Multi-Voiced Church is a new book by Stuart and Sian Murray Williams. It is a very good book, a very helpful book, a very accesible book and as such deserves a wide readership. Written in a similar format to Stuart Murray William's Post Christendom and Church After Christendom, it says what it is - here a multi-voiced church; why and how it was lost; and how it can be recovered, in lots of different practical ways. The basic argument is that the early church was a multi-voiced community - an active congregation - which during Christendom became increasingly mono-voiced - pastor/priest dominated and so a passive congregation - and therefore we need to re-balance church life again to be more multi-voiced in worship and preaching, discipleship and in decision-making.
I do think re-balance is the right word, as I would argue still for the importance and necessity of ordained ministry in the church, but not to the extent that this excludes the ministry of the church as a whole.
Stuart and Sian say the book emerged in part out of the work of Eleanor and Alan Kreider (see their Worship and Mission After Christendom, especially chapters six and seven), but also the conversations within the Anabaptist network and amongst the ministerial students Sian has taught at Bristol. It is thus a multi-voiced book!
The practical chapters, that follow the historical introduction, are packed full of ideas and suggestions for encouraging and enabling the church's worship, learning, community discipleship and decision-making to be more multi-voiced, and more Baptist (for those of us in that tradition).
I've asked the deacons in the church where I serve to read it over the summer and I'm looking forward to some positive discussions in the autumn and hopefully the beginnings of a more multi-voiced church.
Get a copy, read it, share it with your church. You will not be disappointed.