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Vertical Church: What Every Heart Longs For. What Every Church Can Be.

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  537 Ratings  ·  59 Reviews
If you want to experience God as you never have before and witness His hand at work, if you want to wake up to the first thought, "Thank God it's Sunday," if you're ready to feel your heart beat faster as you drive to your place of worship ... then devour and digest the lessons of "Vertical Church."
ebook, 288 pages
Published August 1st 2012 by David C Cook (first published July 9th 2012)
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Sep 03, 2012 Mathew rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
What I loved about Vertical Church was MacDonald’s emphasis on the glory of God. That theme ran through out the book and for that alone the book was worth reading (p. 300).

I also found his counter-emphasis on the sameness of mankind in its desire for eternity and God refreshing. It’s a necessary balance to the over-contextualization that happens today. Says MacDonald,

We are taught to study out culture and contextualize the message to fit the uniqueness of the mass we seek to minister to. . . .
Renada Thompson
Aug 19, 2012 Renada Thompson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of underlining and corner folding, especially in the chapters on witness and prayer. A few key passages:

"The power of the gospel is not in the relational capacity of the witness but in the message itself." (p. 247)

(in response to a crisis) "I prayed only for the reputation of Christ to be protected and extended." (p. 292)

"It's self-deception to believe there is a true faithfulness apart from visible fruit; a barren tree is not an upgrade to trees with bad fruit." (p. 152)

"Boldness is simply
The first chapters on God's Glory are awesome. I cannot stress that enough. However, I wish I could just recommend parts of this book, because the whole of it was disappointing.

The first chapters are gold. Very profound. Convicting. Majestic. Relevant. I'd argue they're even useful to share with people who do not know Jesus as a starting place for a discussion about God. Also, lots of great illustrations to borrow in this book if you preach. I found that parts of the chapter on preaching was qu
Jeff Elliott
Jul 25, 2012 Jeff Elliott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: devotional, ministry
I have not yet finished the book but I have to say "Wow". This is the book I have been waiting for. It's due at the library tomorrow but I must purchase this book. I could not begin to type in all the meaningful sections in this book in the review. This book is the first of many church books I have read that doesn't make me feel inferior because I pastor a smaller church. It doesn't make me think, "If I just did this if would be better". It helps me to focus on the correct things. This review wi ...more
Zac George
This one was kind of a mixed bag.

Overall I really liked the first half. MacDonald's main thesis is that much of the local church has lost sight of the point of church: revealing God's glory. By attempting to appeal to the masses in (at best) ridiculously misguided ways, church has become a sideshow with no point. All of this I agreed with wholeheartedly, and it really influenced the way I think about church and where I'm seeing this (and not seeing this) in my own church.

The second half, where i
I started this book because the church leaders and pastors talked so highly of it. My church is also doing a series on it coming up so I thought it would be good to have a full understanding as we go into it. I did not finish the book but on what I read is why I gave it 2 stars. James McDonald is a good guy and his church is doing amazing things. However, I found his book to be exactly what he said it was attempting not to be, another fad to promote growth. Throughout the book it seemed to me th ...more
Nov 01, 2012 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book started slow - first couple of chapters. The focus on the mission of the church being the the place where the Lord is glorified is on the mark. The church is about the Lord. It has a sense of exclusivity as to the place to find the church aligned with the God's purpose - Harvest Church - it is a very obvious promotion of this model - one must be prepared to see beyond this to be challenged Biblically!!
Jun 12, 2012 Jeanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was excited to read this book because of my own journey with the Lord and how I love the church. This is not about a better way but the only way. It is not about styles of worship, but about worshipping in spirit and in truth. Many of us may have experienced many things when it comes to the church, some good and wonderful and some ugly and hurtful. However, that being said, I realize I am part of the good and the ugly and because there is ugly and we are sinners, this reasonated with me becaus ...more
Dan George
Oct 23, 2012 Dan George rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have been anticipating the release of the "Vertical Church" book. I was not disappointed. This book delivered what I thought was coming and goes well beyond that. I found myself nodding my head in agreement, occasionally setting the book down to think through what I just read, encouraged by what I read (because I see it in our church) and convicted with a greater sense of responsibility and urgency in the ministry roles the church and God have entrusted to me. And that has me praying more, ack ...more
Gail Welborn
Sep 26, 2012 Gail Welborn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
James MacDonald, founding Senior Pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in Illinois wants worshipers, churches and leadership to experience Holy Spirit power and God’s glory during worship. Yet that isn’t a common church experience, although MacDonald says it is at Harvest Chapel in his new book, “Vertical Church.” There he shares his “…twenty-five-year try-fail-try again pursuit of that single goal—to experience God’s glory…” in church.

