EQUIP Shorts: Tony Payne, 'How to Walk into Church'

For many of us, church is something that falls into the ‘motion’ and ‘routine’ of the week. Sunday rolls around which means that we hop into the car and head down to the ‘church’ building to sing some songs, hear a bit of the Bible and talk to some people before heading back home.

If you’re someone who’s finding church draining at the moment, have never really thought about what church is or how you can contribute; this is a great book that will point you to God’s picture of church and the generosity of service that flows out of it.

Tony Payne’s How to Walk into Church is a refreshing reminder of what’s at the heart of our church gatherings. He gently encourages us to think more about church and how we can ‘walk well’ as we participate each week.

Tony helpfully begins by outlining the Biblical foundation of what church is. In a culture that is increasingly consumerist, he points us to God’s word and what the focus should be; church isn’t about me, it’s about God and others.

So often our culture tells us that anything that we attend is measured by what we can get out of it. It’s only worthwhile if you get something from it. And this influences the way that we see church.

But God’s image of church is a thing of beauty and delight, a family that has been gathered by God. A community that cares for each other and isn’t self-centred or self-serving, aiming to ‘maximise the return’ for the time that you spend with them, but one that is generous, God centred and other-person focused.

One of the most helpful things he discusses is the importance of prayer and preparation before coming to church. Often I arrive at church without much thought, but if I’d reflected a bit beforehand and asked God to help me be intentional in my conversations, how much more could I encourage the people I meet with?! This is just one of the many practical ways that Tony encouraged me to ‘walk well’.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It’s accessible, practical, fun (look out for Tony’s ‘screen saver’ comment!) and so very helpful in encouraging me to rethink how I walk into church. It truly is a privilege to belong to God’s family of forgiven sinners and even more, a joy to be able to consciously build others up and demonstrate the gospel in action to those around us.