Sunday, November 4, 2012

Discover Your Windows

Our whole church has been reading this book, Discover Your Windows: Lining Up with God's Vision, by Kent R. Hunter. It's nonfiction self-help about returning your church to Biblical worldviews so that it (and you) can be effective in ministry. Hunter delineates ten windows we see the world and our church through. How we look through each of these windows, dealing with issues from finances to giftedness, reveals where our hearts are at and if we are aligned with God's worldview. For instance, the first window is that of Purpose. What is the primary purpose of the Church? Is it to be inwardly focused on the members, or is it to be focused on leading the lost to Christ? Two very different churches arise out of these two answers. This first window is the foundation of the rest of the book. If you can't agree with Hunter that the Church's mission is first and foremost to the lost, then you'll be at odds with him for the nine remaining windows, too.

I find nonfiction to be pretty dry, so I generally don't read it. When I do, it's either a gift to me or it's carefully selected, and the going is slow. I would never have picked this book up if it wasn't something our church was doing together. I pretty much agree with Hunter, and if I didn't, I wouldn't have picked up the book then either. But having read it, I do think it's a good book for a church to read together to get onto the same page, especially if your church seems to have lost its focus or become stagnant.

The book is biblical, as far as I know the Bible, and I really like that about it. It's straight forward truth-telling, not beating around the bush or sugar-coating anything. Sometimes churches need a wake-up call. Of course, if God isn't in it, they'll just turn over and hit the snooze. Books can't change you, but they can get you thinking, and in a group, they can get you thinking alike. There's power in that. So, I like what the book has to say. It needs to be said.

I'm not as fond of aspects of the presentation. I had a hard time, for some reason, wrapping my head around the concept of the windows. I get that a window can alter your perception of reality; that wasn't the issue. I understood the concepts but kept getting hung-up on the terminology. Each chapter ends with a review of the windows that have already been discussed. That was nearly useless to me. Simply by looking at each window summary phrased like this: "Window 1: Your Purpose Determines Your Mission," I couldn't always recall the central point. Something just wasn't clicking. Perhaps I needed a more visual metaphor, but maybe that wouldn't have been concise enough.

Hunter begins most of his chapters with a story, most likely fictional but based on what happens in churches today. I like storytelling, so that method of teaching worked for me. But one of the very first illustrations of the book has to do with football, and this is just personal preference, but that turned me off. Hunter asks you to imagine what it would be like to be in the huddle during the fourth quarter. Basically, that's jibberish to me, but I understand enough to know that that's not someplace I'd like to imagine myself ever! The point had to do with the fact that those football players don't focus on the stench of that moment; they're too focused on the goal. Unfortunately, I was grossed out and bored, so that particular illustration didn't work for me.

I think the book also needs an updated revision. It was published 10 years ago, when, apparently, audio tapes were still a valid listening option, as it references them for resources frequently. I'm guessing that there are also more recent books and other resources that would be more helpful for today's audience. Nonfiction goes out of style fast.

I might give an updated version of the book four stars, but this one gets three. It's still a solid church resource.

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