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Breaking the Missional Code: Your Church Can Become a Missionary in Your Community

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Breaking the Missional Code: Your Church Can Become a Missionary in Your Community [Hardcover]

Ed Stetzer , David Putman
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 1, 2006

Across North America, many pastors are excited to see churches growing as they achieve their mission to connect the message of the gospel with the community at large. Still others are equally frustrated, following the exact same model for outreach but with lesser results. Indeed, just because a "missional breakthrough" occurs in one place doesn’t mean it will happen the same way elsewhere.

One size does not fit all, but there are cultural codes that must be broken for all churches to grow and remain effective in their specific mission context. Breaking the Missional Code provides expert insight on church culture and church vision casting, plus case studies of successful missional churches impacting their communities.

"We have to recognize there are cultural barriers (in addition to spiritual ones) that blind people from understanding the gospel," the authors write. "Our task is to find the right way to break through those cultural barriers without removing the spiritual and theological ones."

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Editorial Reviews


Dr. Ed tetzer is the best missional thinker in North America. -- Mark Driscoll, authoer of The Radical Reformission

What an extremely exciting book this is! It's books like this which give me hope for the future church. -- Dan Kimball, author of The Emerging Church

About the Author

Ed Stetzer has planted churches in New York, Pennsylvania, and Georgia and transitioned declining churches in Indiana and Georgia. He has trained pastors and church planters on five continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Ed is a columnist for Outreach Magazine and Catalyst Monthly, serves on the advisory council of Sermon Central and Christianity Today's Building Church Leaders, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN.

Ed is Visiting Professor of Research and Missiology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Visiting Research Professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and has taught at fifteen other colleges and seminaries.  He also serves on the Church Services Team at the International Mission Board.

Ed is currently interim teaching pastor of First Baptist Church of Hendersonville, TN.

Ed’s primary role is President of LifeWay Research and LifeWay’s Missiologist in Residence.

He has written the following books:

·    Planting New Churches in a Postmodern Age (2003),
·   Perimeters of Light: Biblical Boundaries for the Emerging Church (w/ Elmer Towns, 2004),
·   Breaking the Missional Code (w/ David Putman, 2006),
·   Planting Missional Churches (2006),
·   Comeback Churches (with Mike Dodson, 2007),
·   11 Innovations in the Local Church (with Elmer Towns and Warren Bird, 2007), and
·   Compelled by Love: The Most Excellent Way to Missional Living (with Philip Nation)

David Putman is executive pastor at Mountain Lake Church, which is located just outside Atlanta, Georgia.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: B&H Academic (May 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805443592
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805443592
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #120,093 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 51 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Recommended with Reservations May 29, 2007
By Hal
This book is about how we do church. More specifically, it is about the need to reinvent or change the church in order to make it more attractive and welcoming to the culture where it is planted.

The book contains some very challenging and helpful information for church planters/pastors/leaders and local church mission teams. For example, the authors begin with a helpful picture of the U.S. changing "glocal" (global/local reality) culture and practical steps to identify the unreached/unchurched people in their community. I also appreciate the emphasis on discipleship and the acknowledgement and warning that we an actually attract a crowd without having a church.

Every church should continually examine human imposed traditions and customs, which can cause a church to stagnate and die. The church must be willing to grow, adapt and try new things to stay healthy and effective. However, the book puts too much emphasis on style, technique and marketing know-how. The authors point to the many "successes" of other churches as a defense of the importance of being missional.

