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Building the Body: 12 Characteristics of a Fit Church Paperback – January 2, 2018
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From the Back Cover
Is your church performing at its highest level?
Just as a physically healthy person might not actually be fit enough to run a 5K, so churches can appear healthy--with no obvious issues, maintaining a healthy size--but not exhibit fitness. A fit church is one that is not satisfied with merely coasting along with no problems. A fit church is actively making disciples, maturing in faith, developing strong leaders, reaching out to the community, and more. Building the Body unveils the twelve characteristics of fit churches and shows pastors and church leaders how to move their church through five levels of fitness, from beginner all the way to elite.
"Building the Body powerfully draws on the biblical imagery of the church while taking the concept of church health to a whole new level. Becoming fit is presented in a way that motivates rather than produces guilt, and the combination of principles and practices apply to churches at all levels of development."--Wayne Schmidt, general superintendent, the Wesleyan Church
"Practical steps to the next level--that's what this book offers. Wherever your church lies along a continuum of twelve factors (e.g., outreach, stewardship, worship, disciple making), McIntosh and Stevenson give concrete strategies for advancing to the next level . . . and then the next level . . . and then the next level."--Donald R. Sunukjian, chair, department of Christian ministry and leadership, Talbot School of Theology
"A practical, informative, doable resource for leaders and churches who want not only to get better but also to get as strong or fit as possible for the good of the kingdom of Jesus Christ."--Jim Dunn, vice president of church relations, Wesleyan Investment Foundation
Gary L. McIntosh is president of the Church Growth Network and professor of Christian ministry and leadership at Talbot School of Theology. He is an internationally known speaker and the author of many books, including Biblical Church Growth, Beyond the First Visit, What Every Pastor Should Know, and Growing God's Church. He lives in California.
Phil Stevenson serves as the district superintendent of the Pacific-Southwest District of the Wesleyan Church. A visiting professor at six universities and seminaries, he has an extensive background in coaching denominational leaders, pastors, and church planters on evangelism and church growth. He is the author of several books and lives in California.
About the Author
Gary L. McIntosh (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is president of the Church Growth Network and professor of Christian ministry and leadership at Talbot School of Theology. He is an internationally known speaker and church consultant who has written 25 books, including Biblical Church Growth, Beyond the First Visit, What Every Pastor Should Know, and Growing God's Church. He lives in California.
Phil Stevenson (DMin, Talbot School of Theology) serves as the district superintendent of The Pacific-Southwest District of the Wesleyan Church. A visiting professor at six universities and seminaries, he has an extensive background in coaching denominational leaders, pastors, and church planters on evangelism and church growth. He is the author of six books and lives in California.
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Top customer reviews
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The book is divided into four broad categories related to health and fitness—cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, and flexibility. Within each category are three characteristics of church fitness—outreach, effective evangelism, community engagement, personal ministry, God-honoring stewardship, leadership development, Christ-exalting worship, disciple-making strategies, pastoral leadership, loving community, vision-directed systems, and divine empowerment.
What sets this book apart from most church-growth books is the inclusion of a very practical strategy to identify where your church and ideas on how to move it forward. The authors describe five levels of church—beginner, novice, intermediate, advanced, and elite. They describe how each characteristic is demonstrated within that type of church. They also include practical suggestions for each type of church to strengthen the characteristic and how to move to the next level.
Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.
Among the many topics addressed include:
1. 10 infections that keep churches from being outwardly focused.
2. 4 questions for developing effective evangelism.
3. 8 guidelines for engaging the church's local community.
4. 7 ways fit churches get members to serve.
5. 9 ways churches can be sensitive to the needs of those who serve.
6. 9 qualities of people who develop leaders.
7. 5 principles of effective disciple making.
8. 2 reasons why pastors fail to lead their churches.
9. 6 ways fit churches build a loving community.
10. 6 suggested steps for raising and training leaders.
Very readable and full of practical examples (a welcomed relief from some Christian titles I have recently read that are long on pious platitudes and short on practical application), the book will be a valuable aid for pastors and laypeople interested in strengthening their local church. Will be a helpful future reference.
I was given a review copy by Baker Books in exchange for a fair review.
This book had a lot of potential but falls short because of wrong prioritization in the church. The authors intended goal is to guide churches to greater levels of fitness as a church body.
The first section addresses the evangelistic fitness of the church. The second, member engagement in the ministry of the church. The third, the worship and leadership of the church. The fourth section focuses on love, church systems, and prayer. With the final section giving practical ways to measure progress in the different areas addressed.
I would argue that chapters 10 and 12 should have been placed up front and that they should have been prioritized as a greater marker of the fitness of a church than flexibility. In fact these two loving community are not just markers of fitness but they are markers of whether a church is indeed a biblical church. If a church is not a loving community it is not in any sense healthy or a biblical church. If a church lacks divine empowerment it may be many things but it is not a healthy church, if it is a church at all. This book would have been much better if it had not placed numbers as the greatest metric of a church's fitness level.
Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.
Most recent customer reviews
By: Gary L. McIntosh and Phil Stevenson
Building the Body was a great read.Read more