The Great Giveaway by David Fitch – A Literary Review
Over the next few weeks you will probably see a number of literary
reviews. One of the differences between a literary review and
a straight up book review is that literary reviews are written to help
with future research. So I am writing with the idea that this will
guide me to what I want to go back and study. There are various
approaches to literary reviews, but here will be mine.
I basically start with my sense of the author’s thesis, followed by a
general overview of the book, and then I focus on themes that are
pertinent to my research. With that said, here is my review.
Fitch in The Great Giveaway contends that the evangelical church under the spell of modernity has given her various callings (functions) away; he is calling the church to be the church in our current context of postmodernity.
Fitch works out his thesis first by redefining success and looking at the various practices of the church – Evangelism, Leadership, Worship, Preaching, Justice, Spiritual Formation and Moral Education. He addresses how the evangelical church has given away each of these callings due to her marriage to modernity. He makes the case that the church has structured herself out of meaningful existence. In each chapter of the book he takes one of these core callings of the church and describes how the church has given it away to “the experts” or over to certain techniques. He then proposes some practices for the church to engage in that are rooted in the history of church, so that the church might faithfully live out her calling again, in our postmodern context.
THOUGHTS TO CONSIDER
Fitch takes the first chapter to redefine success. He makes the point that the American business culture and individualism has caused the church to be concerned about numbers and size, but the real question should be: “What kind of organization facilitates the inner workings of a local body of Christ that are necessary to properly nurture new believers into followers of Christ and participants in his salvation through the body of Christ?”(38) I found Fitch’s diagnosis of the church brilliant. For the sake of memory, I want to (a) list out each practice he evaluates, (b) describe how the church practiced it in modernity and (c) summarize Fitch’s advice on how the church can reclaim that approach by a different set of practices that are true to the scriptures and our current context of ministry. As a note of caution, this outline does not do justice to the rich insights that Fitch gives us in each chapter. Nor does this chart list all of the advice he gives for each practice. For example, in the practice of evangelism, Fitch talks about the practice of hospitality, prayer, mercy, justice, third space ministry and other things. This chart I developed gives a simple look at how the evangelical church thought about this practice under the spell of modernity, and how she ought to think about this practice in postmodern times. (Click to make larger.)
The explanations and detailed understanding of what Fitch has written is worth reading again and again. I highly recommend this thoughtful book.