My Favorite Books

The Walking Drum
Ender's Game
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Curse of Chalion
The Name of the Wind
Chronicles of the Black Company
The Faded Sun Trilogy
The Tar-Aiym Krang

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Review: When Church Stops Working: A Future for Your Congregation beyond More Money, Programs, and Innovation

When Church Stops Working: A Future for Your Congregation beyond More Money, Programs, and Innovation When Church Stops Working: A Future for Your Congregation beyond More Money, Programs, and Innovation by Andrew Root
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There are a lot of theories to explain the decline in participation in mainline christian churches. One common idea is that struggling churches just aren’t doing enough to keep their memberships actively involved. Today we see any number of activities that compete with the church for our time and church is simply getting prioritized last (symptom 1 of the secular age). The other two “symptoms” are variants of the same theme (churches simple have less influence and our belief has simply changed/evolved and church hasn’t left up). The success of Mega Churches seem to highlight the truth of all this; however, this book strikes a different tone.

Doing for the sake of doing doesn’t work and just leads to burn-out. What is needed is the patience to wait for God’s action instead of acting on our own. This is a particularly difficult task in a society that has grown accustomed to instant gratification. In our capitalized society, we know speed is a significant factor for success. Here the author provides a few practical ideas on waiting. Here also, there is a discussion about crisis that was a struggle for me to completely understand/agree with (No crisis = No God); however, one aspect of this discussion provided an interesting insight. Simply point, the drive for uniformity can be detrimental to the church community and some "tension, discord and even conflict” is actually healthy for the community to grow in faith. Getting comfortable with diversity is important; however, it can also be true that extreme opposites with some form of uniform belief just doesn’t work … and this tension was not covered at all.

The book then finishes up throwing away the “mission statement” that is so common in business and replaces the concept with the watchword. I have to admit that it took me awhile to discern the difference, but as far as I can tell … mission statements drive what we do and watchwords drives what we believe (core ideals) which indirectly influence what we do. Not every community will always have a watchword (so they need to wait until they can discover what it should be) and no watchword lasts forever (so there is a time to abandon it and look for another). This idea was completely new to me and was very thought provoking.

1. Why Your Church Has a Problem, but It Isn’t What You Think
2. Busy People, Busy Church — A Killer Cocktail
3. Stop All the Having and Just Be
4. It’s Time to Wait, but for What?
5. Waiting Brings Life, Not a Slow Death
6. Forget the Mission Statement
7. Out of the Family Basement
8. Nothing Can Separate You

I was given this free advance reader copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#WhenChurchStopsWorking #NetGalley

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My Ratings Explained ...

  • [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
  • [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
  • [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
  • [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
  • [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.