Mike Tatlock’s book, Faith in Real Life: Creating Community in the Park, Coffee Shop, and Living Room, emphasizes the importance of authentic Christian community. Tatlock states that church is a not merely an event, but a process. Community, the process of the church being lived out in everyday life, compels believers to live in close connection with each other. Only through this type of authentic community can believers be strengthened to live their faith radically in real life and pursue fullness in Christ.
Tatlock suggests a way of creating this community via contacting others in the park, by building consistency in the coffee shop, and by connecting with people in living rooms. In a casual and conversational style, the book journeys through these areas of life to arrive at the point of true community as reflected in Hebrews 10:24-25: “And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (NASB). This real-life community is a clear passion of the author and is portrayed through his roles as lead pastor at Grace Chapel in Portland, Oregon, professor at Multnomah Bible College, and a frequent teacher at workshops and seminars. Through his engaging stories and candid examples, the author’s knowledge is evident and inspiring.
The ultimate purpose of community is to share Christ’s redemptive love and truth to a world in need. By Christians living their lives with each other in an intimate and honest connection of love, care, and concern, the church is viewed as a place of acceptance to non-believers. This type of “character marketing, the consistent process of displaying and performing the loving exchange between the church and individuals,” makes the gospel message especially effective (p. 105).
This book presents a fresh perspective on a common concept in Christianity. The author offers excellent examples to emphasize his points and displays credibility in his writing. However, the organizational style of the book made it difficult for me to connect the details of the book to the overall theme. In my opinion, the order in which ideas are placed is distracting from the author’s relevant and beneficial knowledge on the subject. The book is clearly focused to a particular group of people: Christian adults living in an urban setting, especially those involved in church leadership. Therefore, I would recommend the applicable knowledge of Faith in Real Life for this group only. – Becky C. Jacobs, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
An effective new voice in the contemporary church movement shares important lessons from his failures and successes in building a community that reaches out with maximum impact within an emerging culture. Over the past decade, Mike Tatlock has been on a journey to examine the life of Jesus with a view to developing a church that truly makes a difference. His hard-won lessons have shaped a ministry philosophy that is connecting people in community to engage the world around them—from the living room to the coffee shop and beyond. His clear strategy intentionally connects people and provokes them to be about something bigger than themselves. It generates momentum in a culture where people long to be part of a cause that is bigger than being a member of a church. And it creates a network of lives bonded together through authentic relationships. Faith in Real Life is not a collection of theoretical how-to’s but, rather, an inspiring flight of discovery designed to help church leaders and their members take the risk to live fully, effectively, and engagingly as the body of Christ in this world.