Thursday, September 25, 2008

Review - Essential Church eBook

Thanks to Bill Reichart for pointing out this one - Church Leadership Books is making a PDF eBook version of "Essential Church: Reclaiming a Generation of Dropoutsavailable for free. All that's needed is your email address, which also signs you up for a Church Leadership Newsletter. The book is by Thom and Sam Rainer - a follow-up to the very popular "Simple Church."

More than two-thirds of young adults between the ages of 18-22 leave the church - that's a disturbingly high figure. The Rainers spoke to those who left, the dechurched. What reasons did they give for leaving?

Top Ten Reasons Church Dropouts Stopped Attending Church

  1. Simply wanted a break from church.
  2. Church members seemed judgmental or hypocritical.
  3. Moved to college and stopped attending church.
  4. Work responsibilities prevented me from attending.
  5. Moved too far away from the church to continue attending.
  6. Became too busy though still wanted to attend.
  7. Didn’t feel connected to the people in my church.
  8. Disagreed with the church’s stance on political or social issues.
  9. Chose to spend more time with friends outside the church.
  10. Was only going to church to please others.
The premise of Essential Church is that the reason they leave boils down to this...
Churchgoing students drop out of the church because it is not essential to their lives.

Part 1: Why People Leave the Nonessential Church
  Chapter 1: My Faith is Not My Parents’ Faith
  Chapter 2: Looking for a different kind of community
  Chapter 3: That’s Life! it changes
  Chapter 4: A New Spin on hypocrisy
  Chapter 5: All Eyes on the Main Man
Part 2: How Essential Churches Close the Back Door
  Chapter 6: The Essential church and the Back door
  Chapter 7: Simplify: Getting the Structure Right
  Chapter 8: Deepen: Getting the content Right
  Chapter 9: Expect: Getting the Attitude Right
  Chapter 10: Multiply: Getting the Action Right
Conclusion: Building an Essential Church: A Case Study

The core of the book is on what is needed to reverse the trend. In short, an "Essential Church" focuses on these four critical areas:

       Simplify - Deepen - Expect - Multiple

I thought the book was an excellent combination of research, insight, encouragement, and some practical steps churches should consider if they're serious about reversing the perception that church is irrelevant. It should also be an encouragement and challenge to youth ministry leaders. Whether or not you agree with the steps suggested here and in their earlier book 'Simple Church', I would definitely recommend 'Essential Church'.  (And with this currently available as a free download ... why not?!)

No comments: