Research & Analysis

BOOK REVIEWS

The strength of our Book Reviews collection lies in the categorical breakdown that we have created for you below. We have divided the most common ministry design issues into categories so that you can more easily find the solution that you are looking for. Our eventual goal is to have an in-depth review for every book that will give you further assistance in discovering the reading pathway that can lead you to the solutions to the ministry issues you may be facing.


EVANGELISM |

Research & Analysis

  • Church Refugees: Sociologists reveal why people are DONE with church but not their faith

    By Josh Packard and Ashleigh Hope

    “They’re called The Dones.
    After devoting a lifetime to their churches, they’re walking away. Why?

    Sociologists Josh Packard and Ashleigh Hope reveal the results of a major study about the exodus from the American church.

    And what they’ve discovered may surprise you…
    -Church refugees aren’t who you’d expect. Among those scrambling for
    the exits are the church’s staunchest supporters and leaders.
    -Leaving the church doesn’t mean abandoning the faith. Some who
    are done with church report they’ve never felt spiritually stronger.
    -The door still remains open—a crack. Those who’ve left remain hungry
    for community and the chance to serve—and they’re finding both.

    Sifting through hundreds of hours of in-depth interviews, Packard and Hope provide
    illuminating insights into what has become a major shift in the American landscape.

    If you’re in the church, discover the major reasons your church may be in danger
    of losing its strongest members—and what you can do to keep them.

    If you’re among those done with church, look for your story to be echoed here.
    You’re not alone—and at last you’re understood.

    Share your story at TheDones.com”

  • Churchless: Understanding Today’s Unchurched and How to Connect with Them

    By George Barna and David Kinnaman

    “Churchless people are all around us: among our closest loved ones, at our workplaces, in our neighborhoods. And more and more, they are becoming the norm: The number of churchless adults in the US has grown by nearly one-third in the past decade. Yet the startling truth is that many of these people claim they are looking for a genuine, powerful encounter with God—but they just don’t find it in church. What are they (or we) missing? How can we better reach out to them? What can we say or do that would inspire them to want to join a community of faith? Containing groundbreaking new research from the Barna Group, and edited by bestselling authors George Barna (Revolution) and David Kinnaman (You Lost Me), Churchless reveals the results of a five-year study based on interviews with thousands of churchless men and women. Looking past the surface of church attendance to deeper spiritual realities, Churchless will help us understand those who choose not to be part of a church, build trust-based relationships with them, and be empowered to successfully invite them to engage.”

  • Direct Hit: Aiming Real Leaders at the Mission Field

    By Paul D. Borden

     

  • Effective Evangelistic Strategies

    By David Archibald

    Effective Evangelistic Strategies is a handbook/guide to greater effectiveness in reaching people for Jesus. In it you will be presented with various methods used and the method Jesus Himself used. It is not designed to be exhaustive by any means, but is a basic guide to reaching your world for the Lord. This booklet can be used by individuals and groups alike to open the discussion around the subject.

    Once you go through this book, you will gain a greater appreciation for the Great Commission given in Matthew 28: 19-20. Purchase for yourself, friends, family or church group.

  • Evaluating the Church Growth Movement: 5 Views (Counterpoints: Church Life)

    by Gary McIntosh. Publisher: Zondervan.
  • Get Their Name: Grow Your Church by Building New Relationships

    By Doug Anderson, Bob Farr, and Kay Kotan

    Change your church culture. Create an outwardly focused environment where hospitality and invitation happen Sunday and every day of the week. This book offers five steps to help congregations go public with their faith—from service projects to sharing the faith with persons who want to know more about Christ and thw church. This book offers tactics to increase individual and church competency with relational evangelism with friends, neighbors, and even strangers. Learn how to start up a conversation, follow up with contacts, and navigate unfamiliar settings. Learn what works and what doesn’t.

