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Showing 1-10 of 20 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 30 reviews
on February 20, 2015
If you are looking for statistics on people leaving the church, this book has more than you will ever need. It is certainly helpful in understanding the great great exodus found in our churches. However, this is not necessarily a great book on anecdotal ways to fix this problem. People need to see church as essential, of course, but what this book suggests often is that people will come if they see a need for them to be in a church serving. Often the perceived medicine would be to make sure we give people stuff to do to keep them engaged in church. Many of the examples they gave of people who didn't leave the church, seemed to only stay because they were able to run the sound equipment or were able to take part in the service in one way or another. This is certainly not the Biblical response of a christian. A Christian should want to be in church, if nothing else, simply to worship the God that deserves all praise. We do see in Scripture the call for Christians to be part of a church, so to not do so is disobedience. Also, a Christian benefits from learning about God, having the Word preached to them, involved in corporate prayer and singing, and fellowshiping with other believers. That is essential for the Christian.
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on June 19, 2015
First let me say that this book is highly recommended.

The fatal flaw is a fundamental misunderstanding of statistics that has been used to make erroneous conclusions in regards to everything from diet to global warming. Correlation does not mean causation.

If 75% of people who leave a church say they didn't feel like the church cared, That is not necessarily the cause.

However, if you can battle through the first half of The book where statistic after statistic are stated then you'll find a very practical process of making your church essential.
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on April 24, 2017
This is one of the few books I've bought multiple copies of -- I'm often referring to it, and sometimes give copies out to others.
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on May 9, 2009
Rainer and his son wrote Essential Church: Reclaiming a Generation of Dropouts based on a nationwide survey of those leaving the church in recent years. Their findings are interesting and provocative.

"The American church is dying. Conversions are declining in almost every denomination. Even in some of the more relatively healthy denominations, conversions to Christianity have stagnated..." Page 8

"Perhaps most startling is the gravity of how many exit the church and the pace at which this exodus is occurring. Each generation that passes loses more than the previous generation. Shock does not begin to describe how we felt after reading the research results. The church is losing the generational battle. Not only are we losing our nation to the ways of the world, but we are not winning our own children in Christian families. Multitudes are dropping out of the church." Page 14

They stress like others, that the loss is greatest among the young:

"The average church is losing the young generation, and those young adults are not returning." Page 8
"More than two-thirds of young churchgoing adults in America drop out of church between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two." Page 75

And their explanation makes sense, and squares with what I've seen:

"The most glaring issue of estrangement for eighteen- to twenty-two-year-olds is the interminable gap between their personal beliefs and their church's stated beliefs. ... Only 53 percent of all young adult churchgoers state that they are in line with the beliefs of their church. To be blunt, God has converted our children, but we have failed to disciple them." Page 30

They document not only quantitative decline, but decline in quality:

"One survey states that only half of churches feel that they do a good job of engaging the community and making others feel welcome. Additionally, only 40 percent of these churches feel that they have any real impact on the community of the world. This survey was taken among people within the church. So 60 percent of the people in our churches do not believe they are making an impact on their community." Page 55 56

They also confirm other sources indicating that the dramatic increase in busyness among Americans makes church involvement less likely:

"We're busy people. We bolt about our daily routine in a tornado of rapid activity. Time is a precious commodity and we fill our time with as many activities as possible. We cram one-hour tasks into fifteen minutes, and then we speed twenty-five miles over the speed limit to make up for the rest. We overcommit. We underplan. We procrastinate. We're perpetually late. Then we complain about little sleep and no time for exercise or leisure. Americans spend their time like their money, using as much as they have (if not more) and saving none." Page 74

"Through our research we were not surprised to learn that new and busy schedules often moved the church to a lower priority among the dechurched." Page 75

I was interested by their finding that those leaving don't feel bitter about the church, and still consider themselves Christians. They are leaving because they don't see any reason to continue.

"Particularly with the younger generation, church is another time slot to fill. It is a check box on the weekly to-do list. The churches of the dropouts were not a place where they wanted to spend free time. It was the opposite. Church was just another time waster for them... droves of students are divorcing the church, and they do not cite irreconcilable differences. They do not leave mad. For many, no one compelling factor is pushing them away. They just want a little time off. They want their space. When they leave the church, there is no void. A gaping hole doesn't form when they exit. They leave quietly, and the church continues on as usual." Page 75, 76

Apparently, a big part of this failure has to do with the lack of interest in college students on the part of churches.

"Most churches do not have a college and career ministry for young adults between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two. And the reason is not because these churches are located outside of college towns. Ten percent of the population in the United States is between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four. That's more than thirty million student-age people!" Page 81

To me, this is incomprehensible, although I've seen this myself. We find most churches have little or nothing going on with college students--the most promising age range for raising up workers who serve God long-term. I think it goes to show that churches are more interested in adults who pay the bills than in raising up workers.

This is a good book. Recomended.

Dennis McCallum, author Satan and His Kingdom: What the Bible Says and How It Matters to You and Organic Disciplemaking: Mentoring Others Into Spiritual Maturity And Leadership
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on May 10, 2009
This book is just as factual and real for churches today, as the first book which I read called "High Expectations". Christian churches need to put into practice the teachings of Christ and also take a realistic look at the reasons which Mr. Rainer points out in this book. He not only shows us why we are loosing generations of believers, but how to get them back into church. He explains very plainly, how to shut the back door and NOT the front door.

I would recommend this book and "High Expectations" to any church member, but especially to the Pastor and/or Sunday School Director, as proof that many churches are not doing ministry very well in today's society. Many of them have large membership rolls (for statistics), but only a fraction of those members ever warm a pew on any given church day. Mr. Rainer gives us ways to correct this situtation, which allows us to have a better and more effective church for Christ.

p.s. I had to read Mr. Rainers book "High Expectations" for a class at a Bible Institute where I attend. It spoke so true to me that I purchased additional copies for my Pastor and Sunday School Director. We are now applying principles from the book within our church and growth is taking place. This book "Essential Church", adds more fuel to the spark which was ignited by reading Mr. Rainers solutions in "High Expectations".
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on September 14, 2012
This work has provided a great deal of insight from an honest perspective. The authors are upfront about the fact that this is not a get big quick scheme, rather it is a process of change in the function and philosophy of the church. They offer reseach regarding the mindset of 18 to 22 year olds who have completely evacuated the pews in the church. I was totally surprized by some of the findings and inpired to, at least, consider other avenues of reaching this generation for Christ.
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on December 12, 2016
Held some wonderful insights for me. If the church is not essential why would anybody get involved to begin with?
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on August 9, 2014
Informative. Helpful. Perhaps not all the statistics reported helped the authors' cases in some instances, but on the whole this book is useful for any who want to make their church more meaningful and relevant to modern churchgoers.
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on August 10, 2012
This book is full of great research data concerning the next generation. It not only fully exposes the problem of teen dropouts from the church, it also debunks many of the myths of why are teens are leaving. If a local church were to respond to the strategies in this book, it could not help but increase it's retention rate of the next generation.
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on June 11, 2015
If you liked "Simple Church" then you will love this book too. It's very convicting. There is plenty of work I need to do at church now.
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