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Publisher's Summary

What is the way forward for the church?

Tragically, in recent years, Christians have gotten used to revelations of abuses of many kinds in our most respected churches - from Willow Creek to Harvest, from Southern Baptist pastors to Sovereign Grace churches. Respected author and theologian Scot McKnight and former Willow Creek member Laura Barringer wrote this book to paint a pathway forward for the church.

We need a better way. The sad truth is that churches of all shapes and sizes are susceptible to abuses of power, sexual abuse, and spiritual abuse. Abuses occur most frequently when Christians neglect to create a culture that resists abuse and promotes healing, safety, and spiritual growth.

How do we keep these devastating events from repeating themselves? We need a map to get us from where we are today to where we ought to be as the body of Christ. That map is in a mysterious and beautiful little Hebrew word in Scripture that we translate “good”, the word tov.

In this book, McKnight and Barringer explore the concept of tov - unpacking its richness and how it can help Christians and churches rise up to fulfill their true calling as imitators of Jesus.

©2020 Scot McKnight and Laura McKnight Barringer (P)2020 Tyndale House Publishers

What listeners say about A Church Called Tov

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Hoping for more

The concept of this book sounds great. However, I was let down with shallow conclusions these authors came up with. This is only my opinion. I was recommended this book by someone that enjoyed it. I would not recommend it as it felt like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It felt like exchange one program (mega church with narcissist pastor) with a better program (smaller church where pastor knows everyone and with liturgy and structure). I would’ve appreciated a bit more depth and Jesus.

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Mostly good, but has a major issue

I was recommended this book by a co-worker at the Church I work at. we had recently had a situation that resulted in the forced retirement of our Sr. Pastor and the turnover of several employees. The book was well articulated and serves as a good way to talk about a legitimate problem with the power structures and cultures in churches; however, the book exists almost entirely as victim food. Please dont misunderstand me, this book can be good for those immediately after dealing with narcissistic church leaders, but if you have had closure please steer clear.

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Abused? Read this book.

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of abusive, narcissistic church leadership you NEED this book.

You are not crazy and you are not alone.
Thank you for this book!!

2 people found this helpful

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Overall, this book is Tov!

Overall, this book is good!
There is so much good in this book, you have to read it for yourself. Really. Whether you are part of a conventional church setting or a home church setting.
A couple of things, in my view, could/should further be said. The author praised seminary as a tried and true necessary element for qualifying a leader. I don't agree. It can be useful, but so can free in-home, in-depth study of God's Word.
Also, he could use to elaborate on the dangers and damages that seminary-to-paid- pastor has done to promote a breeding ground for hirelings and wolves. So much more needs to be said about this harmful tradition of men.

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Mostly good

I honestly did enjoy this book. I understand what Scot came out of with Willow Creek because I came out of something very similar. While there is loads of good content, such as the desire for empowering people to see all people simply as image bearers, I also see what concerns me to possibly be throwing out the baby with the bath water. I think there are many things he warns against that can be good. So I say read this book and read it with an open mind. There are many different churches because the body of Christ is full of unique individuals who will reach people uniquely. I do not believe there is a one size fits all approach for the church. Other than, as Scot concludes, Christ-likeness.

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Eloquent Revenge?

I wanted to like this book. I REALLY wanted to.

I believe in the premise, and this the teaching needs to be made. However, the author’s personal offenses and frustrations with the main villain (Bill Hybels,) (who I agree is a bad guy) were tedious and excessive.
It’ supposed to be a book about good church culture, it’s really just a book bashing all the pastors who lead bad church cultures. It’s an excuse to drag individuals through the mud under the guise of righteous guidance.

(The author would probably call my perspective gas lighting, so let me clarify- I’m a woman, who has been hurt by leadership and am trying to forgive)

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Gives me hope!

I was greatly distressed by the destructive patterns of behavior that are brought to light as a result of the authors’ own painful experience and diligent research. Can it really be this bad in the evangelical church?

However, this book does not just expose the abuses within the church at large. It lays a foundation for a rescue plan. One that places Jesus at his rightful place as the head and his people as faithful followers on equal ground. A church, not perfect, but committed to fulfilling God’s desire for his people. A people that regards each and every one as just as important as the other. A church that is good to all and for all.

