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on 15 April 2013
Church zero is a provocative, entertaining but entirely serious assault on the way western churches have capitulated to business and un-biblical approaches to church leadership with a multi-tasking pastor burning himself out at the top of the tree. "Wake up Neo, the matrix has you." Failure, desperation and success on Peyton's ministry and church planting journey both in south Wales and USA add an authenticity to to his plea for a return to Ephesians 4:11-12 as the blueprint for church-planting and church leadership.

". . .So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up."

Only Jesus has mastered all of these five roles. A pastor alone cannot. A church needs its apostles, prophets. evangelists and teachers too. Peyton expounds these verses in detail; writing as he preaches, with great imagination plentiful illustrations taken from more movies than I have ever seen, eighties animated cartoon series and church history, but always with close attention to the dynamic text of scripture. Whatever your take, you won't be bored by this book. I have been very provoked and am meeting up with someone this afternoon to discuss what to do about it.
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on 18 April 2013
ok, first up - Peyton is a friend, but I'll try and make my review as unbiased as possible. . . much like a mum at her 4 year old son's first Christmas play in school. . . .

I'm a church planter and Peyton reflects my great desire that the church rediscovers apostles & prophets rather than just the pastor. He handles this and other situations in a direct and open hearted way, but often with humour, and usually with a movie analogy! As the role of apostle & prophet has been lost to a large extent, we (I) need to start looking out for people with these gifts and making space for them, after all, I read somewhere that we need to be do-ers, not just hearers.

Too many pastors end up burned out. Releasing apostles & prophets is one part of the solution, and equally important is making space for EVERY member of the body of Christ to function in their own unique, God given way.

I highly recommend Peyton's book - be prepared to be challenged, maybe even annoyed, but be open to what God may be saying.

btw, my purchase is not verified by Amazon as I bought it from a local Christian Bookshop. I recommend you do the same :)
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on 22 April 2013
This is a good book, strangely an American talking about his experiences of church planting in Wales. Worthwhile in that he calls for a biblical understanding of the five fold ministries expressed in some contemporary language - it probably will date quite quickly. That said I loved the comparison of Jesus with the Halo Master Chief (a 7 foot cyborg). Whilst nothing was new in the book, you can tell he's shouting at the neo-conservative crowd in shaking their understanding of the apostolic. Probably good to read alongside Dave Devonish's book on the subject, as that sees Apostles more like Fathers than Church Planters. It also merciful just because says the thing once unlike many Christian books these days which have one idea in chapter one and repeat in each of the subsequent 12 chapters.
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on 9 April 2013
Can't say enough good things about this book. A powerful, funny, thought provoking read. Absolutely loved it! Would recommend it to all Christians. The church needs to go back to zero!
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on 30 June 2013
For anybody looking to plant or who feels the church needs to go back to its roots, read this book. Looking at both his experiences in Wales and what the bible says about church, church structure and its role in the world, Peyton Jones challenges the modern church to get back to the new testament and once again reach society without watering down or downplaying the gospel.

