This is a book that the church has been waiting for as there isn't a fellowship anywhere that isn't immune to the temptations of power. However, a word of caution, this is not a book with ten chapters outlining ten steps to comprehend power in your congregation, or how to become a truly egalitarian commune. Any such approach is too simplistic and would really betray a desire to appropriate power without really desiring understanding.
Therefore the author takes us on a journey of discovery, first defining the church community and then exposing the complexity of power relationships within it. From demonstrating the inadequacies of simplistic models, such as power as zero-sum-gain, he demonstrates the need to grapple with Foucault's ideas of `power over', `power through' and `power for' etc. Then using voices from the margins, from those who have suffered at the hands of the exercise of 'power over', such as feminist and liberation theologies, creates a revisioning of all the power relations within the church.
Whilst this is not an easy read, for the topic is complex and new to most, it is highly rewarding, for it shines a bright light into the dynamics of church life. Power, per-se, need not be destructive for when the church handles power, in the same self-sacrificing way as Christ, so that it is working with and for the oppressed and the marginalised (either within or outside the church) then it is being authentic. However, this book clearly exposes the fallacy of any church exercising, in any capacity, `power over' and then considering itself authentic.
A fifth star is absent only because of the price of this book and hopefully it will become available in paperback at a more affordable price. However, it is affordable to every church, so therefore until then every church should purchase a copy for their ministerial team and then give them the time to read it. For this thorough examination of this important topic has the capacity to be a revelation to any church willing to critically examine themselves and expose the reality of where power is located, who is exercising it and for what purpose. Then to honestly ask themselves are we really reflecting God's nature within our church and to the world?Church, Community and Power