Tragically, in recent years, Christians have gotten used to revelations of abuses of many kinds in our most respected churches.
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.
Scot McKnight, a New Testament scholar who has written widely on the historical Jesus and Christian spirituality, is a Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Cornerstone University, a master's from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and a doctorate from the University of Nottingham. He has written more than 80 books, including the popular The Jesus Creed, which won an award from Christianity Today in 2004. You can read more from Scot at Substack and his blog, Jesus Creed.
Laura Barringer is an outspoken advocate for the wounded resisters of institutional abuse. Laura is coauthor of A Church Called Tov: Forming a Goodness Culture That Resists Abuses of Power and Promotes Healing. Laura is a curriculum writer for Grow Kids, a ministry of Stuff You Can Use. She previously coauthored the children's version of The Jesus Creed and wrote a teacher's guide to accompany the book. She published articles for The Jesus Creed and The Englewood Review of Books, and her writing has featured in Church Leaders, The Roys Report, and Converge Summit. Laura is a graduate of Wheaton College.
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Endorsements of A Church Called Tov
One of the questions I'm frequently asked is how to find a good church. I appreciate the inquiry every time because I believe strongly in the church. I'm so grateful to God for Scot McKnight and Laura Barringer because they do an amazing job of teaching us what a good one looks like in A Church Called Tov.
Beth Moore, American evangelist, author, and Bible teacher
A Church Called Tov is a map for anyone who cares about how the church can reflect the goodness and heart of God.
Ann Voskamp, New York Times bestselling author of One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are
What a theologically savvy and empathy-embracing book for today’s church! Reading A Church Called Tov reminded me of why I love the church, and how that affection can also mean telling the truth about her missteps and broken pieces. In a world of high profile failures and scandals, this book offers a prophetic reimagining of the Acts 2 church. It is hopeful, relevant, and encouraging.
Mary DeMuth, Author of We Too: How the Church Can Respond Redemptively to the Sexual Abuse Crisis
If the church is going to become what she was designed to be, women must be at equal places of responsibility, authority, and influence in all spaces. If there has ever been a time to write a better story—a tov story—it is now! The broken stories in this book offer a beautiful transformational pathway forward. I wish this book weren’t necessary, but it is imperative for leaders committed to integrity and creating a better future.
April Diaz, Founder Ezer + Company
A Church Called Tov is a desperately needed book, full of eye-opening truths. The church is supposed to be, and can be, a place of goodness, not toxicity. Scot and Laura help us discern the difference. It is clear they have seen and understand both sides and therefore can serve as guides to help us see what is good and avoid what is evil. I hope this work spreads through every church.
Wade Mullen, author of Something's Not Right
This profoundly important book addresses the problem of toxic church culture and shows how we change it. It is brave, thoughtful, and transformational. The answers it offers are woven around the key Hebrew word tov, which means good—and so much more. If you have been wounded by your experience of church, you should read this book. If you cannot imagine how church wounds people, you should read this book. It is profound, compassionate, and—sadly—timely.
Paula Gooder, New Testament Scholar and Canon Chancellor of St. Paul's Cathedral, London
In a time when scores of people who grew up in the church are walking away wounded, disillusioned, and understandably cynical about a culture that seldom reflects the Jesus it claims to love and follow, Scot McKnight brings us much-needed hope. He does this by helping the reader diagnose and explain what creates and fosters the toxicity that is so pervasive within our modern Christian culture. Fortunately, Scot doesn’t stop there. He follows up his diagnosis with an informed and practical wisdom that empowers and equips us cynics to understand how the church can actually become what it was created to be . . . the community of true health, safe refuge, and genuine hope for the weary and the wounded. In other words, the reflection of the Jesus. I’m grateful that A Church Called Tov helped me begin deconstructing my own cynicism about the church. Baby steps forward. Thanks, Scot!
Boz Tchividjian, victim rights attorney and founder of GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment)
It is tragic that a book like this has to be written. However, if good can come of tragedy, this book is a testimony to that. In this volume, Scot and Laura have given the church a way of identifying, naming, and addressing toxic church cultures with a view to retraining our thinking to create cultures of goodness and healthy churches. It is full of wisdom, insight, and truthful exegesis which brings its own light. It is a gift to leaders, pastors in training, and importantly, victims of abuse who desperately need champions. In my view, this should be essential reading for anyone who has any leadership responsibility in a church.
Lucy Peppiatt, principal, Westminster Theological Centre, Cheltenham, UK