Book Review: Scattered Servants

Scattered Servants Alan Scott Book Review

Alan Scott has had influence on my life since 2012, when I heard him speak at The Cause to Live For, a Vineyard UK and Ireland conference. At the time, he and his wife Kathryn were leading Causeway Coast Vineyard in Northern Ireland, home of the Healing on the Streets movement, and a place where God seems to be up to something. Recently, they’ve moved to LA, to pastor the Anaheim Vineyard, and in the interim period, Alan had this book published.

Scattered Servants is a brilliant, readable book, with one very simple idea at it’s heart: what if the church didn’t exist to be a lovely club, but instead to partner with God in stepping out into the city (or village, town, or whatever) to bring the life of Jesus and the gospel of the kingdom of God to a hurting world? This simple thesis is illustrated by dozens of beautiful, real and inspiring stories – and supported by some deceptively straightforward observations about culture and a deep love for the Bible. This call is not easy, though, and a key element of what can happen in the market place is what happens in the secret place: “Invest in people’s lives through prayer and fasting“.

This book is readable by everyone – and certainly shouldn’t be restricted to leaders and pastors. Alan’s enthusiasm for the gospel and practical explanation of how we can just get on with the great commission is delivered in language that whilst theologically simple, tugs at both heart and mind with a concern for the lost. This is a very ‘Vineyard’ book in terms of the themes of mercy, justice, and ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit – but also in it’s love for the whole church, and a constant insistence that the point is not building any one brand of church, but seeing God’s Kingdom come, His will be done, and His children come home. A particular encouragement/challenge to many models of contemporary church is the way in which children and young people are inspired to ‘do the stuff’, often showing adults the way!

One of the truly beautiful aspects of this book is the kind of understanding of the Kingdom of God that underpins it. This is not some militant falsehood or pietistic legalism, but an understanding that makes sense of the whole of Jesus’ message. Scott writes “The kingdom advances as we release compassion, not as we take dominion. We come not to take over our cities, but to lay our lives down“. Compassion is key – and is beautifully explored and expounded and explained here. Again, this emphasis on explanation is interesting, and refreshing in a culture of instant fixes and ‘fresh anointing’, as Scott writes “We don’t need more impartation, we need more insight into what we already have“. One example of this that resonated with me – and I think would resonate with many pastors and people who’ve been in churches for a long time, is the call to be faithful in the small, “rejoice in the small. Rejoice in it even though you long to see more“. This is not a complicated book – but it is a faithful one.

When I was younger and when I was a young Christian, I used to devour missionary biographies. Hudson Taylor. David Livingston. My favourite was Jackie Pullinger’s classic Chasing the Dragon. Reading this book was like that. Except it wasn’t about the author but a myriad of ordinary saints that the title suggests. If you want to understand something of the heart of the Vineyard movement as an equipping, missional church family, Scattered Servants would be a great place to start. If you feel a bit burnt out, and in need of refreshment, Scattered Servants offers a wonderful blend of stories and ideas, a book to refresh and recharge with. 

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