Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Autopsy of a Deceased Church by Thom Rainer

Several weeks ago, I received Thom Rainer's new book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church, in the mail to read and review. It took me just a few hours to read through the book, but I have waiting several weeks to write this review. I wanted to process some of the information he writes about in this book as I filter these thoughts through the grid of my church.

I am not sure I know of anyone who wants their church to die. Who would? But we know that it happens every day. While the Church universally is not dying and will not be stopped (Matthew 16:18), individual churches are dying. Constantly, there are churches that shut their doors and stop doing ministry. And for these churches, Rainer argues they almost never see it coming. They fail to see the subtle signs that indicate they are headed for disaster. He says,
"It is rare for a long-term church member to see erosion in his or her church. Growth may come rapidly, but decline is usually slow, imperceptibly slow. This erosion is the worst type of decline for churches, because the members have no sense of urgency to change. they see the church on a regular basis; they don't see the gradual decline that is taking place before their eyes" (12-13).
Throughout this book, Rainer gives several reasons of attitudes that killed the church. For some, it is glorifying the past instead of living in the present. For others, it is an inward looking church. Still for some it is a church that becomes about facilities instead of people. His research and observations are extremely helpful.

At the end of every chapter, he includes a short prayerful commitment that seeks to summarize the chapter. And then there are several helpful questions that makes a person think about their current situation. I could easily see this book being read together with a small group or even a leadership team.

At the very end of the book, Rainer gives four responses for those who think their church is sick; four responses for those who think their church is very sick; and four responses for those that think their church is dying (or is dead). They are worth the time to think about and pray through with your individual church.

It is a very short book, but a helpful book. The research and experience of church ministry that Rainer brings to this topic is something that all of us can learn from. I would recommend it not just for your library, but for your thinking about church life.

I received a copy of Autopsy of a Deceased Church by Thom Rainer from B&H Publishers for review.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.