From Publishers Weekly
From the subtitle to the research methods, this is a book-length, church-focused homage to Jim Collins's business bestseller Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't
. Rainer, a dean at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and president of a church consulting firm, sent a Collins-inspired team of researchers to pore through previously collected data on "effective evangelistic churches." The team was looking for churches that had gone through a period of stagnation before experiencing a "breakout" period of vitality, measured largely through membership growth—while keeping the same pastoral leadership. These criteria excluded both churches that had grown consistently or churches that grew after changing pastors. Of the 50,000 churches in the seminary's database, only 13 qualified. Rainer seeks to identify the secret of those churches' success and draws some telling comparisons with similar churches that were in gradual decline (and persistent denial). But his conclusions are consistently tainted by what statisticians call "post hoc bias"—there is no way to prove that the factors he identifies, which track closely with Collins's conclusions, were responsible for these churches' growth. The real value of this book is the hope Rainer instills that even churches that appear moribund can see remarkable change—if their leaders are willing, in Rainer's words, to "confront reality." (Feb.)
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'...a refreshingly candid overview....A great read.' (enrichment