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5 Stars Out Of 5
Great for Everyone
August 22, 2014
I have been handing this affordable, short yet profound book out to everyone in the congregation to read and the response has been tremendous. People see themselves in the pages and are seeing the need for a new direction in a different way. It has helped me to explain things to people that may have taken years to do on my own.
If you are struggling with ministry, or if you need some light at the end of the tunnel, or if you simply want to know that you're not alone in the church crisis that is being faced in this country then this is the book for you. Mr. Rainer does an excellent job at looking at many of the different issues within the church and what is causing churches to close. One that really stood out in my mind is the clicks that sincerely oppose any kind of change. "Change" for some in the church is the same as speaking a curse word from a pulpit, people will get angry, upset, and down right hateful when change happens. And when change for the betterment of the church is opposed then it hurts the church (and the leadership which he discusses), and if the leadership isn't careful it will kill the church. This and a whole lot more is packed into this small book. I highly recommend this book,as a minister I needed this little book, and I know others will enjoy it as well!
This title popped up in "This Week's Specials" and it caught my eye because the church that I attend in Westminster, Colorado is being ripped to pieces by the church's ruling body, the Session. Power struggles are always ugly and painful. Additionally, the church that I grew up in died about twenty years ago due precisely to issues that Reverend Rainer points out. Looking back at the death of Second Presbyterian Church of Lincoln, Nebraska the symptom that I vividly remember is the turning inward of dying churches instead of looking outward to community to minister to the residents in the nearby neighborhoods. After only fifteen years of existence my current church is already turning inward and attempts to start new outreaches/ministries in the local area are rebuffed by the Elders that are on the Session. They are worried that it would "look bad" if we start an outreach and then fail at it.
After reading the book I gave it to one of the Elders in my current church with two instructions:
(1) Read the book and then pass it on to the other Elders.
(2) Make it a clean kill. Don't let our church flounder around in death throes for years.
Hopefully my antics will help to enlighten the Elders that they need to end their infighting and work together to undo the damage that they have caused. Unfortunately Ruling Elders in the Presbyterian Church in America are installed for life and it is virtually impossible for the congregation to remove them when they have strayed from their charge.
I'm a church girl. I was probably in church the Sunday after I was born. I grew up going every time the doors were open. Some of my fondest childhood memories revolve around the church. Vacation Bible School, Backyard Bible Club, Girls in Action, Church Camp, youth group and dozens of others fill my mind when I think back on those years. I met and married my beloved in our church. We've raised our kids in church and are now watching our kids raise their kids in church.
Several years ago something disturbing came to our attention. We had gone back to our hometown for a funeral and spent some time wandering around looking at and reminiscing about our growing up years. We drove by the church of our youth and were stunned and saddened to see it abandoned and up for sale. What had happened to the once thriving and dynamic congregation that we remembered?
Recently I was given a copy of Autopsy of a Deceased Church to read and review. I wasn't really sure that it would be a book that would appeal to the masses but the title had me intrigued so I gave it a read. I was completely wrong in my preconceived notions. This is a book that every church member needs to read. Dying churches aren't just the problem of the preacher and the church staff. It is a problem that we all need to open our eyes to.
Through the pages of the book I could clearly see what had happened with the church of my youth. The signs were there the whole time. Granted we weren't there when the final nail was placed in the coffin, but the death process had been a slow but steady one. It was a process that was happening even back in the day. But like most of these churches we ignored the signs and chose to look the other way.
One of the things that I like best about this book is that it isn't a doomsday missive. Instead it is full of useful information about how to change the inevitable. I came away from this book with a renewed love for the church and the knowledge that I am part of the body that breathes life into it. If you are part of a church I would urge you to pick up a copy of this book and read it and apply it then pass it on to another member. With the directions contained we can make a difference so that generations to come will have a place like we did and do to be nurtured and loved. Forgive my paraphrase but, without the church the people will perish!
I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review.
So often death comes quickly and unexpectedly. That doesn't mean that there were no indicators or "warning signs." In most cases there were, but they were ignored. Thom Rainer has applied this analogy to local churches in his tiny book, "Autopsy of a Deceased Church." Its 102 pages are well worth being read and discussed by leaders who may suspect that their church is on life support. In a study of fourteen congregations that died, the author has identified a number of precipitating causes, some of which overlap. The chapters are short--perhaps too short for meaningful evaluation--but they provide a great start for a church which suspects it is on the decline to begin taking a serious look at its mission and methods. Are they still in keeping with Kingdom purposes? Are they willing to change--sometimes radically--in order to stay alive? Rainer offers short prayers and brief questions for further thought at the end of every chapter. He classifies unhealthy churches along a scale of "symptoms of sickness--very sick--dying." He concludes by making a passionate plea for churches, where death seems to be an inevitability, to "die with dignity." Although overpriced, this book is a helpful tool for churches in the process of taking an honest look at their present effectiveness in fulfilling the Gospel-mandate.