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Comeback Churches: How 300 Churches Turned Around and Yours Can, Too Hardcover – May 1, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"As a successful pastor, church planter, researcher, and advisor to thousands of churches, Ed Stetzer speaks from a wealth of experience with all kinds of churches. Now, in one volume, your church can benefit from his wisdom. This book is a winner!" -- Dr. Rick Warren, author of The Purpose-Driven Life and The Purpose-Driven Church

"Comeback Churches is more than a pep talk. It's rooted in the 'right stuff' to bring a congregation out of the dismal into the vital." -- Jack W. Hayford, President, International Foursquare Churches, Chancellor, The King's College and Seminary

"Finally, a book of practical advice that is based on research. I have seen it both ways- endless research with little advice, or, much advice with little facts. This book strikes the balance with perfection." -- Elmer Towns, Dean of Liberty University

"First and foremost, it is biblical. Second, it is well researched. And third, it is immensely practical and applicable . . . this book should be in the hands of hundreds of thousands of pastors, staff, and church leaders. Simply stated, it is just that good." -- Thom S. Rainer, author of Simple Church, president/CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources

"This is the most helpful, practical book on church revitalization I've read this century." -- Leonard Sweet, Drew Theological School, George Fox University

From the Inside Flap

“We don’t want our church to die.”

The congregant’s concern matches reliable data that shows the North American Church is, in fact, shrinking. The general adult population of the United States may have grown by a predictable fifteen percent in recent years, but the number of unchurched adults has also, meanwhile, increased by a more shocking ninety-two percent (source: The Barna Group).

Perhaps you’ve noticed: large church buildings that were filled in the 1950s and 60s now hold a fraction of their capacity. And recent research suggests that the perceived church growth of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s had more to do with a redistribution of believers than reaching the unchurched.

Overall, our churches are stagnant, in need of a return to healthy evangelistic growth.

Leading missiologist Ed Stetzer sheds new light on a crucial issue in Comeback Churches. Coauthored with pastor Mike Dodson, their exceptionally researched book reports on more than 300 formerly declining congregations across ten different denominations, ringing the bell about what it takes today to revitalize a weakened body of believers.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: B&H Books (May 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805445366
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805445367
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,306 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By George P. Wood TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
According to Leadership journal, "85 percent of churches in the United States have plateaued or declining attendance." That's approximately 340,000 churches. Mine is one of them.

During our heyday in the 1980s, we had two services in an auditorium that seats 760 people. Today, we have one service and an average of 100 people in attendance. We're almost 87-percent empty.

But I'm not worried for two reasons. First, I know that God wants us grow. Second, God has provided plenty of tools to help us grow.

One of those tools is Comeback Churches by Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson. It identifies five crucial issues in revitalizing your church: leadership, vibrant faith, lay ministry, intentional evangelism, and celebrative but orderly worship.

Church revitalization requires strong, change-oriented leadership from pulpit and pew. To make a comeback, your church needs the right people in the right jobs doing the right thing.

But leadership is not everything. Members of comeback churches must also have a faith that is characterized by personal commitment to Jesus and the church's mission, a servant attitude, and strategic prayer.

In revitalized churches, pastors have limited roles, and they invite the laity to exercise their God-given ministries. And the whole church is involved in intentional evangelism, gradually incorporating unbelievers into the community and then into the faith.

Finally, comeback churches have celebrative (but orderly) worship services. More often than not, their musical style is contemporary, and they do everything with excellence.

If, like me, you're the pastor of a church that's seen better days, read Comeback Churches, and discover that your church's best days are still in front of you.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Comeback Churches is an excellent resource for those eighty to ninety percent of churches that are plateaued or declining. In my eleven years of pastoral ministry I have served three churches in this category of needing to make a comeback and have read many books on the subject, and this is the best I have read. There are some books on this subject that are written from the perspective of how one pastor led his church to change and growth, and that is inspiring, but that isn't necessarily going to help me. This book is grounded in reality since the authors are both pastors, so they aren't just researching the subject, they are living it; and they studied 324 churches that have successfully made the comeback. These churches came from ten different denominations, of different sizes, locations and histories. Because of that broad background, the principles can be applied to most any church in need of a comeback. The book is thorough; covering a number of subjects from worship to finances to evangelism to what books these comeback pastors are reading; as well as factors that hinder the comeback and how to address those. Comeback Churches is a great textbook on how to lead a church from a position of plateau or decline to growth, and it is also a great book on leadership. After reading the book it is not at all surprising that it is recommended by Rick Warren, Thom Rainer, Elmer Towns, Leonard Sweet, Jack Hayfard and Gary McIntosh.
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Format: Hardcover
I am not normally a fan of church growth books. Too many times I think they are all about marketing, making church about product placement and promotion instead of loving God and loving people. I have come away from some books on church growth convinced that it could all be done without reference to or dependence upon God at all.

It was with this skepticism that I came to Stetzer's and Dodson's Comeback Churches. I was pleasantly surprised to read a book that pointed toward the biblical foundations of the church and biblical patterns for its growth. The book is a great encouragement that churches in decline can be revitalized. The reader will be challenged but at the same time stories of leaders and churches sprinkled through the book give the reader hope. I believe that leaders who take the message of this book to heart will be used by God to increase the numbers of Comeback Churches all over the world.
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It's no secret that most American Evangelical churches are in plateau and decline, but what can anyone do about it? Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson have developed a good book for helping these churches recapture their sense of calling and vision and get them back on the road to church health in the book "Comeback Churches: How 300 Churches Turned Around and Yours Can, Too"

The book is based on Dodson's thinking and work in his doctoral thesis "An Analysis of Factors Leading to the Revitalization of Comeback Churches". I like this book because it doesn't give what most are looking for-a cookbook of programs to try to use in church planning. Too many ministry leaders want pat answers and canned resources they hope exist that will automate growth. The mistake I see churches making is too they often choose expediency and pragmatism rather than principles and healthy practices. The "method" Stetzer and Dodson recommend is to practice sound missiology.

The fact is the belief in programs as a solution for church growth is false. What churches need is more than promotional packaging that makes them "seem" more relevant, they need to "become" relevant by putting into practice good missional thinking. There is no short-cut to missional ministry.
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