This is a little book that packs a wallop -- a book I almost bought six or seven times, but always decided against it at the last minute, mainly because I was afraid of what it would reveal to me about the church I have pastored these last 9-plus years. The only reason I finally did buy it was the fact that on one of my six or seven 'almosts', I put the title in my shopping cart. About a month later I purchased another book, completing the transaction before noticing I had neglected to remove "Autopsy..." from the list...I think the Lord wanted me to read this book. I did read it, and all my worst fears were confirmed!
All of that said, the timeliness of my reading this little gem cannot be overstated, as our church has been in decline since I arrived, despite doing all I know to facilitate otherwise.
What I gained from this read was needed confirmation, some clarity, direction, and even encouragement. Although it leaves me with making some hard choices, they are choices I now feel are in line with the will of God, rather than me "shooting in the dark" and hoping I hit the mark.
I highly recommend this small piece of dynamite, and not just to those who are at some point on the spectrum toward increasing church unhealthiness. As with other reviewers, I would recommend this title be required reading for all ministry leadership and staff, and / or those considering that step. In fact, why not the entire local flock?! Our present "hour" desperately needs healthy, thriving local churches made up of individuals who are humbly surrendered to, and dependent upon the Lord Jesus Christ for all things. May this little read be the medicine needed to turn many back to the Lord, and prevent others from contracting the "diseases" that are killing and have killed too many local churches -- essential "cells" of the larger body of Christ.
We purchased several copies for our Church Council to read. We are now sharing it with the congregation. I think all of our members should read this book. Some people don't see the struggles that others of us see everyday. I hope we can get some discussions going on how we can heal our sick church--before it is too late! It is amazing to me how arguing about the pulpit, and paint colors, could be so destructive, but I've seen it with my own eyes.
I knew from the outset that I would disagree with the author on a number of points, given that at my church, for scriptural reasons, we have no pastor/minister/leader or any "staff" at all, just a group of elders/overseers. I thought that I would be able to still make useful applications to my own local assembly from this book, even with our differences in organization. This was the case with some points, but I did take issue with a few things the author said.
For example, the use of the term "unchurched people". What is this supposed to mean?! I presume by context that he is referring to the unsaved, but wow. Christianity is a personal faith, not an institution to which one must be inducted. More than this, the author used this term when describing people to whom the pastor has little/no responsibility. His basic point was that pastors should prioritize "churched" people over "unchurched" people. This is SO backwards! Spreading the gospel to the unsaved should be at the top of our priority!
Another thing to consider, which the author failed to mention, is the consultation of the scriptures in proposed changes to the church. As Christians, we should be striving to worship the Lord Jesus as he commanded us to and to follow the teachings of the Bible. If current practices are unscriptural, they should be changed. If proposed changes are unscriptural, they should not be implemented. If people don't like it, then maybe they should spend some time reading the Word of God and really examine what it is that they are coming to church for.
All that said, I really liked what the author had to say about prayer, and the importance of praying together.
Overall, I would definitely recommend Christians to read this book. The themes are good, and in broad strokes I agree with most/all of it. Just remember to keep a critical eye and remember that the above all else, the best place to look for answers is in the Word of God.