    We may think that just because we invite someone on our church property, they’ll come back. Often we don’t reach out to help people cross the faith line, because we’re uncomfortable with “evangelism” or just plain scared. Gain the confidence to share the good news boldly. After all, we know the name of the One who loves us all and who holds all power over heaven and earth.

  • Grow Your Church from the Outside in: Understanding the Unchurched and How to Reach Them

    by George Barna. Publisher: Regal Books.

    Results of research and analysis

  • I Sold My Soul On eBay: Viewing Faith Through an Atheist’s Eyes

    by Hemant Mehta. Publisher: WaterBrook Press.
  • I’m OK – You’re Not: The Message We’re Sending Nonbelievers And Why We Should Stop

    by John Shore. Publisher: NavPress Publishing Group.

    Focuses on balance in our outreach

  • Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture

    By Adam S. McHugh

    “Introverts are called and gifted by God. But many churches tend to be extroverted places where introverts are marginalized. Some Christians end up feeling like it’s not as faithful to be an introvert.

    Adam McHugh shows how introverts can live and minister in ways consistent with their personalities. He explains how introverts and extroverts process information and approach relationships differently and how introverts can practice Christian spirituality in ways that fit who they are. With practical illustrations from church and parachurch contexts, McHugh offers ways for introverts to serve, lead, worship and even evangelize effectively.

    Introverts in the Church is essential reading for any introvert who has ever felt out of place, as well as for church leaders who want to make their churches more welcoming to introverts. Discover God’s call and empowering to thrive as an introvert, for the sake of the church and kingdom.”

  • Jim and Casper Go to Church: Frank Conversation about Faith, Churches, and Well-Meaning Christians

    by Jim Henderson & Matt Casper.
  • Making Friends for Christ: A Practical Approach to Relational Evangelism

    By Wayne McDill

    “Making Friends for Christ is a practical approach to relational evangelism. It combines a theological and biblical rationale with practical counsel and dozens of real life stories. The new edition is a major revision, enlarged and updated for twenty-first century challenges. Pastors, church planters, and missionaries will find it most helpful. Laymen who have been frustrated with their attempts at witnessing are finding it opens a new way of thinking about reaching their friends and relatives for Christ…”

  • Making Friends for Christ: A Practical Approach to Relational Evangelism

    by Wayne McDill

    “Making Friends for Christ is a practical approach to relational evangelism. It combines a theological and biblical rationale with practical counsel and dozens of real life stories. The new edition is a major revision, enlarged and updated for twenty-first century challenges. Pastors, church planters, and missionaries will find it most helpful. Laymen who have been frustrated with their attempts at witnessing are finding it opens a new way of thinking about reaching their friends and relatives for Christ..”

  • Marketing for Church: Understanding the Basics

    by Dean Seddon

    This short book explains the basics of Marketing in a Christian context. This book explains the basics of marketing for use within churches and christian charities as well as give you some understanding regarding the principles of marketing succesfully.

    This mini book covers the two main concepts of marketing…

    The Four P’s – Product, Place, Price, Promotion
    The Four C’s – Consumer, Cost, Convenience, Communication

  • Mission Creep: The Five Subtle Shifts That Sabotage Evangelism & Discipleship

    By Larry Osborne

    “Evangelism and discipleship aren’t rocket science. When Jesus sent out a ragtag team from Galilee with the expectation that they would evangelize and disciple the world, they pulled it off as a natural and spontaneous outworking of their faith.
    Yet 2,000 years later, this same natural and spontaneous process has been turned into a complex and highly programmed skill left to the professionals. Pastor and author Larry Osborne exposes what’s gone wrong and the five subtle shifts that sabotage our best efforts to reach the lost and bring them to full maturity.”

  • Postmodernism 101: A First Course for the Curious Christian

    by Heath White. Publisher: Brazos Press.

    A well-written navigational tool for those wishing to understand the new era we are ministering in.