MacDonald’s search for God’s “manifest presence” began with a “…st
Jonathan Brooker
While there were certainly sections of this book that I liked, and bits and pieces that challenged or encouraged me, overall I don't think it was that good. The writing isn't terribly strong. The arguments are oftentimes built off the author's personal preference but then made to be like the established standard. And for that matter, you can only self-depreciate so much before it starts seeming a little like false humility. And we got past that point in this book.

As other commentators have noted
Jul 21, 2016 Jacey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I admired the writer's passion and ardent desire to see God's glory revealed through the Church.

Unfortunately, I think his credibility was drowned out by sarcasm and corny examples. I found his tone and writing style distracting, and would not have finished the book had not a trusted friend suggest I read it for personal edification on the concept of "vertical church."

I'm glad I did finish, because some of the book's best and clearest substance came toward the end. I think the book would pack a
Nov 21, 2014 Bob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent, well written, thought provoking with a string desire to honor Christ & the Word in every chapter. The author asks hard & difficult questions & does not answer them the way many church growth books answer them, his goal is to honor Christ not build his own kingdom. Some of this I knew & it's disturbing, 6,000 churches close their doors every year, 3,500 people leave the church every day, & less than 20% of American attend church regularly.
Here is a quote I love fro
Jaison Abraham
I find the first half of the book very good. The emphasis on God's glory and especially the teaching that all are fundamentally the same with respect to their need for the Gospel. Dr. MacDonald hits the nail right on the head. However, it then gets pretty strange. There are a lot of checklists about how to tell if your church is good. A lot of the second half book has to do with the authors personal strife with certain groups of people. Overall, I would pass, as other books I've read are more di ...more
Mar 22, 2013 Jonathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
With james macdonald books, i usually listen to the sermons, and then read the books. James is such an incredible speaker, i tend to find the books lacking. The ideas are incredible, but the writing leaves a little to be desired. With Vertical Church, i did not listen to the sermon series. This hurt a little because i did not have the background that i did on other books. The ideas are still solid, and i think very important to read. I would guess thoughnthat the sermons may be more impactful

Valerie Van Moorsel
i found this book challenging and that is a good thing, if i ever find myself reading this book and bot challenged by its content there is something wrong with me. the last 4 chapter i found extremely interesting and helped me evaluate my "church" experience as to where it stands and where it should stand, as well as what church should be and what it isn't. i found this book challenges you to re-think the concept we grew up with about what church involves and how it is to centre around God and H ...more
Noah W
Oct 16, 2012 Noah W rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book that begins with the author complaining about waking up at 4:30am to climb a volcano for a Hawaiian sunrise already has its' work cut out to gain my favor.

I had return this book before finishing it. I could have flipped through the book and just read the boxed summary statements.

From what I did read the author makes a good, Scripture supported argument for setting priorities for your church.

- This book focuses on the church needing to focus primarily on glorifying God as opposed to entert
Nov 16, 2012 Jody rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took me a little longer to read this book than most. That is not because it was boring but because I would read a section then have to go and think about it before coming back. This book opened my eyes to several things showing both good and bad areas in my own life and church. I would add this book to every pastor's "must read" list as it will challenge you. I don't give 5 star reviews but very very rarely. This book needs 6 stars. It was that good. Take this book and also get MacDonald's au ...more
Jan 10, 2013 Dale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dale by: Pastor Scott
Shelves: miscellaneous
Thought provoking, but did not agree with a few of James MacDonald's points. However, after reading many times in preparation for discussion with other church leaders each month, some earlier points made more sense after reading the complete book and reviewing once more. Still don't agree with some points, but others moved into the 'possible/think more about' side. Book proved to be an excellent discussion starter with the church leaders.

Reading the book provoked me to listen to 'Walk In The Wor
Bob Ayres
May 22, 2013 Bob Ayres rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I have to be honest (as is my tendency), this is one of my least favorite books ever. The best thing about it is the title. His writing style is horrid, reflecting an ego beyond measure. I don't enjoy attacking a book that is intended to glorify God (and by default, an author) but it was painful to push through this book. Again, I'm sure he is a wonderful preacher but I suggest looking elsewhere for a thoughtful, meaningful, theological book. Okay, okay... there were a few good insights and inte ...more
This book refreshed my spirit. It calls for something that has seemed to go missing in current church life, at least in my circles. We love our biblical knowledge, but we don't worship an idea. We worship the living God. The author's term describing "worship from the shoulders up" is apt, I believe. We seem to be so decorous, and yet the worship scenes in the Word of God are not. We need to worship from the heart, and keep our focus on Jesus the Messiah.