This book filled me with hope. I have all but given up on the church at large. This book helped me see that there are genuine truth loving people in the church that truly love one another. People that want the church to be what it was intended to be. People who risk it all for what is right.

Please give it a read or a listen and discover the hope that these authors bring to bare upon the soul. I was not disappointed.

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Piercing and Powerful

This was a great book. It struck a beautiful balance between honest evaluation of church culture while offering a template for what Christ-centred churches should look like. I highly recommend it.

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Essential for Christian Elders

I really appreciated the thorough and honest look at how churches today are struggling with celebrity pastors, abuses and leadership fall out. We need to be aware how churches end up in these positions to be on guard to avoid those same behaviors. I think this is important for anyone in a local church to think through so they can be aware how we can safety our churches and set them in direction that truly reflects Gods intention for us. What is a pastor was a great section as well. Let’s show this world who we are by our love and kindness and ensure that is the hallmark of our ministries and interactions.

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Wonderfully sharp critique of the organizational church

The author provides an excellent analysis and critique of the many problems that exist in the institutional church model. Personally, I do not think this model of church can be reformed much, if at all, because it is designed - whether intentionally or unintentionally - like clubs, businesses or social institutions. The consequence is people expect the exact same kind of results: money is paid, the members choose which programs they attend, worship services are ‘provided’ for those attending, led by maybe a handful of people up front on a stage. It is structured entertainment. The manner in which the church functions and how its success is evaluated, are completely worldly in origin.

McKnight mentions the great challenges facing the twenty-first century institutional church structure, but he also mentions that things can change for the better with this model in place. It appears to me that the original New Testament model of house churches, where all people may participate and pastors work a full-time job out in the world, is the best way to proceed. These churches are smaller and more personal, there is no pressure for people to join (what is THAT, anyway?), no overhead because the homeowner takes care of that, no hierarchy to clutter and cloud relationships with a false sense of superiority, and opportunities for a mutual ministry of encouragement and edification that is utterly lacking in the institutional model.

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  • Mr. I. Simmonds
  • 01-02-22

If you put this in a word cloud TOV would come out

On top. Useful hard hitting and spookily reminiscent of my own experience in church in many ways. It is helpful in addressing ways to improve culture. Generally - look to Christ. Bless you

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  • Andy
  • 06-15-21

An interesting look at a Challenging issue

The authors take a broad view of some very tricky issues. They suggest ways in which these toxic situations can be avoided and suggest better ways of dealing with difficult situations.

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  • Adam Boyes
  • 11-23-21

Important discussion

This is a topic that deserves much more focus and discussion. Church abuse is rife and centralised power that results in church leaders lording it over one another is more the rule than the exception.

This was true in the times of the prophets of the Old Testament, it was true in the disciples in the night before Jesus was crucified and it is true in churches today.

There are some really, really good ideas in the book. There is also more than a hint of socialistic ideas, demonisation of any leaders with legitimate power and authority.

Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords, which would indicate that there are legitimate expressions of kingship and lordship for those under His rule.

My guess is that by being enmeshed in American style corruption of the church has lead them to believe that any church that has high attendance is abusive and un-Christlike?

It neglects the very biblical concepts that with wisdom comes riches and honour. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord, meaning that the wise person will not abuse or exploit or cut corners on integrity. Wisdom also understands God's judgement on such violations of integrity.

These are topics that must be faced and worked through, but for my money Wade Mullen's "Something's Not Right" does a much better job of exploring the topic at hand.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-20-21

A great challenge to today’s church

Very confronting but incredibly important issues that need to be addressed in many church cultures. A great encouragement to return to the true purpose of the church and its pastors to “pastor” the people and grow people into the likeness of Christ.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-20-21

Required Reading for All Leaders

Fascinating case studies and timeless wisdom every church leader needs to hear. Highly recommend this brilliantly crafted expose on kingdom culture and leadership. Know the warning signs and put into place accountability practices to help create a goodness culture in your church, family and community.