Radiant Church: Restoring the Credibility of Our Witness, By Tara Beth Leach alt

Radiant Church

Restoring the Credibility of Our Witness

by Tara Beth Leach

Radiant Church
  • Length: 216 pages
  • Dimensions: 0 × 0 in
  • Published: February 16, 2021
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 4763
  • ISBN: 9780830847631

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Outreach Resource of the Year

Something is not right. The witness of the church in North America is eroding. Many Christians are alarmed by the decline in church attendance and seek a culprit. Too often, we point the finger away from the church, make culture the enemy, and build walls between us and others. But our antagonism and enemy-making are toxins that further eat away at our witness. Is there a better way?

Tara Beth Leach could easily be one of those millennials giving up on the church. Instead, she is a pastor who loves the church and is paradoxically hopeful for its future. In an era where the church has lost much of its credibility, Leach casts a radiant vision for Christians to rediscover a robust, attractive witness. We need to name the toxic soil we've grown in, repent for past wrongs, and lean into a better way to become the church that Jesus proclaimed we would be.

Leach casts down idolatrous false images of God to recover a winsome picture of a kingdom of abundance and goodness. We can be sustained by practices that will tune our hearts to God's and form us into the radiant communities God intends for us and those around us.

"Tara Beth Leach is woman who fell in love with Jesus as a teen and has only fallen deeper in love. As a pastor, she is a prophetic voice for God. In Radiant Church she deploys that voice, as only a prophet can, to call the church back to the heart of God. Tara Beth reminds us of who we are, how God sees us, and how we can be a more loving, thoughtful, a more gracious people in the world. She reminds us that the church is a unique beauty, a radiant beauty."

Sean Palmer, author of Forty Days on Being a Three, teaching pastor at Ecclesia Houston

"In her customarily personal and pastoral manner, Tara Beth provides a clear and compelling glimpse of the church Jesus loves so dearly. When the light seems to have grown dim, she helps us notice the radiance within and how we can be bearers of this radiant good news. If you're about to give up on the church, wait. Read this first. And don't be surprised if you begin to be drawn in by the beautiful and robust vision of Jesus' church for the first time, again."

J.R. Briggs, author of The Sacred Overlap and founder of Kairos Partnerships

"Radiance is not a common term for Christian theology, and it is often ignored in ecclesiology, but Tara Beth has rescued this term and made it central. The church is radiant—like a bride—when Jesus is central, when God's kingdom work forms a church, and when all its habits, practices, and virtues emerge from the Spirit who radiates the presence of Christ through each of us as we together embody the gospel about our radiant Lord. Here is a pastor who loves the church emoting her love for what Christ wants for the church."

Scot McKnight, author of The Jesus Creed and professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary

"Racism, sexism, and many other injustices plague our world and corrupt our Christian witness. Tara Beth Leach confronts this darkness with the transformative good news of Jesus Christ. She doesn't talk down to us; she walks with us in a journey from lament, to repentance, to radiant living. Radiant Church is for any individual or group looking to refine and rejuvenate their witness in a climate of love, grace, and kindness."

Douglas S. Bursch, pastor of Evergreen Church and author of Posting Peace

"Pointing out the problems with the white evangelical church is easy. Showing the church how to draw on the abundant grace of God so we can live emboldened, empowered, and radiant lives, well, that's much more difficult. But that's exactly the task Tara Beth Leach sets for herself with this exuberant, thoughtful, and inspiring book. Written by a pastor who loves the church, Radiant Church is comforting and challenging in equal measure."

Michael Frost, author of Surprise the World and The Shaping of Things to Come

"Tara Beth Leach is one of the most radiant leaders I know! In the pages of Radiant Church she helps us properly lament issues of church life needing renovation. She then guides us forward to being a church in the radiant image of Jesus. I want to follow where she leads."

