Tag Archives: Tim Chester

A Meal with Jesus by Tim Chester

Chester, Tim.  A Meal with Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community, & Mission Around the Table.  Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2011.  144 pp.  $14.99.  Purchase at Westminster for $10.04.


Tim Chester is becoming the John Piper of the next generation insofar as the output of books are concerned.  He has written and published more than fifteen different works since 2002.  You can view and/or purchase most of them here.  I have reviewed a few of them here.  For those who do not know, Tim is co-director of Porterbrook Network.


Using Luke 7:34 as a springboard, Tim delves into the use of enjoying a meal with friends and family as a means to live a gospel-centered life.  The entire book is rooted in the gospel of Luke with each of the six chapters finding their genesis in six different chapters in the gospel.

Every chapter looks at a specific “Meals as enacted…”  Chapter one is grace–Luke 5.  Luke 7 (chapter two) offers a perspective on meals as community.  Chester finishes with a look at hope, mission, salvation and promise.  Each chapter challenges and exhorts the reader to open up his house and dining table in order to be a blessing to others.  More importantly, one can share the Bread of Life over a meal that would otherwise be ordinary.


After reading A Meal with Jesus you will never view breakfast, lunch, or dinner the same.  Tim expertly shows how we oftentimes use meal time as a means of denying Christ.  He offers keen insight and vivid real-life stories to show how we can redeem our meal time for His glory.  We hear how we should “gather ’round the good stuff” but then wonder why we never seem to be able to do just that.  Chester shows what is lacking and how we can finally have a meaningful meal.

Perhaps the greatest exhortation is not found in the necessity of sharing your table with others (Christian and non-Christian) but more importantly, with your own family.  A disturbing statistic in the book was the reality of how few families partake of a meal together and those that do usually do so with a television on.  A Meal with Jesus will challenge you to communicate about life and Life with everyone who should gather at your table.


Read this book.  I believe the Holy Spirit can use the message contained within to begin a revival within each home if the principles were actually put into practice.  Imagine the ability to share and spread the gospel message while also dining together.  Pastor, you would do well to read this book and then, if the Spirit moves, to begin to change the culture within your local congregation.


Closing the Window by Tim Chester

Chester, Tim.  Closing the Window: Steps to Living Porn Free.  Downer’s Grove: IVP Press, 2010.  160 pp.  $15.00.  Purchase at Westminster Books for $10.05.


Tim Chester is co-leader of the Crowded House, a group of international church planting networks as well as co-author of Total Church. You can read my review of a couple of Tim’s books hereClosing the Window is Tim Chester’s addition to a recent plethora of books dedicated to dealing with the sin of pornography.


Chester has divided his book into 5 chapters with an introduction and conclusion.  The intro gets right down to the point with the title of “Let’s talk about porn.”  This introduction is key as it sets the pace and tempo for the rest of the book.  From here, the reader is challenged to call a spade a spade.  Chapter one helps to show the reader what is really going on in each scene being watched.  More importantly, we are given a “behind the scenes” peek at what goes on in the studio as well as the lives of the “actors” and “actresses.”

Once this foundation is laid, Chester turns our attention to the Lord who alone is able to free you from the sin of pornography.  Chapter two explicitly talks about the beauty of God while chapter three moves the reader toward being freed by the grace of God.  Chapter four exhorts the reader to fight for the faith.  This entails a constant battle in the life of the believer.  Sometimes you will fail, sometimes you will win.  Regardless, as Tim shows us, it is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to fight this battle.

The fifth chapter explains how, as believers, we are freed from sin–specifically, pornography.  What is more, we are freed for the glory of God.  The conclusion helps the reader to tie everything together and begin to win in the battle against porn.


Chester’s no-holds-barred approach to dealing with pornography is refreshing.  His five-key ingredients in the battle against porn are extremely helpful and most beneficial.  He offers insightful and practical advice that is necessary though not often shared in books dealing with porn.  The five key ingredients (without explanation) are:

  • abhorrence of porn
  • adoration of God
  • assurance of grace
  • avoidance of temptation
  • accountability to others

These five key ingredients are explained in much greater detail throughout the book.  I share these with you in the hopes that it would prompt you to read this book and/or get it for someone you know who may struggle with this sin.


Do not read this book without a pen in hand.  You will be writing throughout in the margins and underlining like crazy.  I have said in a previous review regarding Daryl Wingerd’s book, Delivered by Desire, that I recommend it above all other books.  While I still stand by that statement, I do want to qualify it with the addition of Tim Chester’s Closing the Window.  These two books offer hard-hitting advice and exhortation salted with the grace and mercy offered by Christ.  If you have to pick up one copy, I would actually get Closing the Window first and then Delivered by Desire. Regardless, these two resources will quickly become invaluable to your library–trust me.

