Genre: Church, Leadership
Rating: 5 Stars for excellent
Thom Rainer blog
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What began as a blog post has morphed into the creation of a book, both written by Thom S. Rainer. Rainer is the CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources.
The subject is about "the death of churches." Not a pleasant theme, actually it is a theme/subject most church members ignore. They can express, "I know we have a problem at our church." But, that is as far as it goes, there is no discussion, no reaching out for help; further, many will argue and hurl fiery words at those who verbally express there is a problem. But, whether it is apathy, ignorance, arrogance, or fear, nothing to resuscitate the dying church is performed. Before long, maybe in a year or maybe in a few years, the church is dead, the property is sold, and the church family scatters.
Why? Why has the church died? What could have been done to prevent the death? When did the first symptoms of death begin?
Thom S. Rainer, has written an excellent book. It is a book that can be read independently or as a church, it is a book which brings about discussion, it is a book which can be read by those who are not fond of reading (small amount of pages), it is a book which not only shows the symptoms and causes of death, but brings about ideas for change, and for hope.
Rainer does not show easy answers, and for some churches the decision to end is the answer. Why would ending a church be the answer? Because it is too far gone.
"...it's time to let go. Holding on will do no one any good. A dying church is of little benefit to the Kingdom...unless it dies well." Page 100.Further, Rainer describes "four responses" in letting a church die with "dignity."
Autopsy of a Deceased Church, has two sections holding a total of twelve chapters. In the first section "The Autopsy" is performed. In the second section, "Is There Hope for the Dying Church."
At the end of the chapter is a "Prayer Commitment" section, followed by a few questions to reflect on as well as answer.
Autopsy of a Deceased Church, is a convicting book.
It's a book which can cause people to respond, "surely I am not apart of the problem."
An attitude that is humble and teachable is needed in reading the book. No matter how old we are, we will never move beyond the reach of God teaching us. If we stop learning, we stop growing as a Christian, we become stagnant and pitiable.
Several key words are repeated in the book: vision, commitment, prayer, slow erosion, change, decline, the past, concerned, greed, and the inward focus of me-myself-and I. Words that repeat throughout a page, or chapter of a book, cause me to write them down, in order to remember and learn. There is a purpose for repeating words, it is a strong teaching point, in order to find a space in our brain for reference later.
A chapter on, "The Life Stages of a Pastoral Tenure." This was an interesting chapter on the length common for pastors to stay at their church. In addition, reasons for their leaving are given. A common pattern of leaving every 2 or 3 years, because it is at this point "the moonlight and roses serenade" is gone, and conflicts have begun.
Prayer. The most talked about, but often the first to be set aside. Prayer is often the first thing to go that leads to a spiraling affect of a dying church.
Purpose. My definition of purpose is a mission statement. When I have talked about this in the past people look at me funny. I believe every human should have a---
If a church does not know where they are, and where they are going, and how they are going to get there, and why they are working towards something....then they are sitting ducks.
"A church without a gospel-centered purpose is no longer a church at all." Page 75.