited, but released. They don’t need more courses, but more opportunities for ministry. They need to be valued and appreciated – they need your encouragement and prayer” (pg 121).

Based in Melbourne, Pastor Gil Cann is a frequent preacher and evangelist across Australia, including rural WA and speaking at CampFIRE, an annual camp run by the Pastoral Network of Evangelicals Uniting in Mission Action (PNEUMA).

His exploration of the most pressing issues facing the church and our society are both challenging and encouraging, making this a highly recommended read for anyone who continues to hope, pray and work for a future where the church is relevant and effective. My personal copy of this book is underlined and highlighted throughout, as Gil raises our gaze from the church as an organisation, where we are all about the same thing, to church as an organism – the body of Christ – where the same thing is in us… the Holy Spirit.

One huge challenge for me is to what Gil calls out as the misconceived strategy of the hour of Sunday worship.

“Church services have produced generations of people whose gifts have never been used. Despite regular attendance, the faith of many remains nominal; despite years of hearing sermons, their biblical knowledge remains minimal; through lack of opportunity to participate, their witness remains tentative (pg 192).”

Gil’s vision of a healthy church is where “every member is living astonishing lives in stark and winsome contrast to the people around them (pg 166).”

This will not be seen in predictable, programed and inflexible church services. The primary ministry of a church is the sum total of everything which every one of its members says and does in  every situation on every day of the week. What we need are more people to be ministry facilitators. People who will day by day decide who they will encourage, whose gifts and callings they will seek to help identify and develop, who they will pray with, affirm and support. Gil calls these people ‘maximisers’.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Paul writes “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you are already doing”.

Gil’s heart is not to condemn or discourage, but to call us as God’s people into an even better way of being and doing in our time and place.

His book is available at gilcann.com

Rev Mark Illingworth

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