Randy Frazee, The Connecting Church: Beyond Small Groups to Authentic Community (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001), 245 pages.
Frazee’s book started off with three forewords; one by Larry Crabb, George Gallup Jr. and Dallas Willard. Its back cover contained words of praise from Willard, Ken Blanchard, J. I. Packer, Marshall Shelly and John C. Maxwell. I was impressed as I began to get familiar with the book.
I learned that the author Randy Frazee is an emerging leader, the senior pastor at the Pantego Bible Church in Arlington, Texas, that he collaborates with George Gallup Jr. and is a regular speaker at Willow Creek Association Conferences. The back flap advised that Frazee has developed the Christian Life Profile, a practical tool to measure a person’s spiritual development in thirty specific areas.
Frazee develops our common need for community by introducing his readers to a fictitious but very real couple named Bob and Karen Johnson who attend his large church but nonetheless are lonely as they hurtle through life pursuing the American dream of house, cars, college educated children, social status and of course a meaningful relationship with their creator.
Dream fulfillment is accelerated as Bob and Karen both work on impressive career paths and fit everything one should and has to do into seven 24 days. A small group could and did not provide the relationships Bob and Karen needed to mature into the Godly design they knew they were to pursue.
The solution proposed by the author was for the Johnson’s to step back and down. Get rid of the big house with grass lawns so expansive they hindered getting to know the neighbors. Stop chasing the dream and seek community within a small community that was easier to afford and allowed time to live a life not seek one.
Our fictitious couple ended up in a connected life which affords them all they were missing as they pursued the good life. The connected life is the life we need and want; at least it is to Frazee’s present perspective.
Frazee uses the first century church described in Acts as his model. He urges that the connectedness that they enjoyed was the key to their success. The Johnson family ended up after experiencing neighborhood group community life for two years convinced that they would never go back to the individualistic isolated life style of consumerism that had governed their lives for thirty years. They finally recognized that they had come a long way in their quest to learn more about Christ and to be more like him. The mysteries of the authentic Christian community would take a life time to learn and the Johnson’s signed up for the duration. My best to Frazee but I will keep my present residence and stay where I am.
Reviewed by H. Murray Hohns
This book review by the late Pastor Mur was originally published in 2007 at the Pneuma Foundation (parent organization of PneumaReview.com) website.