Todd Hunter, bishop, Churches for the Sake of Others, author of Giving Church Another Chance

"The ability to simultaneously comfort and confront is rare, and this is exactly what Tara Beth Leach offers us in Radiant Church. With the evangelical church lingering at several cultural crossroads, many pastors and church leaders find themselves searching for a way forward. In our most honest moments, we find ourselves lacking conviction, fearful of a wrong step, and deeply anxious as we face an increasingly uncertain future. Leach offers us prophetic insight and pastoral conviction as she skillfully guides us across the landscape of our precarious present and leads us toward a new vision for the future, bright, bold, and teeming with possibility."

Jay Y. Kim, pastor and author of Analog Church

"Like an experienced midwife, Tara Beth Leach leads us through the birth pangs of becoming the church that is to come. Not content to survive, she speaks words of encouragement to help a church flourish through these disruptive times. Anyone who has lived the tumultuous years of American church life these past few decades will find Radiant Church a calming wave of the Spirit preparing us all for the new day to come."

David Fitch, B. R. Lindner Chair of Evangelical Theology at Northern Seminary in Chicago

"No doubt about it, Christianity has a bad reputation problem in the USA. But that is not how it is supposed to be. The Scriptures offer us a vocation: to be people who bear the loving light of God. In Radiant Church, Tara Beth Leach does something radical: she looks to Jesus first, the light of the world in human flesh. Jesus calls us to know him and live like him in such a way that radical love should be what we are known for, not bigotry, hypocrisy, patriarchy, polarization, racism, political ideology, or any other negatively loaded label. Rather than watering down the Bible to make Christianity more palatable for our culture, she invites us to drink deeply of its story, to become people known for radiating God's beauty and goodness to our world. Read this prophetic book, and let's take up the abundant resources of Jesus together so we can put his vision of a Radiant Church on full display."

Kurt Willems, pastor, podcaster, and author of Echoing Hope: How the Humanity of Jesus Redeems our Pain

"Our friend Tara Beth nails it in Radiant Church. Something is deeply wrong in the prevailing understanding and experience of the contemporary evangelical church. We are called to a credible, indeed a radiant witness. But to get there, things need to change. Tara brings her compassionate and prophetic voice to bear in ushering in hope and possibility for the way forward. Well done!"

Alan and Deb Hirsch, authors and missional leaders, founders of Forge Mission Training Network

"Radiant Church is a brilliantly written challenge to become a church that beautifully reflects Jesus to a hurting and hopeless world. Tara Beth Leach smartly gives us a vision of a church that radiantly shines, while she also presents practical steps for becoming a pure and active people. I strongly encourage you to read Radiant Church and catch a glimpse of the church God meant us to be!"

Dave Ferguson, lead pastor of Community Christian Church, Naperville, Illinois, and author of B.L.E.S.S.: 5 Everyday Ways to Love Your Neighbor and Change the World

"In Radiant Church, Tara Beth Leach writes pastorally and prophetically about the state of the White evangelical church in America. This is a gutsy book. Leach beckons us to follow Jesus that we might become radiant, shining stars, alluring—no matter the cost. Easy, right? Wrong. In the US at least, it seems like Christians seeking to follow Jesus are often targeted and lampooned by other Christians. Even so, Leach encourages us to move forward through repentance and by allowing the light of Christ to radiate out from us. What makes this book especially strong is that Pastor Leach practices what she preaches. It's not mere talk. And therefore, it's exceedingly refreshing. She has provided an example worthy of imitation because she has counted the cost of following Jesus within the church. May we do the same!"

Marlena Graves, author of The Way Up Is Down: Becoming Yourself by Forgetting Yourself

"Tara Beth loves the church enough to tell us the truth—the truth about our condition and our calling, the truth of God's mercy and of our mission. As a shepherd who has suffered blows both for the flock and from them, she writes with honesty and hope. Her theological insight and pastoral instincts are on display in this timely message for Christians and leaders today."

Glenn Packiam, associate senior pastor of New Life Church, Colorado Springs, and author of Worship and the World to Come

"Tara Beth Leach believes in and deeply loves the church; she also knows that something has gone seriously wrong within much of the American church. In Radiant Church we find a prophetic critique of our various American idolatries, but one that avoids embittered cynicism. Throughout Radiant Church, the passion Tara Beth Leach has for Jesus Christ shines in every chapter. May this book help the American church return to its first love."

