God's Church My Place

What it means to belong to a Christian community

Steve Tilley

Currently out of print £6.99

There are many books on what it means to be a church leader but here at last is one on what it means to be a church member! Lively and thought-provoking.
Mike Starkey, author of Ministry Rediscovered


Do church members know what is required of them?

Many books are published each year resourcing ministers to lead church, but how many books are written to help the followers understand their basic role in the church family?

In an age when the church struggles to be seen as relevant, leaders are overworked and burning out, and Christians leave the church because they feel unwelcome, Tilley presents this light, easy-to-read guide for church members to examine themselves and their responsibility.

Tilly's approach is gracious and humorous but the message is all too clear: first impressions count and, if the impression falls short, then expect bad press and don't think you can go on blaming the leader!

That is why I've written this book... How do you - as a member, not a leader - make sure any visitor to your church meeting, any newcomer to your local community, any enquirer into faith, gets the best possible experience of local Christianity?

Tilley works through the issues of worship, prayer, the point of the sermon, disagreements with other church members, church structure, visitors to church, service and the precarious state of coffee in many churches!

In the past, Tilley has described himself as 'The Acquired Taste Vicar', reflecting his blunt and honest approach. This book does not disappoint in carrying forward that approach. But it should not be mistaken as a grumpy old vicar rant! Tilley is aware of his responsibility, and his call for a shake-up is rooted in Paul's letters to Ephesus and Colosse, with a dip into the letters to churches in Revelation. He concludes with the warning that changing your church will, without doubt, involve changing you. He includes himself in that charge!

The author writes...

In all the many words written about belonging to a church, there is often an overemphasis on leadership. What about membership? What is required of someone who simply wants to learn what it means to be part of a church without any aspirations of leadership? If that's you, welcome aboard my hobby-horse. The metaphors may get a bit mixed but there's no need to strap yourself in. We will go slowly and tread carefully.

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There are many books on what it means to be a church leader but here at last is one on what it means to be a church member! Lively and thought-provoking.
Mike Starkey, author of Ministry Rediscovered

Author info

Steve Tilley is a Church of England clergyman in Somerset. He particularly enjoys helping small groups of people to get to grips with the Bible. In his spare time he writes short stories, entertains as lavishly as possible and has a weird addiction to killer sudokus. He blogs at http://stevetilley.blogspot.com.


Having got to a point in my church life where I felt I was 'going through the motions' I stepped down from all my responsibilities, and picked up Steve Tilley's book.

His sense of humour is quirky and highly appropriate for getting his point across. Although he speaks from an Anglican viewpoint I, (non - Anglican) felt he spoke equally of my church setting. The thought provoking quotes and questions after each chapter were very challenging and helpful. This book should appeal to people like me who are searching for answers, and it would make a great small group study - if people are prepared to be honest and open about their church. Not recommended for those wearing rose-tinted glasses when looking at their own church, or for those who don't do change.

Sally Winsor

From The Church Times - February 2013

As the church continues to argue about leadership, Steve Tilley offers a refreshing take on what it means to be led. In church life, we talk a great deal about shepherds, but not so much about being one of the flock. Membership of the Church, Tilley says, carries responsibilities and delights. We are steered away from a consumer-based approach to church, and instead we are reminded of that all-too-forgotten reality, that we are the Church. To find our place in the Church, we have to be active participants rather than passive observers. Sometimes, we just have to get stuck in and give ourselves to Christ and his Church rather than sit back and let someone else do it for us.

This is a book about "every-member ministry" in every sense, and appropriate reading for those new to the culture of church, and those who are long-standing members. Tilley recognises that he has to tread carefully in this book, as he is both ordained and a church leader; but his honesty and humour shine through, and, as a result, he addresses many pertinent questions, including conflict, power, collaboration, the state of church coffee, how to listen to a sermon, and what to do if the church is ruining your faith.

The tone of the book is conversational and easy to read, with plenty of anecdotes. Each chapter is infused with biblical connections, and concludes with a pause for thought, discussion questions, and a prayer. Chapter One sets out with a reflection on "What is church?", and alludes to contemporary ecclesial issues that affect the clergy and laity alike: decline, mission, and relevance to contemporary society; and the book ends with a challenge: to change the Church, we have to change and be changed. Tilley also acknowledges that the problem in many churches is the clerical culture, which so many congregations cling to, and which the clergy tend to promote. It seems that it is the responsibility of those who are being led to stand up and challenge the old assumption of "Father knows best" with a cry of "We're all in this together; so please listen to us." Consequently, it is a sobering read for church leaders. This unassuming book would be ideal for Lent study-groups, house groups, post-enquirer courses, parish ministry teams, and anyone new to church and churchgoing who wants to know how to develop the part that he or she plays in the church community. But clerics should be wary: letting your congregation read this book could be dynamite, and could certainly change the way you lead, and the kind of leader you are.

The Revd Dr Victoria Johnson is Priest-in-Charge of St Michael's, Flixton, Manchester

From The Good Bookstall - July 2012

This is a timely, insightful, enjoyable and challenging book to read. It's style is richly entertaining and fluid as it looks into what being a part of the Christian community, and going to church, is really all about, looking at it from many points of view and not least looking at it from within a biblical context too. It addresses things like should you choose your church or service solely on the basis of the music played there? How do you enliven your church? How not to be a leader and many more subjects that are relevant to how we actively live out being a church community. Given the author is a Church of England clergyman the main focus is based on more mainstream denominational congregations, however he does not overlook the fact that there are other denominations and actively tries to highlight the similarities along with the difference, after all being part of a community has a commonality about it regardless of denominational style or church building (or school!) used to meet in.

At the end of each chapter there is a pause for thought, discussion questions and a short prayer, thus making this book a really good basis for a church study - and what a great church activity working on this book would be - but equally it makes a really good thought provoking read just for an individual too.

Reviewed by Melanie Carroll

Book details

  • ISBN: 9780857460110
  • Published: 22 June 2012
  • Status:
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 144
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