Book Review: Autopsy of a Deceased Church by Thom Rainer

autopsyAbsolutely loved the start to this book…what a powerful word picture the author uses to describe what the reader comes to know as a dying church!

You say, “Why in the world would I want to read about dying churches?” This book is not so much about dying churches, but observations from the “autopsies” of fourteen churches who had died. Rainer describes the thought of an autopsy as disconcerting and one that no one enjoys. However, in his introduction, he makes a very poignant statement. “The trauma of observing an autopsy is only beneficial if it is received as a warning to the living.” He then goes on to state that this book is not about dwelling on the past, but bearing fruit in the future.

One other note worth mentioning is another truth given in the introduction as to Matthew 16:18. Too many Christians (especially leaders and pastors) hide behind the promise of this verse all the while the church they are leading is crumbling around them. Rainier rightly states the following concerning this: “Indeed the Church will never die. But churches have and are dying.”

And then near the end of the introduction, he makes this statement – May God gives us the courage to make the changes necessary to give new life to our churches.

At the end of every chapter in this book is a reflective, prayerful commitment that Rainier challenges the reader to pray. I like this book but it is very direct. The author pulls no punches but at the same time ends with some advice at the end of the book.

Although it is a scant read (102 pages), it presents some very straight forward findings from churches that have actually closed their doors never to open again. May we all learn from these facts.


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