I am challenged to bring this emphasis to
Legacy Dad
Aug 16, 2015 Legacy Dad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm biased because I currently attend a Harvest Bible Chapel and I now understand what JMac was talking about throughout this book. Prior to attending a Harvest, I probably would have rated this book differently.

Many modern churches have gotten so caught up in being relevant and hip to our culture, that they have lost sight of their purpose - to serve and glorify God. JMac reminds us that the churches mission is not to put on "Sunday Performances" or make the Gospel easy to swallow for everyone
Sep 06, 2012 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christianity
I've attended Harvest for about 8 years, and that really impacted the way I reacted to this book. When reading similar books by other pastors from other churches, I'd often wonder if what I was hearing really squared with the experience of the congregation. In this case I can say it does, and while Harvest is (of course) not perfect, the sense that God is at work is everywhere... from the weekend services to the small groups. Vertical Church is free from trendy babble and sticks to timeless basi ...more
Rick Leland
Nov 10, 2012 Rick Leland rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that needs to be read by most Christians. The writing style, content, inspiration, conviction factor, life-change opportunities of Vertical Church rate 5 stars.

For me, I visited a Vertical Church as part of my reading experience. Yeah, it was a nice church experience and all of that. But...but it didn't live up to the expectation I derived from reading the book. It was nice--but no Vertical Church glory. I was nice though.

Still, read the book. Buy the book! It's so worth reading.
Karen Kubiak
Jan 21, 2013 Karen Kubiak rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. That's my one-word summary after reading this book.

Like other reviewers, I had to slow myself down with this read. I needed to intentionally pause every few pages in order to digest.

Vertical Church puts a finger right on what is wrong with most Western churches today... and provides practical ideas for how to breathe life back into them by inviting God's glory.

A must read for church professionals, or anyone with a heart for seeing their own church experience new life.

Friends of mine, I h
Thomas Foster Foster
I listened to this book whilst running and found the encouragement to think vertically and bring my attention to greatness of God and experience of his presence with us, very helpful.

I did at times find it a little dated though - the concept of mission as being evangelistic events rather than a more holistic pursuit of every Christian, and the consumerist risks of placing great importance on the 'big' meeting went unchecked.

Overall however, this was a book that checked me - my expectations of
Jason Deuman
Good principles, but a long read

I was really encouraged by the principles of this book. James MacDonald's ministry has had a tremendous impact in their region, and it was very encouraging to read about all that God has done in and through Harvest Bible Fellowship.

The one draw back was that this book felt like it was longer than it needed to be. It could have been trimmed down without losing the strength of the principles.
Sep 29, 2012 Birdie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Are you discouraged with the church? You feel something missing but can't quite put your finger on it? This book is for you! I was desperate to find a Bible preaching church- something that I thought should be easy. In my small town, there was only one and I felt like I was in the 19th century while attending. Why? Because most churches are not VERTICAL!! Don't settle for less! Read this book and you will never view church the same way. Thank God! Give him the Glory!!!!!
Martijn Vsho
May 23, 2016 Martijn Vsho rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: want-to-buy
A challenging book that brings the Christian reader back to what matters most: God and His glory. James MacDonald clearly and simply expresses the need for churches to stop making people their number one priority and instead make God their number one priority. Only when a church seeks God and his glory, will God show up and lives be changed. This is a book for all who long for God and to see him active in their lives.
Ben Smitthimedhin
Finished this in '14 on Audible. First section on the church as the glory of God on display is motivating. James MacDonald believes that people become part of the local church because they want to catch a glimpse of God's glory, so we are cheating the community if we give them anything less. Second section is questionable... MacDonald believes that not raising your hands for worship is doing it wrong.. (paraphrase). 3 stars.
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James MacDonald (D. Min. Phoenix Seminary) is married to his high school sweetheart, Kathy, and both are from Ontario, Canada. He is the father of three grown children, a daughter-in-law, a son-in-law, and grandfather to four amazing grandsons. James’ ministry focuses on the unapologetic proclamation of God’s Word. In 1988, along with a small group of ministry partners, James and Kathy planted Har ...more
More about James MacDonald...

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“The biggest obstacle to making Christ magnificent is the refusal to make yourself small.” 11 likes
“Let God Himself be the main attraction at church again, and let us be tireless in our insistence that church is for God, about God, through God, and to the glory of His great Son.” 9 likes
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