Let's see, I have read: Comeback Churches, Planting Missional Churches, Simple Church, Breakout Churches and.... no, I think that's it. I have read a lot of books by Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer. This new book, Transformational Church "creating a new scorecard for congregations" feels more like the duo's "latest album" than a brand new book.
Right off, let me say that I liked it, it was a good read - but in a lot of ways it seemed to take the same approach Comeback Churches did. As researchers they set perimeters and then had churches qualify based on those. Next they sent them a questionnaire and compiled the research. A Transformational Church was one that grew by 10% in five years; and had a significant number of those attending involved in some type of 'small group' activity. Of those churches that responded the authors concluded that there were 7 key areas of focus (and you probably already know what they are):
Now, of course I have simplified it, and the book goes into much greater detail as to how those keys play out, but that is pretty much the gist of it. All in all I read through the book pretty fast. I nodded in agreement to much of it, but didn't really underline anything. I would say, if you have books by these guys, you might not need to pick this up (unless you just have to subdue your new book fix, in which case I understand), but if you have not read any of their books this is certainly the one to pick up.
I think the resources that come out of this study and the church diagnostic tool, the retreats and curriculum will be more of a benefit in the long run for churches, and so I will certainly watch with interest how those pan out in the coming months.
Transformational Church is not another "how to do church" book. The authors accomplished exactly what they set out to do; across denominational lines they set out to find out what churches in transformation were doing that brought successful church ministry.
Discern, Embrace and Engage, the transformational loop, address the necessary components of ministry for a church of any size. That in itself is appealing to those new to ministry as well as old war horses like me. There is no magical formuala here; just a report on what successful churches are doing to reach their communities.
In the hopes of discovering the reasons for the decline of churches in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) a research team from Lifeway set out to interview several churches from varying denominational backgrounds that had, in their opinion, experienced some kind of growth contrary to the current downward trend. The numbers were crunched and the research concluded as of March 29, 2010. The result was a wealth of data and the encapsulation of such in the book "Transformational Church". To read more of my review check out http://intrepidevangelist.blogspot.com/2010/12/transformational-church-book-review.html