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The Externally Focused Quest: Becoming the Best Church for the Community Hardcover – April 12, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0470500781 ISBN-10: 0470500786 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (April 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470500786
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470500781
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #367,798 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

The externally Focused Quest

The attractional church is about getting the community into the church. The missional, externally focused church is about getting the church into the community. Incarnational ministry, at its heart, is taking church to people by helping believers live out their calling among people who do not yet believe and follow Jesus.
—From the Foreword by Alan Hirsch

Most churches, blatantly or subtly, have an unspoken objective—"How can we be the 'best church in our community?'"—and they staff, budget, and plan accordingly. How a church answers that question determines its entire approach to its members, staff, prayers, finances, time, technology, and facilities. Becoming an externally focused church is not about becoming the best church in the community. The externally focused church asks, "How can we be the best church for our community?" That one little preposition changes everything. And that is the big question this new book from the authors of The Externally Focused Church seeks to answer.

In The Externally Focused Quest, Eric Swanson and Rick Rusaw show church leaders how to transform their churches from being internally focused to being more oriented to the community around them. They use nine big missional concepts that need to be addressed in the quest to become the best church for the community: focus, purpose, scope, missions, partnering, evangelism, systems, creativity, and outcomes. Understanding and applying the truths of each concept will provide many of the tools leaders need to take their churches on the externally focused quest. Written by the cofounders of the Externally Focused Network, this book presents a highly practical approach that gives step-by-step guidance for churches to become truly externally focused without giving up the programs that serve their members.

From the Back Cover

Praise for The Externally Focused Quest

"Swanson and Rusaw are unmatched in their grasp of church and culture! This book contains the information and insight that will resource my preaching, refine my strategy, and reignite my passion as a pastor."

[ Dr. Joel C. Hunter, senior pastor, Northland – A Church Distributed, Longwood, Florida]

"The Externally Focused Quest is a must-read for every follower of Christ today. Like me, you will come away with a heart bursting with fresh vision for the world outside the four walls of your church. I am making this book required reading for students in the colleges I oversee. It will challenge and dismantle your excuses; then it will inspire you, instruct you, and compel you to action. I am different for having read this book."

[Dr. Wayne Cordeiro, founding and senior pastor of New Hope Christian Fellowship and chancellor of Pacific Rim Christian College Consortium]

"Eric Swanson and Rick Rusaw continue to challenge the church to look outward—to join Jesus on his mission in a hurting world, and to show and share the love of Christ. If you are serious about being the church for your community, this book will help provide the insight and tools you need to make it happen."

[Ed Stetzer, president, LifeWay Research]

"Wake up, Church, and read the challenges of our world as opportunities for the church. We are called to serve, and at no time in history has the church had such amazing opportunities to be a transformative presence in the world. In The Externally Focused Quest, Swanson and Rusaw set our hearts on fire for becoming the church that will change the world and then provide concrete examples of how to begin wherever you are in the church and the world. Swanson and Rusaw are redefining the church to be not simply a group of people who believe the same things, but a group of people who are on a mission together as big as the world we are called to serve."

[Diana Garland, dean, School of Social Work, Baylor University]

"I am a big fan of Swanson and Rusaw. They are helping the church become what she has been destined for—to be outwardly focused. This is another great book that will help you get beyond yourself."

[Steve Sjogren, president,]

More About the Author

A bit about me....I have a passion for engaging churches worldwide in the needs and dreams of their communities so a to bring about spiritual and societal transformation. My wife Liz and I served with Campus Crusade for Christ for twenty-five years before joining the staff of Leadership Network where I currently work as a "missional specialist," serving as Leadership Community Director for Externally Focused Churches, Missional Renaissance and Global Connection Churches working with scores of missional churches around North America. I also often work with leaders around the world who are focused on kingdom transformation. In 2007 I completed a D.Min. degree in "Transformational Leadership in the Global City" from Bakke Graduate University. With Rick Rusaw I am the co-author of The Externally Focused Church, Living a Life on Loan, The Externally Focused Life, and The Externally Focused Quest. With my long-time friend, Sam Williams, I also co-authored To Transform a City: Whole Church, Whole Gospel, Whole City. I've been married to Liz for over 35 years, have three married children, five grandchildren and resides outside of Boulder Colorado. You can contact me at

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 14 customer reviews
We are on a "Quest" to "Become the Best Church FOR our Community."
Doreen Gardner
All of the church planters, church restart pastors and other church leaders that I know need to read and pass on this book to those they lead.
David W Mills
A couple really good take away's from this book and a lot of stories make it worthy of reading.
Trent A. Shivley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John Gibbs TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The title and cover of this book by Eric Swanson and Rick Rusaw may not be particularly alluring, but the book is filled with inspiring ideas about how local churches can escape from the confines of their buildings and become a force for good in their local communities.

The authors provide plenty of Biblical and theoretical context, but ultimately it is not very difficult or expensive for an internally-focused church to start becoming externally-focused. All you have to do is find some unmet needs in your local community and start addressing them. Most communities will have schools that can always use a helping hand with building maintenance or helping children learn to read. Any church can start sending some people to help out; it does not require a megachurch or a multi-million dollar budget.

The examples quoted in the book demonstrate that once you start serving your local community in a small way, opportunities to make a bigger impact will come. This is a very helpful book for church leaders of any theological persuasion, because it provides inspiration for simple easy-to-do ways of reversing a church's decline into irrelevance.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Christina Liggett on May 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The authors inspired and challenged me to hope for more from the churches in our cities. They convincingly illustrate with case studies how the church is becoming a major player in tackling the problems that are the most important of the day, and winning the respect and appreciation from people who used to not notice the church at all, or dread it altogether.

This book is a must on the shelf of anyone interested in communicating or even better, implementing, a change in thinking and paradigms from an inwardly focused church that exists for its own sake (as good as that can be), to a church that can truly make a measurable impact in the community -- and in the process see the gospel of Jesus grow and change the lives of its members in breadth and depth.

It is effective in doing this by providing insightful analogies that help communicate a shift in thinking. Many of these analogies are the chapter titles. Perhaps the most exciting part of the book is the myriad of current examples where this shift in attitude and approach is playing out. The stories span the country from east to west, and even from around the globe. The sheer volume and diversity of the stories has the effect of building enthusiasm and energy to get out and start. I wanted to yell, "Yes! This is what I've always wanted!"

The tone of the book is positive. It focuses on what is being done right, which motivates others to join in. The stories provide countless practical ideas to get started. It is possible! There is something that can happen in my church!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Terry W. Dorsett on November 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Over time it is very easy for a church to become so focused on itself that it forgets to reach out to the community. Having led a church that was over 150 years old, I learned this first hand. But if a church will just begin to touch its community by meeting some felt need, the community will begin to respond. The more the community responds, the more needs the church finds to meet. It becomes a cycle of health instead of a long slow decline.

This book gives both real life examples and philosophical concepts to help a church make the transition from inward focused to outward focused. I would strongly urge any pastor to read this, but especially pastors who are serving congregations that have been in existance for 50 years or more.

Helping a church become externally focused is not easy, but it can be done.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Howard A Levin on June 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
`The Externally Focused Quest' presents a working picture of the Church as Jesus intended it to be - fully functioning in extending both the proclamation and demonstration of the Gospel into the community. Whether you are a leader laboring to transform your church back to biblically mandated incarnational paradigms or you are trying to figure out how you might turn your passion into action, this book has something for you!

On first glance, one might be tempted to see `The Externally Focused Quest' as a sequel to the author's earlier work, `The Externally Focused Church.' It is in the sense that stories and lessons are updated, but where the earlier work represented a primer making the case for the `why' of merging good news and good deeds, this newest work contributes more of the `whats' and `hows.' But, it's not about a rote, plug n' play approach to change! In each chapter, the `Leadership Challenges' pose important questions on discovering and acting upon God's unique design for "becoming the best church FOR the community."

As a practitioner facilitating missional transformation processes, this book provides an outline for interventions aimed at establishing missional clarity leading to improved redemptive outcomes - exploring the systems, innovation, repurposing of resources and partnering that connect these two. The book is very helpful in finding the balance in exploiting the strengths of 'attractional' modes of church with incarnational ministry.

Importantly, `The Externally Focused Quest' builds upon what Scripture says about mission and applies these truths to the realities of today's culture. There is no question in my mind that the message and methods advocated are relevant and timely. Much is at stake and the authors are uniquely positioned to speak into what Kingdom-centered impact and leadership look like today.
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