How healthy is your church?

30 Jul

RiseBook Review: Rise: Bold Strategies to Transform your Church, by Cally Parkinson with Nancy Scammacca Lewis

Rise: Bold Strategies to Transform your Church is one of the more helpful books I have read on the subject of church health. Rather than church growth, the book focuses on how to help a church take the next step towards spiritual vitality.

The book is the latest in a series from the researches at REVEAL. For the past ten years, they have surveyed 2,000 diverse churches across America in an effort to help church leaders gain clear and practical insights about strategic pathways that will enable spiritual growth.

The REVEAL research is based on the conclusion that church activities do not produce spiritual growth. “More specifically, increased participation in church activities does not significantly contribute to an increasing love of God and others.” The question of how to produce spiritual growth led to the writing of this book. Along the way, the researchers developed a second conclusion: “Churches are more similar than unique. Every church falls into one of eight patterns of spiritual growth effectiveness.”

The authors believe that there are eight defining archetypes of church health, and every church fits one of them.

  • The Troubled Church—People are spiritually immature and unhappy with the church and its senior pastor.
  • The Complacent Church—Faith is surprising underdeveloped, given that attenders are longtime churchgoers.
  • The Extroverted Church—Faith is underdeveloped, but community service is embraced.
  • The Average Church—No spiritual measures deviate from the norm.
  • The Introverted Church—Faith is strong, but faith-based behaviors are lacking.
  • The Self-Motivated Church—Faith is strong across the board, yet people are unenthused about the church.
  • The Energized Church—Faith is somewhat underdeveloped but growing, and people love the church.
  • The Vibrant Church—Faith is strong and mature but still growing, and people love the church.

The bulk of the book is devoted to describing each of these archetypes in detail. Each chapter includes a case study of one church and how they addressed their issues to move forward. This gives the reader an opportunity to hear from a pastor or leader in the church and see what the concepts look like in a real situation. I believe this is the strength of the book.

The final chapter focuses on how to move a church from where it is to becoming Vibrant. The authors describe 15 pathways with three in each of five categories—How to “get people moving”; How to “embed the Bible in everything”; How to “create ownership”; How to “pastor the local community”; and How to “demonstrate Christ-centered leadership.” They also describe which strategy works best with which archetype.

The book makes me want to check out their material and website further in order to identify where our church is and how to move forward towards greater spiritual health. Helpful book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale Blog Network book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Posted by on July 30, 2015 in Books, Church


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