Ordinary – Michael Horton

Who wants to be ordinary?  We want our Facebook profiles to sell us as radical, exciting – anything but ordinary.   To many steeped in this restless culture that craves novelty, the church can also seem, well, ordinary.

If only my church would embrace the Next Big Thing, whether that’s the latest church growth program or an edgy youth ministry, then we could make a difference.

If only I were involved in uncompromising mission work, rather than spending my days changing diapers or working in an office, then perhaps my life would have meaning.

Michael Horton takes aim at such disillusionment, both in our lives and in the church, in Ordinary. Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World.

The preaching of the full council of God’s Word, the proper administration of the sacraments, and a deep reliance on prayer.   These are the means by which God ordinarily, and powerfully, works in the life of the church.  Finding contentment in these ordinary means of grace, the author argues, is the antidote to the quick fixes, never-ending programs, and man-made revivals that hinder sustainable church growth and inevitably lead to burn out and disappointment.

The author argues that the antidote to a similar restlessness in our personal lives is the gospel.  The gospel has power, not just to save, but also to keep us on track by reminding us of our place in His story.  God does not need us to be radical.  He does not need us at all.  Rather, God has graciously allowed us to be part of His plan for the church.  His plan might involve dramatic work the mission field, but it is much more likely that it involves you living a quiet, ordinary, life of integrity right where God has placed you.  Our meaning in life doesn’t come through making hundreds of Facebook friends envious over our radical lives, it comes through being children of God, and the gospel reminds us of that truth.

This isn’t a perfect book.   Like the reviewer from Christianity Today, I felt at times that Ordinary showed “the weaknesses of a book written too quickly by someone who writes too many books.”  Don’t, however, let the occasional lack of focus deter you from reading this much needed work.

        Ordinary is one of 2693 books and DVDs available in our well-stocked church library.

Reviewed by:  Eric Stobbart,  January 2016