Author and pastor, Michael R. Privett has a burden “to help all Christians – especially church planters, missionaries, preachers, and local church leaders – to avoid aimless years of church ministry bouncing around between the influence of church growth gurus, popular church trend, and pastoral peer pressure” (p. vii). Thus, the aim of To God Be the Glory: Is Your Church on Target (TGBG), is to provide a “practical guide that you will be able to use as a standard to regularly check your aim on the target of God’s mission for your local church” (p. vii).
Pastor Privett is the founding pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Williamsburg, Virginia and a graduate of Bob Jones University. TGBG is a basic overview of the primary biblical purposes of the local church, combined with a number of possible practical applications within each purpose. The book is arranged into two major sections (1) “The Primary Biblical Mission,” and (2) “The Biblical Objectives.”
The chapters contains a similar arrangement to each other. They take on the feel of a military briefing from a commander to the troops on the field. An objective is stated and biblically defended (i.e., evangelism), and then a section entitled, “Accomplishing This Objective” follows, providing practical suggestions for implementing the biblical values defined earlier.
The primary biblical mission of the local church, according to Privett, is the glory of God. After analyzing various Greek and Hebrew terms used in the Scriptures for “glory” and “glorify,” Pastor Privett states that giving God glory connotes the idea of “presenting a true opinion, view, and reputation of Him so that others will praise and exalt Him to His worthy place of honor, esteem and excellence” (p. 7).
Six biblical objectives follow the discussion of the primary biblical mission. These include evangelism, instruction, fellowship, worship, prayer and equipping believers. Three appendices follow. The first provides a fifty-question evaluation form a local church could utilize to determine its effectiveness and application of the biblical objectives discussed in the book. A sample mission statement and an illustration of the book’s arrangement are also included in an appendix.
Overall, no conservative Bible student will quibble with much of what Privett defines in his biblical objective for the church. His applications of these biblical principles, however, can take on the air of imposing personal opinion more than biblical mandates. For example, he suggests clapping is disruptive to worship (p. 11), Sunday school appears to be the only legitimate means of training believers in Scripture (p. 38), and all biblical churches have a midweek prayer meeting (p. 66).
Many of his applications presume a certain approach, background, and context of church ministry: primarily that of an independent Baptist church, of which stereotypically, the Bob Jones graduates and advocates would be familiar. This makes the book unhelpful at times for those not from such a background.
The book is a non-technical description of the priorities of a local church as described in the New Testament. Apart from a number of his personal opinions regarding practical application, I found the book somewhat refreshing in light of much of the modern pragmatic material devoid of any real Scriptural basis. – Bret Capranica, Christian Book Previews.com
With a message for pastors and lay leaders, To God Be the Glory reveals that a growing number of well-equipped, well-furnished churches are launching out into what they deem to be the Lord’s work with only vague notions of God’s plan. This is tragic because, as Privett makes clear, the mission of the church is not at all obscure. The New Testament reveals in great detail principles for making sure a church is evangelizing, worshiping, praying, and equipping its flock to the glory of God. Drawing from Christ’s own example and teachings, Privett takes readers back to the basics and shows how the church can simply define and outline its mission when it returns its focus to the glory of God.