  • Reaching People Under 40 While Keeping People Over 60: Being Church for All Generations

    By Edward H. Hammett and James R. Pierce

    “Reaching People Under 40 While Keeping People Over 60: Being Church for All Generations (TCP Leadership Series)”

  • Sentness: Six Postures of Missional Christians

    By Kim Hammond and Darren Cronshaw

    Ever wonder why people fall asleep in church?

    “It happens. We’ve all seen it. We shuffle into rows of seats that grow more comfortable with every new fundraising campaign. We slouch down and settle in for an hour or so, as singers and storytellers and preachers and teachers take their turns filling our ears. And almost without fail, at least one of us nods off while listening to the greatest story ever told.

    The church was not meant to be like this. The church was meant to be on its feet, in the world, making all things new. The church was meant to be sent.

    Kim Hammond and Darren Cronshaw want to help us—all of us—rediscover our sentness.

    Dive into Sentness, and explore the six postures of a church that’s keeping pace with God’s work in the world. Rediscover the gospel that first quickened your pulse and got you up on your feet, ready to go wherever Jesus called you. Get Sentness, and prepare to get sent.”

  • Shaping of Things to Come, The: Innovation and Mission for the 21st-Century Church

    By Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost

    “In a time when the need for and the relevance of the Gospel has seldom been greater, the relevance of the church has seldom been less. The Shaping of Things to Come explores why the church needs to rebuild itself from the bottom up. Frost and Hirsch present a clear understanding of how the church can change to face the unique challenges of the twenty-first century. This missional classic has been thoroughly revised and updated.”

  • Small Church, Big Impact (Ebook Shorts)

    by Brandon O’Brien. Publisher: Bethany House Publishers.
  • Surprising Insights from the Unchurched and Proven Ways to Reach Them

    by Thom Rainer. Publisher: Zondervan.

    Focuses on effective outreach

    Click to see full review

    Purpose:

    To assist the reader in understanding and reaching the “unchurched”/p>

    Content:

    The author divides the book into two parts:

    1. Listening to the Formerly Unchurched: Understand the unchurched so you can reach them. He seeks to “shatter” myths and establish what works with reaching the unchurched.
    2. Leaders of Churches that reach the Unchurched: Understand the pastors that are reaching the unchurch and follow their example.

    Analysis:

    While this book was published in 2001 the time and energy it takes to read and contemplate the results and suggestions is well worth it. I believe it will help you critic your efforts to reach the lost and perhaps help you dissolve some of your own myths about the unchurched.

    Application:

    Who will benefit?

    Pastors and staff

    How will it benefit?

    It can help you chart a course to reaching the unchurched in your community.

    Where does it fit in the ministry design process?

    At the front end of your discipleship design.

  • The Bridger Generation

    by Thom S. Rainer. Publisher: B&H Academic.

    Focuses on the 19-29 year old generation

    Click to see full review

    Purpose:
    To introduce the reader to the second largest generational group in our country’s history by presenting their characteristics, conduct, attitudes, struggles, and perspectives as well as ideas of how to reach them with the Gospel.

    Content:
    The character, conduct, culture and creed of the “Bridger Generation” are compared to the two previous generations, the” boomers and busters”. The unique challenges to reaching this generation with the gospel are discussed and the urgent need, as evidenced in statistics, to reach them while they are still young.

    Analysis:
    The author is one of the first to study and critique this age group from a ministry perspective.  The book gives us an insight into the thinking and lifestyle of this young generation.  Based on the research results that he presents, the author urges church leaders to reach out and connect with this generation early in their life.   The point of receptivity for most believers occurs before the age of 20 and few ministries are giving adequate time and attention to them.  The author gives a list of 7 obstacles to reaching this group and they are very helpful to those that wish to overcome them.  From their research, they found 4 clear characteristics of those churches that are being successful in their attempts at reaching this group:  love them unconditionally, set clear boundaries and rules, establish high expectations that challenge them, and be sensitive to their culture.

    Application:
    Who will benefit?
    The ministry design team and the youth pastor with his staff.