You Can Change by Tim Chester

Chester, Tim.  You Can Change.  Wheaton:  Crossway Books, 2010.  192 pp.  $15.99.  Purchase at Westminster for $10.55.


Tim Chester is co-leader of the Crowded House, a group of international church planting networks as well as co-author of Total Church.  You can read my review of Total Church hereYou Can Change is aptly subtitled “God’s Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behavior and Negative Emotions.”


I will allow author, Tim Chester offer his video summary of the book.


I love that the book is set up to answer the common questions of the believer. There are ten questions Tim Chester asks. There are ten questions that Tim Chester answers. Convicingly. With Scripture.

At the end of each chapter is a section that includes reflection and a change project. The reflections help the reader to digest what has just been read. The change project aids the reader in actually doing what the change requires.

The end of the book has a Scripture index that is 6 pages long! I draw your attention to this only because of how much Chester draws on the Bible. It is refreshing to read a book on change that is centered on Scripture.

If I have one critique of the book it would be the change projects. This is only because these projects can easily become programmatic thus losing their desired effect. Nonetheless, if they are done properly and with the correct attitude, they can be a useful tool.


In a day when self-help is all the rage,You Can Change, offers a biblical and practical for how we can truly experience change.  Tim Chester’s book would make for an excellent book study in a home group or Sunday School class.

Total Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis

Chester, Tim and Steve Timmis. Total Church: A Radical Reshaping around Gospel and Community. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2008. 224 pp. $15.99. Purchase at Westminster for $10.55.


The authors of this book are also cofounders of a church planting initiative in Sheffield, UK called The Crowded House. The name of that initiative might have doubled as the name of this book. Both men have experience in what they write. Timmis is a former director of Radstock Ministries. There he helped the local church engage in world missions. Chester was a church planter for 15 years. Currently they are serving together as the codirectors of the Porterbrook Network a training and mentoring ministry for church planters.

Summary of Total Church

The book is divided into two parts. The first part is the foundation for the entire book. In it, the authors set out the two key components to the thesis of Total Church. The subtitle of the book shows what these two components are: gospel and community. In this part, Timmis and Chester argue that for a church to be biblical, it must be centered first on the gospel (if Christ was not crucified, buried, raised and ascended, then we have no church). The second focus is that of community. All throughout the book of Acts and the epistles of Paul (as well as the general) we read of a community of believers.

This community is a must in a world that no longer views a Christian as someone who is trustworthy and retainer of the truths found on in “The Book.” Without community, it is so easy to see believers leave the church disenfranchised with fellow believers. Perhaps one of satan’s greatest victories is a lack of community in the local church.

Part two comprises the majority of the book and looks at eleven different areas of “doing church” and how they would be impacted if the gospel and community were central to the local church. Here we see what evangelism and social involvement would look like and how they go hand in hand. Church planting would no longer be a concept approved of but would become a way of life in the local church. Discipleship and Training would not be sought out by young Christians longing to be discipled; rather, they would automatically be discipled and trained without having to sign up for a class. Things like theology and apologetics (seminary or local church?) would be taught.

All of this, plus much more, would ultimately lead to a deeper passion for God. Instead of “doing church” in the form of meetings and administrative work (yes, those have their place in the local church but are not as central as many think), the local church would actually be involved in the community by default. In other words, the content of the local church is the gospel while the context is the community of believers.


While you may not agree with everything the authors have to say, I think the concepts in this book deserve to be looked at and judged in light of Scripture. I would contend that the precepts found in the pages of Total Church are in fact biblical. Thus, I would recommend this book as a mandatory read for any young aspiring pastor. It is even more recommended for those who have a heart for planting churches.

As a matter of church government, I think a third part would have been nice to see that dealt with how best to govern this local body of believers. It is hinted at all throughout the book but never really dealt with explicitly. I realize there are differing opinions on church government, and entering into that debate is not within the parameters of this book, it still would have been nice if they took a stab at showing the infrastructure (humanly speaking) of the local church and how it shapes the duties of the church.

While the subtitle claims “a radical reshaping” of the church, I believe what is at issue is not so much a reshaping as much as it is an issue of sola scriptura. Most churches need to do away with the business and pseudo-business models of church life that focus on administrative work and get back to the heart of what a community of gospel believing sinners should be. In other words, we need to stop doing church in our meetings and offices and be the church doing the work of the gospel in our communities.