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Vendor: Tyndale House
Publication Date: 2011
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When I began these conversations among fellow believers I began to ask them, "What counts as 'church'? Does only the Sunday morning gathering of the entire congregation count as church? Or does participation in a small group in someone's home count as 'church' as well? What about the folks that attend Sunday school but leave before worship? Do they count as part of the church or not?"
Small is Big! argues that our understanding of church has become too institutional and too narrow. As members of what is alternately called "house church," "organic church," and "simple church," Tony and Felicity place before their readers a different vision of what the word "church" means and what church can be. In arguing in favor of house churches, they believe that a simpler model of church is not only more efficient and effective, but also more biblical.
The text of Small is Big! reads as part memoir and part thesis. The Dales begin their book by sharing about their own journey toward "simple church," and how it has ministered to them and others they know effectively. Throughout the book, they share examples of their joys and sorrows in their spiritual and church journeys. The authors also make a convincing case for house churches as a biblical model for living out the Christian faith in community. They thoroughly speak about the history of house churches (Chapters 3 and 4) and the biblical basis for organic churches (Chapter 9 and 13).
Small is Big! also practical. Most of the last third of the book addresses how leadership (Chapter 17) and finances (Chapter 18) work in a house church. The Dales do not simply wax eloquent about their vision for the church; they are very clear about how this kind of church functions well.
The biggest problem I have with Small is Big! has to do with the way it is being marketed. It is a re-release of a book previous titled The Rabbit and the Elephant. This practice of selling the same book under a different title always bothers me, especially when I buy the same book twice under two different titles.
All in all, Small is Big! is an excellent primer for understanding the house church, or simple church, movement. It is well written, conversational, biblically based, and well reasoned. If anyone is interested in starting or participating in a house church model of Christian community, I would recommend this book strongly. Clint Walker, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
ML MichaelsUSA4 Stars Out Of 5October 11, 2011ML MichaelsUSAQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 4God moves in mysterious ways.... Something I have heard from movies to greeting cards. Maybe that is the way God moves in our lives. Mysteriously; in ways we just don't understand. In "Small is big: Unleashing the big impact of intentionally small churches," authors Tony & Felicity Dale with George Barna write about how a small idea can lead to big results. Tony and Felicity discuss their life as followers of Christ and how the prompting of the spirit lead them to their current life adventures. They talk prominently in the book about the simple church, one that isn't over worn by programs and church attendance. As the small church grows the church should fracture off into newer, smaller churches.
On this point I agree and disagree. There is nothing like standing in a congregation of hundreds or thousands worshipping and praising the Lord. But to the Dale's credit, they believe that something can be lost in all of "that", that surrounds larger churches.
Jesus said, "Where there are two or more gathered in My name, I will be with them." And this is true about our daily lives. Church is not the four walls of the building we attend on Sunday, but how we go about our daily lives in the midst of the world. We are the church, and when we are gathered together we are with Jesus.
I think the purpose of the book is outstanding. I think the hope and dream in the heart of the Dale's is to expand the Kingdom of God. But the difficult part of putting something like this into play in our comfortable Christian churches is that it would become uncomfortable.
I enjoyed this book for its natural desire to challenge, at least the thinking of the Christian, if not move them into action.
This book was provided for free by Tyndale Media Center as a part of their Blogger Program.
MyMrsOWisconsinAge: 55-65Gender: female4 Stars Out Of 5A Simple Book with "Bigness"June 1, 2011MyMrsOWisconsinAge: 55-65Gender: femaleQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 4This "small" book describes the current unleashing of the big impact of intentionally small churches. Tony & Felicity Dale and George Barna bring their first-hand experience of how Small Churches can make a huge impact worldwide. Real ministry cannot be measured by numbers in God's Church as the Dales relate how the small, simple, easily reproducible churches are multiplying and spreading God's Kingdom. Neighborhoods, communities, and individual lives are being transformed by this simple, small church modeled after the early New Testament church.
I believe anyone with a passion for missions would find this book of great interest. At first I was skeptical about the book's claim that the simple church is the modern Reformation of the church. I chose not to give up on the authors' claims and continued with an open mind to review the examples, personal stories, and their belief that the small, simple church is growing so rapidly. I had the impression that the traditional church would become extinct soon. However, later in the book, we are told of several large churches that are adopting simple churches as part of their ministry.
The book gives numerous examples of simple churches, and how they began. Unless you know about the early New Testament churches and their simple concept, it would be somewhat challenging to start your own simple church without the direction of the leadership training. The book does offer contact information for anyone interested in learning more about simple churches.
