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.
Having read quite a few of Paul Chappell’s book, I believe this has been one of his finest. Some of his books are a bit dry, but I found this one to be a compelling, balanced approach to the subject of the Great Commission.
It is often that you find two camps pitted at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the Great Commission. There are many churches who teach and preach and practice soul winning, soul winning, soul winning but do a poor job of discipleship (which is just as much a part of the Great Commission). At the other end are churches who are excellent at the discipleship piece of the Great Commission but are not reaching anyone with their evangelistic or soul winning efforts because they basically are not pursuing souls. This book is call for a balanced approach.
Chappell has done a superb job writing a Biblically sound book filled with philosophy and practicality concerning the Great Commission. And from what I can tell, he and his church successfully practice what he teaches in the book. It is no wonder that his church is a very solid, growing (quite young still), balanced work.
The Wall Street Journal recently (August 13, 2014) published an article detailing the surge of food and drink retailers to use “see-through” packaging to market their goods. Generally, goods sold that show at least some of the product are selling better. The piece highlighted the delicate balance of using this type of packaging with a variety of different foods. For instance, potato chips don’t sell well with “see-through” packaging but tortilla chips do. Granola, pricey juice drinks, yogurt, and pizza are examples of “see-through” items that seem to be selling better than their “hidden” competitors.
The research was clear (no pun intended) – shoppers are more inclined to buy when they see what they’re getting. But here is the kicker – “transparent packaging is surprisingly hard to make. Food often isn’t ready for a big reveal after a package has suffered shipping, shelf stocking, and other jostling.” Wall Street Journal, August 13, 2014, See-Through Food Packaging Boosts Sales
Now this grabbed my attention! Having worked and interacted with people of all shapes, sizes, political persuasions, different levels of religious fervor, and a sundry of other temperaments, I am convinced that the most attractive people are those who we can “see through.” And let me tell you – just as actual transparent packaging is hard to create for the retailers, a transparent life is hard to live. Why? Because just like a bag of chips, life has a way of causing “shipping problems, shelf stocking, and other jostling” to occur day-to-day.
“It just goes to show that money doesn’t make you happy.”
“Wealth, fame, and popularity does not bring joy.”
“Having lots of money or being famous will not bring you inner peace.”
And although I agree with the truth behind these statements, we sometimes like to say certain statements to bolster the position of the Christian. We say them to show (albeit falsely) that we don’t struggle with these types of things. I am sure you have heard them. They go something like this:
“We Christians have that inner peace that the world doesn’t have.”
“Having Jesus Christ in my life keeps me from being depressed.”
“If they only had God in their life, they wouldn’t struggle like they are struggling now.”
Anyone that has been a Christian for any length of time and has dealt with people, knows the real truth – Christians struggle with depression too.
If you know anything about my wife, you know that every time we drive by a Wal-Mart, she places her hand over her heart! Well, maybe not EVERY time but seriously, Wal-Mart holds a special place in our heart. Why Wal-Mart? I’ll get to that in a moment.
Growing up in Northwest Montana, we were not privileged to have a Wal-Mart in our town. In fact, Wal-Mart did not have a presence in Montana until 1992. By then, I was in my sophomore year of college. No, we had the utmost “privilege” of shopping at the only other “mart” that was in town. Yes – we suffered by shopping at Kmart. I guess I should say my mother suffered while shopping at Kmart. I do not have fond memories of Kmart for several reasons. First, every Kmart I have ever been in has something like 37 registers with only three of them open for service. Usually, one stands about seven deep in line just dreaming about another one of the multiple registers being open for service! Second, I do not believe the words “customer service” and “Kmart” were ever found in the same sentence (until now). I have never had the privilege of actually finding a Kmart associate to help me in the department that I am aimlessly wandering in the unfruitful search for an item. One must traverse their way halfway across the store to hopefully spy a Kmart associate. However, this is not the worst of it. When you do find one and ask for the item you are looking for, the conversation goes something like this:
In my day job, when I am asked to assist an employee with a problem, I often ask them a very important question. If their response is in the negative, I nearly always ask them to do this one thing before we go any further. This one thing has solved more problems in the type of work that I perform than anything else. Recently, as I asked an employee this question, she looked at me with a sheepish grin (one of those grins that said, “I know I should be doing this more often, but I’m not) and told me “no.”
Before I finish that story, I think the first time I remember seeing a verse next to his signature was during high school. You see, my dad’s company had gone out of business and for a period of 3-4 months, he had to go out-of-state for employment to provide for our family (if you only knew my dad – he is the best Christian I know). So, he got on a plane in Missoula, Montana and flew to southern California to work with my uncle in his construction business.
Things that Discourage Millennial Christian Leaders
BY CARY SCHMIDT
I believe in the millennial generation—perhaps because I worked with young adults for over two decades! Because of my age, I regularly find myself on the receiving end of “concerned” conversations from two generations. Those older than me are fearful of where the millennial’s will take the gospel and biblical Christianity. Those younger than me feel they aren’t being given a fair shot—they are discouraged by and often feel compelled to run from unbiblical attitudes and hostile dispositions of previous generations.
I’m not referring to doctrinal concerns—the millennial’s that I know are committed to gospel purity and biblical integrity. They are grounded doctrinally. They aren’t evolving their theology. But they ARE learning their culture and their ministry “style” just as every generation has. They are rediscovering how to actually and effectively DO gospel ministry in a world that is VERY DIFFERENT than it was just 25 years ago.