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Unbinding the Gospel: Real Life Evangelism, 2nd Edition Paperback – September 1, 2008


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Unbinding the Gospel: Real Life Evangelism, 2nd Edition + Unbinding Your Church (Pastor's and Leaders' Guide to the Real Life Evangelism Series) + Unbinding Your Heart: 40 Days of Prayer and Faith Sharing (Unbinding the Gospel)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 210 pages
  • Publisher: Chalice Press; 2nd edition (September 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0827238088
  • ISBN-13: 978-0827238084
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 7 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,274 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"...the `don't ask, don't tell' evangelism program will not reverse the trend. Humor, whimsy and joy in the faith will serve us better. Reese's book is written to provoke, to tease and to charm us back into telling our story." -- The Christian Century

"...with clarity and sound theological grounding, we are invited into a grand adventure....could be a watershed book for mainline Protestantism." -- Congregations

"Don't miss this one!" -- Evangelism Connections

"[Reese's] ideas are resonating with enthusiastic clergy & lay audiences all across the ...theological spectrum." --Christian Feminism Today

From the Publisher

Selected by Christian Century as featured "Take and Read" Book, 2007 Book Issue!

"...the `don't ask, don't tell" evangelism program will not reverse the trend. Humor, whimsy and joy in the faith will serve us better. Reese's book is written to provoke, to tease and to charm us back into telling our story."
The Christian Century

"...with clarity and sound theological grounding, we are invited into a grand adventure....could be a watershed book for mainline Protestantism."
Alban Institute, Congregations

"...Reese's book is so important...That's why when you turn the last page, you can't just let this be another book you read. You need to let her message affect you and your faith community, and through you, other people."
Brian McLaren

"I expect the Real Life Evangelism Series to move at least 20,000 churches into their first invitational foray into the community in anyone's memory."
George G. Hunter, III, Distinguished Professor of Evangelism & Church Growth, Asbury Theological Seminary

"Based on extensive and authoritative research of Martha Grace Reese, and rooted in her passionate love to God and respect for the mainline church....the Real Life Evangelism Series provides the most competent guide I know to mainline evangelism....realistic, clear and direct; but also hopeful, humble and genuinely spiritual. Anyone who cares about and works in the cause of mainline evangelism will find this book a treasure."
Todd Hunter, National Director, Alpha USA; Former Director, Vineyard Churches USA --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Martha Grace Reese, JD, MDiv embodies the experience of a researcher, corporate attorney, congregational pastor, middle judicatory minister, church consultant & author. Her best selling books, the Unbinding the Gospel Series, arise out of four major, national research projects funded by the Lilly Endowment. All of her work focuses on evangelism, spiritual leadership and congregation transformation. See www.MarthaGraceReese.com for more information.

Customer Reviews

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And they joined in groups to pray for each other... for the church..
Sandra C. Smith
Her research and the conclusions she draws from that research are presented in a wonderfully readable book.
RevDrBill
Want a great, easy to read book that just may CHANGE your life and your church?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Sandra C. Smith on March 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
If anyone had tried to tell me we could get 80 church members to come to a Saturday retreat to talk about Evangelism, I would have told them they were crazy... We're a mainline church - and Evangelism just isn't something we are comfortable with..

But Unbinding the Gospel motivated my church to move in ways I couldn't imagine.. As the book suggested, we prayed - not just once, but faithfully... and 80 people read the book and showed up on a Saturday.. And they joined in groups to pray for each other... for the church.. and for all those who needed to hear the story..

I have been an active layperson in my church for a decade.. We've tried many things along the way.. This book challenged us to be more faithful - and to share our faith more faithfully. I'm convinced it has planted mustard seeds that will bloom in ways only God can imagine.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Laverman on January 4, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Unbinding the Gospel, Real Life Evangelism, Martha Grace Reese, Chalice Press, St. Louis, Mo., 2006.

Who says mainline churches can't do evangelism? Former pastor Martha Grace began a Lilly grant study to prove some can and do. Several years later she has come to the conclusion that though they can they need conversion themselves, first. The purpose of the mainline evangelism project was to find churches that are doing effective evangelism. What she found was that only 150 out of 30,000 mainline churches were. That's a demoralizing one half of one percent. Enough to dull the edge of anyone's resolve, but Martha Grace was convinced that things could be different, and that there are actions that every church along the full spectrum of theology and styles could take to reverse the sad trend of the last four decades. This book will convince you that she is right! And will (more importantly) inspire you to act on what you have learned.

From the bad news statistics we move quickly to "three stories of victory" that show us how evangelism is being done in "real life," in some mainline churches throughout North America. The inspiration these real churches provide help us to understand what new members want and need and how they are finding it in the transformation of their own lives by the gospel of Jesus Christ. What we find here is not more idealistic rhetoric but natural, proven ways and concrete examples of some of our churches that are really touching their communities with Christian hope and making a definite difference in their neighborhoods.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Charles Denison on August 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
Unbinding the Gospel is a very useful book in a field overfull with relatively theoretical books. It is fact filled, starting with a base in a solid survey of growing churches. But it gets to real issues of parish ministry and outreach. The survey asked the right questions about how to engineer any kind of growth in a more main-line culture and theology, in which, specifically, it is NOT asumed that eternal damnation is at stake.

Ms. Reese and her associates designed a telling survey. They discovered that only a small percentage of churches "so conceived and so dedicated" have experienced significant growth. That is the bad news. But then they delved into the culture, leadership, spirituality and experience of those churches. Very good news here!

Conclusions? The book is designed primarily to be read with a group in a parish. The conclusions reached are best implemented in small goups. Simply stated, the growth of these more open churches was related in each case to a sincere spirituality. The experience of God is paramount, and crosses theological and cultural boundaries. While it may be too simplistic to say that where there is real prayer, churches will grow, it is a clear conclusion that where there is no prayer -- where there is no experience of a living God, churches will wither. And virtually each of the interviewed leaders, while diverse in ministry style and tradition, rooted their ministires in prayer and spirituality.

These are stories of churches doing the possible: of committing to six months of prayer before launching any outreach program, of reaching out to a small rural and demographically static community, of actually growing a congregation!

Very encouraging and helpful work.
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37 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Mark C. Tubbs on June 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
Would I recommend Unbinding the Gospel? Not really. Does it disappoint? In places, yes. Does it excite me? Oh yes. Let me explain.

I appreciate the Christ-centeredness of its title and the promise of the subtitle and cover image, a red ribbon being cut with scissors. An apt metaphor, I thought, for `unbinding the gospel' and practicing real life evangelism. The Greek verb luo means `to loose, to unbind.' So far so good. But for all the red ribbons I perceived, some red flags were apparent as well.

Author Martha Grace Reese's main thesis is that mainline churches - of which she used to be a pastor and is now a church consultant - need to recover the practice of gospel evangelism, not just out of a sense of duty, but a sense of joy. Mainline churches have so much to share, so much to offer, that they are doing the world a disservice by functioning in maintenance mode, she maintains. The book's stated purpose is to be used as a seven to ten-week small group study which aims to encourage committed leaders and laypeople to share their faith. Set out in three parts, the first part of the book asks the what, why, and how of evangelism in mainline churches, the second part gives some examples of effective mainline evangelism, and the third part suggests possibilities for churches that have yet to engage in evangelism.

First, the red ribbons. It's always a time to celebrate when any church, movement, or denomination rediscovers the apostolic mandate to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. In the mainline denominations, evangelism has apparently been relegated to a backseat, neglected for decades and often actively discouraged by pastors and seminaries. Reese's book seeks to remedy the widespread desertion of the core commandment in the Great Commission.
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