I highly recommend.
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on 15 May 2013
Church Zero. by Peyton Jones
A review by a 'JT' a Welshman!!
I saw the package when I arrived home at 4.30 yesterday. Some calorific sustenance was ingested and by 5pm I was getting started. I am a fast reader and 4 hours later I finished it I was exhausted. I had laughed out loud on a number of occasions particularly on p92 of the hardcopy version (go on buy a copy to find out why ). I cried and was deeply moved as Peytons narrative either amplified my own feelings about an issue or slammed me from a direction I wasn't expecting. Pages p26 p65 p166 and p176 where comments were made about the lack of engagement with youth had me very moved.
I come from a Church background where many of the things he addresses are a normal part of the language particlarly 'Apostles', I can see though how this book could be like a much needed hand grenade that blows up securely held positions to get the defenders out to 'gain ground not just hold it' as he often states.
His use of cultural connection points is prodigious, He man Master of the Universe, She Ra, Lord of the rings, Star wars and above all the Matrix are regularly referenced as are various Rock bands like U2, , he also references Eusebius 4th century Church historian,Chaucer as well as a range of Scholars and Evangelical luminaries.
Don't be fooled this is no superficial romp around 'being relevant' and 'down with the kids'. To dismiss what he says with some high handed superiority would be foolish in the extreme. He comes across a bit like Keith Green but without the Piano! This book is a prophetic challenge to Evangelicals, it has key reference to the American Church scene (and we soooo need the Church in the States to be strong relevant and Kingdom focussed in the decades to come) leaders need to read it , believe it AND make the changes , bold, scary changes . He is not a theorist (God deliver us from theorists) he is a multiple Church planter in a much more hostile and secular culture than the States are (at the moment), he is not some ranter from the balcony, he has dirt under his fingernails and bruises that are his badge of authority to speak into the Church and the Churches.
I don't want to compare but I have to. There are those who speak via books and platform to the Church in the 'West' like Bell and Mclaren who to varying degrees see the way forward as compromise with culture and in any practical sense try and 'get around the teaching of the Bible', the danger is that these people are really nice guys and are good communicators. Well lets welcome a relevant communicator to whom compromise on essentials would be an incomprehensible thought and impossible action. he sees the way forward as MORE confidence in the gospel, MORE confidence in the Church as authentic community MORE engagement with the needy people around us. He is a man who boldly and clearly says 'culture must bow to scripture' p124 ...... did you hear that people?
Listen to what Church Zero says even if it says 'your Church sucks' (ch 8 heading) or asks you to 'show me your Kung Fu' (ch 6 heading). You would be foolish not to.
Its a great book to plunder for some bits of punchy poetry and anecdotes but if that is all you do then you of all people most miserable.
Does this radical book have any shortcomings? Yes but they aren't worth mentioning apart from one its all about p20 and JUNIA! But that as they say is another story and perhaps another book.
'JT' John Tancock
JTs blospot.
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on 11 October 2014
A very challenging book for any church, though written from the perspective of a church planter. In my opinion, if all churches took the message of this book to heart and apply it to church life today, we would have more people coming to church and less leaving. The only downside for me is that Peyton Jones seems to be trying to hard to apply to the younger generation with all his illustrations and "sound bites" (or maybe I'm just getting too old!) This is why I gave it 4 instead of 5 stars as I think a lot of the people who need to read this, church leadership teams, may be put off and not get beyond the early chapters.
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on 8 April 2013
Church zero is all that it says, a rip roaring roller coaster ride which holds no punches, his punk preaching style is exhilarating and blows all boundaries between church and modern movie culture, Peyton Jones will blow your mind and preconceptions out of the window! If you struggle with his modern style, work through it because what's underneath is forged in great intellect and frontline experience. WAKE UP AMERICAN CHURCH, any western church and buy this book and put it into practise, my teenagers and their friends are saved, church going, church active, sold out for Jesus in a Godless country because of the practise of the ideas Peyton Jones expresses in this book, do I need to say more?!
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on 18 October 2013
I really wanted to like this book -- partly because I know the author, and partly because like him I want to see the church stirred up and become more biblical.

In it, Peyton does three things. First, he argues for a particular understanding of church leadership in the New Testament. Second, he claims that the contemporary church has ignored this model for two long (with chapters like "Why Your Church Sucks"). Third, he finishes with a passionate call to put things right.

The book is bristling with pop-culture references, which you'll probably either love or hate. In the first chapter we're told, "the post-Christian mind-set... [was] swallowing churches alive... like the mightly Sarlacc pit's digestive juices slowing eroding Boba Fett's Mandalorian body armor". Wikipedia had to come to my rescue for that (something to do with Star Wars, apparently).

