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The Continuing Conversion of the Church (Gospel & Our Culture) Paperback – March 20, 2000

4.4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Academy of Parish ClergyBook of the Year (2001)

Missio Apostolica
"In a market saturated with books on evangelism that describe specific methods and programs, Darrell Guder's work is a refreshing theological consideration of the topic. . . In The Continuing Conversion of the Church, Darrell Guder provides a theology of evangelism that takes seriously the changing cultural situation of North America, the church as an instrument of God's mission, and the biblical foundation of evangelism. His work provides a balanced treatment of the culture, the church and the gospel for a church challenged by recent changes in the North American mission field."

Theological Book Review
"This is a good book for all who wish to reassess their own grasp of the Church's evangelistic calling and are not afraid to be challenged to re-imagine the Church to make this calling fruitful. It would be one essential book for Church leaders to read and meditate on during a sabbatical period of leave."

"This inspiring book, addressed to a large audience of educated Christians and theology students, deals with the foundations of evangelism, the basic challenge to translate the gospel in every human culture, and the continuing conversion of the church that is constantly evangelized throughout the historical unfolding of its mission."

Net Results
"The serious pastor, student, or layperson will find this book an excellent resource."

International Bulletin of Missionary Research
"This readable and very well-documented book is a vital resource for church leaders who seek to orient their faith communities to God's mission."

About the Author

Darrell L. Guder is Henry Winters Luce Professor Emeritus of Missional and Ecumenical Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary. 
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Product Details

  • Series: Gospel & Our Culture
  • Paperback: 238 pages
  • Publisher: Eerdmans; Seventh Impression edition (March 20, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080284703X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802847034
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #509,520 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Stuart Dauermann on May 31, 2007
Format: Paperback
When he wrote this book, Darrell Guder was Peachtree Professor of Evangelism and Church Growth at Columbia Thoelogical Seminary, Decatur, GA. He is now Princeton Theological Seminary's Dean of Academic Affairs and the Henry Winters Luce Professor of Missional and Ecumenical Theology.

Originally planned as a revision of his "Be My Witnesses," this book is instead its sequel. His thesis is that "the only way that evangelization can truly be the heart of ministry will be through the continuing conversion of the church," which can only take place through authentic interaction with the very gospel it professes, communicates and embodies.

The book is divided into three parts. In Part I, "The Church's Calling to Evangelistic Ministry," Guder examines in Chapter One the twentieth century debate about the church's mission against the background of a survey of church history and the prevalence of "diffusionist mission." This is Lamin Sanneh's term for Christendom's wedding of mission with colonialism, spreading the "cultural advantages" and culture patterns of the West in the guise of spreading the gospel. World War I and World War II overturned Christian self-confidence, while exposing westerners to the sophistication of other cultures they had formerly imagined as being pagan, uncomplicated, and monolithically needy. This encounter resulted in the Church reconsidering the nature of mission in a post-colonial world, finding its center in the Missio Dei (Mission of God), a theme highlighted in Karl Barth's address at the 1932 Brandenburg Missionary Conference.
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Guder does an excellent job of explaining the historical development of the current status of much of the church in the United States today. He describes the problem as "reductionism," a reducing of the good news to something less than the full gospel and then claiming that this reduced gospel is the full package. Western Christianity has consistently been reduced to the salvation of the individual soul and has forgotten that our identity as Christians is to be Christ's witnesses in the world, the community formed by God's calling that is sent to bear witness in our words, actions, and in community life. Guder's critique is much needed today with so much focus on strategies for church growth, marketing, focus on the individual, and use of secular big business methods. What the church needs is to be continually converted itself, engaging in constant Bible study and repentance from our culturally based reductionisms. Unless the church is continuously being evangelized itself, it cannot truly engage in the evangelization of the world.
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Format: Paperback
Dr. Guder has laid a great introduction to missional theology. Identifying key problems that have faced the church during the "Christendom" era into a post-Christendom world, he lays out how the church can adapt to a world that has been secularized. He notes how the gospel under the control of Western culture has been reduced in the past to simple formulas that don't capture the fullness of the New Testament and how this has effected the Church's mission. In response to this reductionism, Guder pushes for a theology that recaptures the importance of the missio Dei, the mission of God, and how the church becomes the community sent into the world for the world rather than the bastion or institution of salvation. For anyone looking for an introduction to what missional theology is all about, I highly recommend this book. It is readable and written compassionately.
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Format: Paperback
Darrell Guder, The Continuing Conversion of the Church (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000)

Reviewed by Darren Cronshaw

Guder continues the agenda of the Gospel and our Culture Network in exploring how the church can express its missionary vocation. A lecturer in evangelism and church growth, he says that evangelism needs to be rethought and redirected, beginning with the continuing conversion of the church itself. This is where the book is most radical - in suggesting that evangelism is not just for unbelievers but for the church in its cultural captivity. The church needs conversion, he says, from the cultural compromise and perverse and deeply engrained gospel reductionism that focuses on individual salvation for heaven, meeting needs and bringing benefits, rather than preparing God's people for witness. This is reflected, for example, in worship seen as an end in itself to 'get something out of' rather than as God's preparation for sending. Guder overviews the church's shift away from a biblical theology of evangelism and suggests the institutional and other changes necessary for its recovery. He offers a solid theological reflection on the church's witness as the calling of the church including the breadth of the gospel, centrality of the cross, church membership and nature of leadership in empowering God's people for witness.

Review originally appeared in Darren Cronshaw, `The Emerging Church: Introductory Reading Guide', Zadok Papers, S143 (Summer 2005).
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