    How will it benefit?
    It provides statistics and suggestions to help you develop your unique ministry to this age group.

    Where does it fit in the process?
    Research and development.

    Aha Thought
    “Church leaders of the seventies through the nineties were told that they and their churches were hopelessly out of date and out of touch.” “For the most part the critics were right.  The evangelical church did not understand the culture it was trying to reach.  Change was needed.
    But some churches went overboard in making changes.  For these churches, changes in style shifted to changes in substance.  The user-friendly exuberance led to low expectations and subtle encouragement of biblical illiteracy.  So the boomers and busters entered the church looking for something different.  They were initially attracted by the relevancy of the worship, the ability to remain anonymous, and the hope of the Christian faith.  But they quietly left the church when they discovered it to be amazingly similar to the world they knew.  They were looking for something different; what they found was often more worldly than heavenly.” (p. 13-14)

  • The Externally Focused Church

    by Rick Rusaw & Eric Swanson. Publisher: Group.

    Addresses a much needed change in church culture in the 21rst century.

  • The Externally Focused Life

    By Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson

    This is the first book of a three part series on developing an external life, church and kingdom.

    Can ordinary people live extraordinary lives?

    Yes–when those lives are externally focused! That’s the message Pastor Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson deliver in this timely, Bible-based book. Using a memorable acrostic for LIFE–Love, Intersections, Fortune, Eternity–the authors challenge us to find more than purpose…to uncover the joy in a lifestyle of authentic Christian service. Discussion questions included.

  • The Externally Focused Quest: Becoming the Best Church for the Community

    by Eric Swanson (Author), Rick Rusaw (Author)

    The Externally Focused Quest: Becoming the Best Church for the Community is designed for church leaders who want to transform their churches to become less internally focused and more oriented to the world around them. The book includes the clear guidelines on the ten changes congregations must adopt to become truly outwardly focused. This book is not about getting all churches to have an annual day of community service as a tactic but changing the core of who they are and how they see themselves as a part of their community.

  • The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated

    By James Emery White

    “The single fastest-growing religious group of our time is those who check the box next to the word none on national surveys.

    In America, this is 20 percent of the population.

    And most churches are doing virtually nothing to reach them.

    In this hard-hitting examination of our churches’ current evangelism methods, which often result only in transfer growth–Christians moving from one church to another–rather than in reaching the nones, James Emery White calls us to discover the mission field right outside our doors. The pastor of a megachurch that is currently experiencing 70 percent of its growth from the unchurched, White knows how to reach this growing demographic, and here he shares his ministry strategies with concerned pastors and church leaders, answering questions like

    · Exactly who are the unaffiliated?
    · What caused this seismic shift in our culture?
    · How can our churches reach these people?

    If you long to see growth in your church that is the result of lost people entering into the family of God, this book is where you should start.

    “In an era of increasing complexity and religious apathy, James Emery White has written a book that is helpful, informative, challenging, and timely. Those who care about communicating the gospel in this complex culture and think the church must regroup and re-engage should read The Rise of the Nones.”–Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research”

  • The Unchurched Next Door: Understanding Faith Stages as Keys to Sharing Your Faith

    by Thom Rainer. Publisher: Zondervan.

    Focuses on degrees of receptivity to the gospel

    Click to see full review

    Purpose:

    The Rainer research team has unveiled “faith” stages to help us understand and advance the cause of evangelism and show us how to apply this knowledge in reaching the lost for Christ.

    Content:

    The author presents the research results and divides the unchurched into five categories with definitions, illustrations, examples and explanations of each.  He then shares the insights provided by the formerly unchurched and offers ten reasons we have not reached them.  He concludes the book by offering suggestions for reaching the unchurched at their particular “faith stage”.

    Analysis:

    If you are going to obey the great commission this book can be a great help in understanding how to go about it in an effective way. It is full of helpful information and suggestions. We are told to become “fishers of men” and it seems logical to be familiar with the “fish” you are called to catch. This book will help.