The final third of the book is undoubtedly the best. I found myself carried along by Peyton's passion for church planting, despite all the hardships it can entail. His emphasis on the need for the Spirit's help is much-needed, and refreshing. Take this as an example: "The wind can't be tamed; it blows where it pleases. But I'll tell you where it pleases. Anywhere somebody is yearning to glorify Christ and step out in faith will find the roaring wind of the Holy Spirit at his or her back." Amen to that!

But unfortunately there are deep problems with the main part of the book. One problem is theological, the other is more about the book's character.

Let's deal with the theology first. Peyton's main argument is that the office of apostle is one that was present in the first century, but is missing today. It's this lack (together with a lack of prophets and evangelists) that is causing much of the problems in the contemporary church. Peyton makes clear that he's talking about apostles with a small `a' -- "a lesser group of church planters who served under Paul". And he's right to point out that Bible does describe many such people as apostoloi. He argues that today we won't have apostles like James and Peter, but we should have small `a' apostles like Titus, Barnabas, Apollos and so on, and that church-planters are these modern-day apostles. So far, so good.

But where does Paul fit into this? According to Peyton, "Paul was not one of the Twelve, but he was a kind of link between the twelve apostles who were there from the beginning and those who would take his place". Perhaps that's the case, perhaps not. But it certainly is clear from the NT that Paul was closer in authority and qualifications to the Twelve than he was to the small `a' apostles. Yet in Church Zero it's not the small `a' apostles that become the model for a modern-day church planter, it's Paul. He gets mentioned nearly 200 times in the book, nearly three times more than all the small `a' apostles put together. That's a big problem if you believe that Paul's role in the church was foundational and meant to be a model for today. And if you're someone who believes the small `a' apostles are to be a model, you'll surely be disappointed that Paul steals all their thunder.

Equally problematic is the lack of discussion as to who it was who sent the small `a' apostles. Peyton says they were "sent out by Jesus", but these small `a' apostles were not sent out directly by Jesus in the way that the twelve were. When we do find reference to their sending, we find they were sent by the church or by Paul (see particularly Acts 11:22 "they sent Barnabas to Antioch", and Philippians 2:19-29, but also Acts 15:22, 27, 17:10, 19:22, 1 Corinthians 4:17, and 1 Thessalonians 3:2). Indeed, it could be argued that the difference between the twelve and the small `a' apostles is that the twelve were directly commissioned by Jesus (as was Paul, of course), whereas the small `a' apostles were commissioned by the church. Peyton's right to say we should be looking for small `a' apostles today, but he's missed the New Testament's emphasis by not adding that they should be sent out and commissioned by the church.

That leads me onto my second, even deeper concern - the character of the book. Peyton says he loves the church, and I believe him, but he's got a strange way of showing it. Early on, he tells us that "the church inchworms pathetically on its mission like a fat little grub". As one Amazon reviewer said, "men usually don't take kindly to that kind of talk about their wives, even if the old lady is fat and not what she once was. It's still the Groom's bride -- show respect, dude."

It's not just the church that faces such heavy-handed criticism. Those who serve in seminaries are "brain-heavy, pasty-white, [and] book-nosed... more wired for holding ground than taking it". Pastors have a "comfortable lifestyle" and refuse to understand the Bible's teaching on church leadership because "it is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it". I know many seminarians, and many pastors, and this description fits none of them. They have their faults certainly, but they are as committed to gospel-advancement as any church-planter I know, including Peyton himself.

Church Zero then, is deeply flawed. It's passionate and edgy, and its aim of continuing to reform the church is the right one. But it's built on too shaky a theology to be truly reforming, and even worse, it slanders both the bride of Christ and the gifts he gave her. It's not a book that will win friends, and it will ultimately end up preaching only to the choir -- albeit a punk rock choir.
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on 24 July 2013
Hard to get inot at first but it got better and easier to understand, The working of Planting Churches is a great help in getting into and around the communitty.
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