My concern is that while these successful churches have found a niche in their community and experienced growth, some grow as s a result of marketing rather than conversion. When we reinvent the church in order to attract the world, there is a tendency to eliminate or compromise the gospel, because it is divisive, offensive and even foolish to the world. Breaking the Missional Code touches on this fact but continues to advocate style and technique over the importance and power of the gospel itself. There is a great temptation for niche churches to offer another, more palatable, gospel in order to avoid offense.
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39 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read Missiology February 14, 2006
Dr. Ed Stetzer is one of the most important Christians in the country thinking through the issues that arise when the gospel and a culture intersect. There is a great buzz lately about being holistic missional Christians engaging culture but very little insight on what that means or how that is achieved. This book is a very important and timely contribution, particulary for those Christian leaders in the emerging church conversation. This book combines the best of biblical thinking and practical insight to help you interpret your culture so that Jesus can be most effectively introduced to people. Most importantly, Ed is not simply giving prescriptions for reaching a culture but rather principles for reaching any culture with the mind of a professor and the heart of a church planter.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Home Run August 26, 2006
Combining studies on theology, ecclesiology and missiology with a vast array of quotes and insights, this book is a very important book for pastors attempting to transition churches from programmatic to missional or for planters seeking to learn the "code" of the culture where they are planting.

Stetzer and Putnam write, "A church that is incarnational is interested more in the harvest than in the barn."

"The answer is not to make all of our churches look alike. The answer is to have everyone seeking the same thing: to glorify God by being an indigenous expression of church life where they are."

"Over a decade ago, George Hunter began informing us that secular people had 'no Christian memory' and that the church no longer enjoyed a 'home court advantage.'"

"The key to breaking the code of a community is to have the heart of the Father for that community. The only way to do that is by spending serious amounts fo time with the one who loved Jerusalem deeply enough to weep over it."

This book could be described as a how-to manual to understand the people in each culture around a local church and developing a strategy to break those codes, since, using their memorable phrase, cultures in Opp, Alabama are different from those in Seattle, Washington. (I've been through Opp-definitely different.) This is a book that I wish I had had before we started our transition. It you are a pastor praying through the decision to transtion to reach your community, this book is perfect for your congregational leadership.

Other, important points include how the attempted by-the-book cross application of mega-church principles was doomed to fail on a large scale and a brief distinction of how emerging is not the same as missional and a 3 part breakdown of the former (Relevants, Reconstructionists and Revisionists).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars America is now a mission field February 22, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book points out what we already know and that is that the gospel faces an increasing hostile or indifferent culture. Therefore the US has now transitioned to the mission field that is ignorant of the gospel. This book encourages church leaders to break old patterns of thought and be open to new approaches. The authors stress that the church must connect with the community in various ways and must make it "safe" for those being drawn to Christ to enter the fellowship of believers. However I only give this books three stars because 1) much of the advice isn't that novel and 2) there seems to be a "consultant" flavor to the book (a little too much like business marketing). It seems to be a little too much marketing centered rather than God centered. However having stated these reservations, I do recommended the book for those looking for new ideas and approaches to reach out the their community.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great insight into how the church should be a missionary to the community.
Published 1 month ago by Chris Christensen IV
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read with practical advise!
Had to read this book as a part of my masters coursework. I was really surprised by how much I have enjoyed it. Read more
Published 2 months ago by gitfiddle57
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
A must read if you want to get your church to reach more people. (six more words need for submission)
Published 6 months ago by christian van der walt
3.0 out of 5 stars Pastors only please
This book is really written for pastors, not laypeople. There are whole chapters directed to Pastors only. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Betsy K
5.0 out of 5 stars Buckle Up
Directing old thought patterns to where they need to be. This will turn what you thought you knew about church outreach inside out and sometimes sideways.
Published 10 months ago by Paul Meseke
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye Opening
I will be the first to say that there are things in this book that I don't agree with but as a whole I loved this book. Read more
Published 12 months ago by FaithKid
1.0 out of 5 stars One Part Christian - Nine Parts World
This book is used in many seminaries across the land. It is a joke. It propagates the idea that you are to mold your church so as to reflect the makeup of your community. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Edward D. Andrews
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read!
I liked the challenge that we be a missional church, a safe place where the unchurched could be exposed to gospel message and become followers of Christ, and feel comfortable to be... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Eric Suh
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and through provoking
If the local church can grab onto the methods and thought process used among effective missionaries over seas, we might just see more fruit here on American soil.
Published 15 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth Pondering
This book made me think hard about my church. The authors assert that we are living in an essentially pagan culture, and unless churches today adopt a missionary mindset, they are... Read more
Published 22 months ago by David W. Jones
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