I think the Simple Church described in this book has real merit, especially for many who find large churches too structured. Simple Church, according to "SMALL is big", provides a much more intimate setting, with the belief that many small churches, meeting the needs of it's individuals, is more accurately following the scriptures.
Book disclaimer: Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or ARC.
pastor2519West Point, UTAge: 55-65Gender: male4 Stars Out Of 5rabbits vs elephants: why small is the new bigMay 12, 2011pastor2519West Point, UTAge: 55-65Gender: maleQuality: 4Value: 5"Small is Big" shatters the mega-church myth. Tony and Felicity Dale are medical doctors turned church planters and authors; and they're church planters with a twist. They're not out to set new attendance records, but rather their goal is to teach others to plant churches that multiply. It's not longer about how big your budget, building, and membership role is - what matters is sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ in such a way that new believers are excited enough to go start their own church. They're not out to bash mega-churches, or â€˜legacy churches', in fact they write about working together with voices from those disciplines to improve everybody's products. This book is about a return to basics, following New Testament models, to make a huge difference as small groups of people become churches, become the Church.
I had mixed reactions to this book. I don't think there was anything that I disagree with theologically or procedurally. I'm glad to hear someone take a stand other than the one of the majority voices that bigger is better. Multi-site, multi-campus, multi-pastor, orchestra-sized praise bands may have their place, but not everyone is comfortable there, and much of the work of the church is done by the people connected in a small group, so there is a lot in common.
As a seminary graduate and professional pastor, I don't like the idea that churches don't need pastors; that the New Testament church got along fine without us. But often I find myself thinking that it would be so much fun to be able to minister, to be the church without having to deal with building funds, budgets, bylaws, choirs, and administrative boards.
But the bottom line is that if more of us - mega church, legacy church, or cell church - were focused on being the church, on multiplying the church, on making disciples, on fulfilling the Great Commission, we might see a marked difference in the world from the way it is.
Even though I enjoy being "the pastor" I can think of several people who need to read this book: the ones who's first response to any request for help is "but you're the pastor, you're the professional, that's why we pay you". The work of sharing the gospel is not delegated solely to the pastor_it's the job of every Christian, and this book offers some good advice on how lay people, can be effective in multiplying the church.
To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, I have been asked to mention as part of every Web review that Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
LeighAge: 25-34Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Good introduction to organic church movementMay 11, 2011LeighAge: 25-34Gender: femaleQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 4Small is Big by Tony and Felicity Dale, is an exploration of the potential impact of small, simple, rapidly multiplying churches. Previously published under the title The Rabbit and the Elephant, this edition has been updated with current research. The book delves into the philosophy and methodology behind the small church movement and gives multiple portraits of how small churches can be started and what they might look like.
I found the book well written and an engaging read. It is always encouraging to hear what God is doing in the lives of his people, and the Dales include many stories highlighting the impact of small churches around the world. A few things that stuck out to me were their emphasis on simple, participatory church gatherings, servant leadership, and including women in leadership. This book should be of definite interest to church planters or those desiring to explore how to do church in a different way.
This book was provided to me by the publisher as a review copy. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I did not guarantee a positive review.
Sharon5 Stars Out Of 5SMALL is big!May 6, 2011SharonQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Defining "church" would be a good summary of this book. I was not expecting the book to go in the direction that it did and was pleasantly surprised by it. I must admit that I have been in the midst of taking a "break" from my "legacy" church. I had just gotten to the point of overload and was in desperate need of a break, so I have been home on Sundays while the family is at "church."
I appreciate how Tony & Felicity explain the "simple" church concept. In chapter 4 they share some things that I can totally relate to as this explains why I have taken a "break" from my church.
"Those who are leaving the church are not necessarily immature in their faith. Many have had a long-standing walk with the Lord and have been in church leadership. They are not leaving because they have lost faith. They are leaving the church to preserve their faith. The result is "church outside the box," a small gathering of friends loving Jesus together and reaching out to the community around them. They have freedom from church politics, from a need to "perform," and from we-have-always-done-it-this-way tradition. In simple church, we no longer struggle to please people but are now free to march to the Holy Spirit's drumbeat. Liberated from endless meetings, we have time to get involved in our communities and to reach out to a world that so desperately needs the Lord."
Tony & Felicity are the first to say that the "simple" church is not for everyone -especially those already in a "legacy" church. They are looking for not-yet-saved people. On many levels I think this makes it easier to reach not-yet-saved people as they don't have preconceived expectations of "church." I can see how this would be a great way to reach those that would "never" go to a "traditional" church.
I am pleased to give this book a five star rating.
Book disclaimer: Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or ARC.