From first to last, I ADORED this book. Richly drawn characters, engaging plot, brilliant rendering of an alternative history, and so many beautiful l...moreFrom first to last, I ADORED this book. Richly drawn characters, engaging plot, brilliant rendering of an alternative history, and so many beautiful lines. I can't remember the last time I highlighted this many passages in a work of fiction. (less)
I don't think I'm the intended audience for this book. Halter seems to think he's saying controversial things, but, for me at least, he isn't. I don't...moreI don't think I'm the intended audience for this book. Halter seems to think he's saying controversial things, but, for me at least, he isn't. I don't disagree with his arguments, I just don't find them as shocking or challenging as he seems to think they are. I also disliked the tone of the book, which I found a bit too casual and self-focused.(less)
Thom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger argue that a simple process for making disciples—a process marked by clarity, movement, alignment, and focus—is crucial...moreThom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger argue that a simple process for making disciples—a process marked by clarity, movement, alignment, and focus—is crucial for church vitality and growth; their research indicates that simple churches are more vibrant than complex ones. They make a compelling case for why and how churches can make disciples more effectively through simpler process.
It’s surprising to note their research did not include churches beyond the evangelical church world; why ignore the mainline? Further, the whole notion of a “straightforward” process of discipleship gives the impression that spiritual formation happens in a linear way; I would argue that spiritual growth is not as neat nor as predictable as the authors seem to assume. Additionally, though the authors make it clear that what they are talking about is a process, not a model, it seems that all of their example churches have some very similar understandings of how to incorporate a simple process; I’m left wondering if a simple process could mean something other than a model of worship moving to small groups moving to ministry teams. (less)
I found this to be a very engaging and practical resource to help me think creatively and proactively about what an externally-focused church can look...moreI found this to be a very engaging and practical resource to help me think creatively and proactively about what an externally-focused church can look like and how to move in that direction. The nine missional concepts were accessible yet inspiring, and the leadership challenge at the end of each chapters asked provocative questions that can help congregations really see how these concepts can apply to their own situations. While I found this book to be extremely helpful, and I will continue to refer to it in my ministry, I noticed two glaring weaknesses: one is that the churches Swanson and Rusaw work with (and used in their interviews for this book) all seem to be of one type (conservative and fairly large – at times I found myself wondering how smaller churches could truly pull off some of the initiatives that were being suggested); and secondly, the fact that in 216 pages, only two women were quoted (in the midst of many many quotes from church leaders), and neither of them were church pastors, was disappointing to me. I feel like the writers for this movement speak a lot about moving beyond the church walls, but they don’t seem to move much beyond their own theological walls. (less)
I found this book to be poorly written and weakly documented. The research methods involved in this book were not entirely clear, but it seems the aut...moreI found this book to be poorly written and weakly documented. The research methods involved in this book were not entirely clear, but it seems the authors primarily relied on surveys of a small pool (1000 "church dropouts"), with no indication of how this pool was selected. Though Rainer and Rainer repeatedly hammer home the results of this survey (the top ten reasons young adults leave church), I am unconvinced.
This is not to say I found nothing good in this book (which was required reading for a Doctor of MInistry course). The authors made four points I found compelling (possibly because they confirm what I already believe): 1 - young adults begin the drift away from church while they are still youth, starting around age 16; 2 - the role of the pastor in retaining youth and young adults is key; 3 – one of the most critical ways the pastor connects with youth and young adults is through the sermon; 4 – relationships with other adults in the congregation is also hugely important.
The second half of the book focuses on how to retain young adults - churches need to simplify their structure, deepen their content, raise their expectations (of young adults), and focus beyond their own fellowship. None of this is earth-shattering information, and all of it is said better elsewhere.
For those truly interested in getting a better feel for what's going on with youth and young adults outside the church, I would recommend unChristian by David Kinnaman and Tribal Church by Carol Howard Merritt.(less)
I will admit that I approached this book with a bias against it simply because it used the word "missional" in the title. I'm so tired of trendy, over...moreI will admit that I approached this book with a bias against it simply because it used the word "missional" in the title. I'm so tired of trendy, overhyped concepts, and "missional" is right up there with "emergent" in terms of words everyone is throwing around to sound hip, relevant, and like they know what they are doing. Regardless of my prejudice, I had to read this book for class, and I'm really glad I did.
Up until the last 30 pages or so, I *really* liked this book. At the core of the book - which starts with a great introduction of what they mean by "missional" and what they don't mean("Missional church is not another label for church growth and effectiveness." (32) "Missional church is not a label to describe churches that have developed a clear mission statement with a vision and purpose for their existence." (32) "Missional church is not a way of turning around ineffective and outdated church forms so that they can display relevance in the wider culture." (33) "Missional is not a label describing new formats of church that reach people who have no interest in traditional churches." (33)) - is an argument towards fresh imagination and conversation about how to be the church in our context. Roxburgh and Boren write, "Rather than asking, 'Hw do we attract people to what we are doing?' we need to ask, 'What is God up to in this neighborhood, and how do we need to change in order to engage the people who no longer consider church a part of their lives?' This is a radical shift in focus; it's a different way of thinking about being the church in a community." (130)
The book was mostly a fantastic and thought-provoking read, right up until the part where they start talking about how you can help you church work towards missional change if you use their books, programs, and consultants (and a quick look at their website will reveal that you will be in for a large sum of money if you do so). After an otherwise thoughtful analysis, this disappointed. Overall, though, I found the book to be helpful. I'm captivated by the concept of what it might mean to become a truly local church.(less)