    Application:

    Who will benefit?

    Every believer will benefit from the research and suggestions found in this book.

    How will it benefit?

    It will help you understand the thinking and attitudes of the unchurched so you can identify their faith stage and effectively reach out to them with the gospel.

    Where does it fit?

    In the design development of your discipleship and evangelism ministry.

    Aha Thought:

     

    “We asked Mark why he finally attended a church.

    ‘Because Chad invited me,’ he responded bluntly.

    ‘Any other reasons?’ we asked.

    ‘Nope, just because I was invited.’

  • Transitioning the Church: Leading the Established Church to Reach the Unchurched

    By Zack Williams

    “Is the church primarily for the churched or the unchurched? How do church leaders transition an established church to reach the unchurched? Zach describes one of the biggest problems in many established churches: They have lost their drive to reach the unchurched. This book reveals how the problem perpetuates because of church leadership. Too many church leaders are content with an inward focus.

    Zach identifies how leaders can help established churches transition from an inward focus to an outward focus. Transitioning is one of the most important characteristics a church can have because it involves the mission of Jesus, to take those who are hurting and lost and give them life.”

  • unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity… and Why It Matters

    by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. Publisher: Baker Books.

    Results of a research study from the Barna Group.

    Click to see full review

    Purpose:

    To help believers see what Christianity looks like from unbelievers born between 1984 and 2002 and to suggest a course of action in response to this information.

    Content:

    The research reveals an unsettling description of believers by the nonbelievers in this age group – words like hypocrite, judgmental, insensitive.  The unbelievers in this age group do not believe that today’s believers look anything like they think Christ intended them to look.

    Analysis:

    The book is disturbing and thought provoking. Allow it to help you think through the implications to each area of our lives.  The book brings us face-to-face with the stark reality that how we would like to be seen has not happened.  Instead, the unbelievers in this age group perceive us, by our actions, to be anything but Christlike.

    Application:
    Who will benefit?
    Any Christian seeking to make a difference

    How will it benefit?
    It should help us evaluate and realign ourselves in our attitudes and actions

    Where does it fit?
    Development of your Philosophy of ministry

    Aha Thought:
    “Another significant antidote to hypocrisy (in addition to integrity and purity) is transparency.  On one level, hypocrisy is failing to acknowledge the inconsistencies in our life.  It is denial.  It is, as the Bible describes it, trying to remove a speck from someone else’s eye when you have a log in your own.  Living with integrity starts with being transparent.
    Young people talk these days about the need for authenticity, for ‘keepin’it real’ – not pretending to be something you are not, being open about your faults.  Young people are searching for this type of person, this kind of lifestyle.  In one survey we found that ‘doing what you say you are going to do’ was among the characteristics young people most admired.” (p. 54-55)

  • Uncovered

    By Rod Tucker

    “Greg was homeless. As he walked through the park one day, he was surrounded by people. Good people. Caring people. Christian people. People doing ministry. But people totally oblivious to Greg. No one saw him, talked to him, noticed him, or tried to minister to him. The Christians were preoccupied—working hard on the ministry they were putting together—a ministry intended to provide help and healing to the most vulnerable in their city, a ministry designed to reach . . . the homeless! How do Christians, benefactors of the overwhelming grace of an immeasurably generous God, fail so miserably at showing and distributing—of all things—grace? In voice and style evocative of Donald Miller and Scot McKnight, yet with a message all his own, Rod Tucker explores how we Christians have become masters of self-deceptive and fake moral living. Just like Adam and Eve, we don’t want anyone to know we are spiritually naked. But covering up around God denies us the freedom of his grace. Until we can be honest with ourselves, honest with God, and honest with others, daily grace will continue to elude us, either as gift received or as gift given. We remain trapped in our Botox spirituality until we come to grips with exactly who we are.”

  • You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church…and Rethinking Faith

    by David Kinnaman. Publisher: Baker Books