Brian Zahnd, founding pastor of Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, Missouri, and author of Postcards from Babylon

"Word on the street is that the lights on the church are going out. Our codependent bond with national politics, corporate success strategies, and cultural power has dimmed the witness of God's people. Is there a way to recover the bright beauty that is the church? Radiant Church pulls back the curtain ever so gently to expose our mission drift, but it doesn't stop there. Tara Beth Leach offers us illuminating and inviting ways to recover our light. Part manifesto, part vulnerable confession, this brilliant work is beckoning us to step forward into the blazing possibilities. Thank you, Tara Beth, for this brave gift to the community of Christ."

Dan White Jr., author of Love Over Fear and cofounder of the KINEO Center

"With piercing prophetic insight and a bold and crystal-clear voice, Tara Beth Leach calls out the many ways in which the church in America fundamentally conflicts with the radiant kingdom movement Jesus inaugurated. Yet as accurate and compelling as Tara Beth's critique of the church is, Radiant Church is one of the most inspired and hope-filled books I've ever read. Whether you need your eyes opened to see how thoroughly the American church is missing the mark, or you need to regain some hope because you already see how thoroughly it's missing the mark—and I suspect that covers the majority of American Christians—you should consider Radiant Church a must-read!"

Greg Boyd, senior pastor, Woodland Hills Church, and author of Cross Vision

"In case you've missed it, long-standing expressions of evangelicalism, those more reflective of the assumptions and characteristics of worldly power structures than the ways of Jesus and his kingdom, are being exposed and decried. This is difficult yet necessary work. It requires patience, discernment, and spiritual integrity on the part of church leaders. Tara Beth Leach is a wonderful example of such leadership, and Radiant Church is precisely the sort of book that helps us not only see and name the realities that have compromised our witness, but gives us a vision for a better, more faithful way forward."

JR Rozko, executive director, the Telos Collective

"Tara Beth is a faithful and personable guide, bravely naming and unmasking some of the powers that have captivated White evangelicalism. We are captive to imitation, but there is only One who turns imitation into freedom and human flourishing. Tara Beth, through word and example, calls us to imitate the radiant One so that we might live into our collective radiance and be billboards of new creation."

JR Woodward, national director, the V3 Movement, author of Creating a Missional Culture

"Radiant Church exudes a love for Christ and the church through every page. The fruit is a biblical vision of the church, not located in large auditoriums or in the personhood of a charismatic leader but rather through what happens when the church seeks to be faithfully rooted in the right story. Through a clear and compelling look at how the evangelical church has largely failed in its witness, Tara brings forth a preview, along with practices and a prophetic affirmation, pointing to what happens when the church reclaims its true light. Indeed, if the church follows this repentant path, the world will behold the silhouette of Christ through a transformative witness."

José Humphreys, pastor, Metro Hope Covenant Church, New York, author of Seeing Jesus in East Harlem

"I've had the privilege of being in the room when Tara Beth Leach talks about the church. She herself is radiant, not only describing but embodying the radiant beauty of the bride of Christ. It makes us want to see what she sees and love what she loves. Radiant Church draws us into that vision, being honest about what is broken in the church and at the same time lovingly reminding the weary church of her true character and mission."

Mandy Smith, pastor and author of The Vulnerable Pastor

Read an Excerpt


Introduction: A Dim Light
1. The Call to Radiance
2. The Radiant Story
3. The Radiant Vision of Jesus
4. The Radiant King and Kingdom
5. The Radiant Witness
6. The Radiant Partnership
7. Radiant Evangelism
8. Radiant Practices
9. The Radiant Future



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Tara Beth Leach

Tara Beth Leach is a pastor at Good Shepherd Church in Naperville, Illinois. She previously served at First Church of the Nazarene of Pasadena ("PazNaz") in Southern California and Christ Church of Oak Brook in the western suburbs of Chicago. She is a graduate of Olivet Nazarene University and Northern Theological Seminary. Tara Beth is a regular writer for Missio Alliance and writes and speaks widely about women in ministry and church leadership