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Publisher's Summary

What is the way forward for the church?

Tragically, in recent years, Christians have gotten used to revelations of abuses of many kinds in our most respected churches - from Willow Creek to Harvest, from Southern Baptist pastors to Sovereign Grace churches. Respected author and theologian Scot McKnight and former Willow Creek member Laura Barringer wrote this book to paint a pathway forward for the church.

We need a better way. The sad truth is that churches of all shapes and sizes are susceptible to abuses of power, sexual abuse, and spiritual abuse. Abuses occur most frequently when Christians neglect to create a culture that resists abuse and promotes healing, safety, and spiritual growth.

How do we keep these devastating events from repeating themselves? We need a map to get us from where we are today to where we ought to be as the body of Christ. That map is in a mysterious and beautiful little Hebrew word in Scripture that we translate “good”, the word tov.

In this book, McKnight and Barringer explore the concept of tov - unpacking its richness and how it can help Christians and churches rise up to fulfill their true calling as imitators of Jesus.

©2020 Scot McKnight and Laura McKnight Barringer (P)2020 Tyndale House Publishers

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Important discussion

This is a topic that deserves much more focus and discussion. Church abuse is rife and centralised power that results in church leaders lording it over one another is more the rule than the exception.

This was true in the times of the prophets of the Old Testament, it was true in the disciples in the night before Jesus was crucified and it is true in churches today.

There are some really, really good ideas in the book. There is also more than a hint of socialistic ideas, demonisation of any leaders with legitimate power and authority.

Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords, which would indicate that there are legitimate expressions of kingship and lordship for those under His rule.

My guess is that by being enmeshed in American style corruption of the church has lead them to believe that any church that has high attendance is abusive and un-Christlike?

It neglects the very biblical concepts that with wisdom comes riches and honour. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord, meaning that the wise person will not abuse or exploit or cut corners on integrity. Wisdom also understands God's judgement on such violations of integrity.

These are topics that must be faced and worked through, but for my money Wade Mullen's "Something's Not Right" does a much better job of exploring the topic at hand.

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A great challenge to today’s church

Very confronting but incredibly important issues that need to be addressed in many church cultures. A great encouragement to return to the true purpose of the church and its pastors to “pastor” the people and grow people into the likeness of Christ.

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Required Reading for All Leaders

Fascinating case studies and timeless wisdom every church leader needs to hear. Highly recommend this brilliantly crafted expose on kingdom culture and leadership. Know the warning signs and put into place accountability practices to help create a goodness culture in your church, family and community.

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  • T.J.
  • 30-11-2021

Mostly good, but has a major issue

I was recommended this book by a co-worker at the Church I work at. we had recently had a situation that resulted in the forced retirement of our Sr. Pastor and the turnover of several employees. The book was well articulated and serves as a good way to talk about a legitimate problem with the power structures and cultures in churches; however, the book exists almost entirely as victim food. Please dont misunderstand me, this book can be good for those immediately after dealing with narcissistic church leaders, but if you have had closure please steer clear.

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  • Kirkpatrick’s
  • 06-04-2021

Hoping for more

The concept of this book sounds great. However, I was let down with shallow conclusions these authors came up with. This is only my opinion. I was recommended this book by someone that enjoyed it. I would not recommend it as it felt like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It felt like exchange one program (mega church with narcissist pastor) with a better program (smaller church where pastor knows everyone and with liturgy and structure). I would’ve appreciated a bit more depth and Jesus.

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  • Momof4
  • 07-04-2021

Abused? Read this book.

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of abusive, narcissistic church leadership you NEED this book.

You are not crazy and you are not alone.
Thank you for this book!!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 14-01-2022

Eloquent Revenge?

I wanted to like this book. I REALLY wanted to.

I believe in the premise, and this the teaching needs to be made. However, the author’s personal offenses and frustrations with the main villain (Bill Hybels,) (who I agree is a bad guy) were tedious and excessive.
It’ supposed to be a book about good church culture, it’s really just a book bashing all the pastors who lead bad church cultures. It’s an excuse to drag individuals through the mud under the guise of righteous guidance.

(The author would probably call my perspective gas lighting, so let me clarify- I’m a woman, who has been hurt by leadership and am trying to forgive)

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  • Mom of Four
  • 29-08-2021

Overall, this book is Tov!

Overall, this book is good!
There is so much good in this book, you have to read it for yourself. Really. Whether you are part of a conventional church setting or a home church setting.
A couple of things, in my view, could/should further be said. The author praised seminary as a tried and true necessary element for qualifying a leader. I don't agree. It can be useful, but so can free in-home, in-depth study of God's Word.
Also, he could use to elaborate on the dangers and damages that seminary-to-paid- pastor has done to promote a breeding ground for hirelings and wolves. So much more needs to be said about this harmful tradition of men.

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  • Seth Kurtz
  • 26-06-2021

Mostly good

I honestly did enjoy this book. I understand what Scot came out of with Willow Creek because I came out of something very similar. While there is loads of good content, such as the desire for empowering people to see all people simply as image bearers, I also see what concerns me to possibly be throwing out the baby with the bath water. I think there are many things he warns against that can be good. So I say read this book and read it with an open mind. There are many different churches because the body of Christ is full of unique individuals who will reach people uniquely. I do not believe there is a one size fits all approach for the church. Other than, as Scot concludes, Christ-likeness.

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  • Robert
  • 15-08-2022

Great Resource

This is an amazing book that helps people through non-tov church experiences and helps guide church pastors and elders toward becoming a tov church. I only wish I had read this years ago!

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  • Malval
  • 19-06-2022

Tov - Good

This is a book that covers all potential harms of the abuse of powers in a church. As the shift from Christ centered foundations move to corporate foundations within the church it reveals a call for “leadership” rather than pastoral guiding and growing within God’s truth in love and grace. There are many real examples within this book of how humans have fallen away from God’s intentions for the Body of Christ.

It is very worthy of your time to consider listening or reading this book and discussing it with your friends. To further your action, I’d even suggest praying and contemplating how this may apply to your church, and, further, how you can be an active participant in being TOV to grow TOV. It takes only one willing to plant the seed to grow the roots. Everyone’s actions and participation matters.

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  • anthony long
  • 03-06-2022

We need churches called tov

Every person who claims to be a Christian will benefit from reading this book. What could be called simple truths and actions are often so desperately lost in today’s church. This book gives me hope for the body of Christ! Please do not just read it but evaluate yourself and your church through tov lens then share the book with the people in your circles. We need churches called tov!

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  • Jennifer Trautmann
  • 02-04-2022

This should be a text book in every seminary

This book is absolutely helpful as it both truth tells the flags unhealthy church culture but also remains adamant in the Churches redemptive power. It is a must ready for every pastor.

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  • Mr. A. Boakye
  • 07-02-2022

Incisive, honest and powerful.

A masterful survey! Scott and Laura speak as those who have seen the issues from the inside, and wrestled through them with humility and godlibess.

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  • Mr. I. Simmonds
  • 02-01-2022

If you put this in a word cloud TOV would come out

On top. Useful hard hitting and spookily reminiscent of my own experience in church in many ways. It is helpful in addressing ways to improve culture. Generally - look to Christ. Bless you

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  • Andy
  • 15-06-2021

An interesting look at a Challenging issue

The authors take a broad view of some very tricky issues. They suggest ways in which these toxic situations can be avoided and suggest better ways of dealing with difficult situations.

In the spirit of reconciliation, Audible Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.