Has the North American church relinquished her God-given mission to parachurch organizations, psychotherapy, and consumer capitalism? Warning that postmodern evangelicals are increasingly modeling their ministries after secular sciences and "farming out" church functions in the name of efficiency, Fitch challenges believers to reclaim the lost practices of evangelism, physical healing, and spiritual formation. 240 pages, softcover from Baker.
"North American evangelicals learned to do church in relation to modernity," asserts David Fitch. Furthermore, evangelicals have begun to model their ministries after the secular sciences or even to farm out functions of the church whenever it seems more efficient. As a result, the church, too often, has stopped being the church.
In The Great Giveaway, Fitch examines various church practices and shows how and why each function has been compromised by modernity. Discussing such ministries as evangelism, physical healing, and spiritual formation, Fitch challenges Christians to reclaim these lost practices so that the church can regain its influence. Pastors, leaders, and students who minister to the postmodern world will find in this book fresh insight that will stir the hearts of many and spark much-needed discussion about the evangelical church.
David Fitch (Ph.D., Northwestern University) is pastor of Life on the Vine Christian Community of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Long Grove, Illinois, and is adjunct professor of ministry, theology, and ethics at Northern Seminary.
This is a searing but loving insider critique of the individualism that marks
North American evangelicals. Fitch, senior pastor of the Life on the Vine
Christian community in Arlington Heights, Ill., blames an embrace of modernism
for attempts by evangelicals to "individualize, commodify, and package
Christianity." He criticizes mega-churches that end up functioning like
capitalist businesses with CEO-style pastors judging success by the number of
"decisions for Christ" produced. Each chapter outlines the various ways
evangelicalism has "given away" its influence and then offers concrete
practices designed to help the church reclaim its mission. Fitch's most
scathing criticism is saved for the evangelical willingness to embrace modern
psychology, which he blasts as patient-centered rather than Christ-centered.
He challenges evangelical churches to think smaller (in terms of congregation
size), place less focus on coercive evangelism, return to communal catechesis,
offer more liturgical worship and provide opportunities for small group
intimacy where Christians can confess their sins, repent, read scripture and
pray together regularly. Intellectually rigorous, this book's critical tone
will undoubtedly upset many conservative evangelicals, but will point the way
for the more moderate ones for years to come. (Oct. 15) Copyright 2005 Reed
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