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The Externally Focused Church Paperback – June 9, 2004

4.7 out of 5 stars 66 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Rick Rusaw is senior minister of LifeBridge Christian Church in Longmont, Colorado, a congregation known for its community involvement and service.

Erick Swanson works with the Leadership Network as Leadership Community Director for externally focused churches, impacting dozens of churches around the U.S. He also serves as a consultant for CitiReach International, helping pastors engage their communities in cities around the world. Formerly Eric served with Campus Crusade for Christ for 25 years. He has a passion for engaging churches worldwide in the needs and dreams of their communities and is coauthor of The Externally Focused Church and author of numerous articles about churches and that are transforming their communities.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 222 pages
  • Publisher: Group Publishing (June 9, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764427407
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764427404
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #129,969 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Andrew McCullough on December 28, 2004
Format: Paperback
I can't say enough about this book. It radically changed my thinking of how to reach the world. Before this book, I saw 'Good Works' and 'Good News' as two opposing strategies divided by liberal and fundamental camps of the church. It was as if we came to a fork in the road in church history and one went down one path and one the other. In my pride, I felt that 'Good News' was the road less traveled because 'Good Works' was and didn't get to the root of the problem. After reading Swanson and Rusaw's book, I see that instead of two roads that they are one and that the avenue to the 'Good News' being heard among the nations is paved with 'Good Works'. 'Good Works' and 'Good News' are not two strategies that should divide the body but are to have a symbiotic relationship to transform the heart of man and a community. The authors point out that while'Good Works' can not change a man's heart they prepare him to hear the 'Good News'. 'Works' gives the 'News' credibility to be heard. Not only do the authors present a biblical basis for this theology, they present a myriad of practical examples of how to get your church involved. I highly recommend this book to anyone in the ministry who wants to see their church get out of the pew and help see their community transformed.
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Format: Paperback
After I finished The Externally Focused Church, I fell to my knees and asked God to give me the grace to live up to the clear, compelling challenge the authors have so brilliantly presented. Eric Swanson and Rick Rusaw have "dusted off" a vital, ancient truth that is indispensible to the health and relevance of the church in an age of political activism and partisan rancor. Through Biblical analysis, church history and numerous, very readable, modern examples, they show the transcedant power of "good works" as both the platform for and the ultimate apologetic of a vital church. So, rather than shout at the "darkness," as we are so prone to do, the authors have shown us just how powerful a church community can be when it shifts the focus from self-preservation to community involvement. I heartily recommend this book. It is on my all time best list! Geoff Gorsuch, Executive Director of Men's Ministry for the Navigators.
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Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful book for anyone interested is getting a better understanding of our roles as Christians in the world. It is both practical and inspiring. Since the 19th century when reason and faith separated, Christians have separated over good works and good deeds and now Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson call us back to apply both faith and works together. They creatively share their own experiences in trusting God for the results in ways that much of the Christian world has long since forgotten. They challenge us to service, where good deeds and good works intersect, where mercy and justice meet.

God does have a role for cities in His economy. This book not only gives hope as we see some results unfold, but it gives practical ideas on how any individual may play a part.

I recommended the Externally Focused Church to anyone who is serious about impacting their community with the hope also of having God produce a movement of spiritual multiplication.
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Format: Paperback
Swanson and Rusaw have produced a work of excellence in "The Externally Focused Church." Both authors brilliantly align their passion for outreach with practical tips and guidelines for building an externally focused church. In the words of Brennan Manning, "When being is divorced from doing, pious thoughts become a substitute for washing dirty feet." These authors go beyond the mere "pious thoughts" of an evangelistic ecclesiology through extensive recollections of their own involvement in building external churches. Touching on a now quietly burning fire, Swanson and Rusaw's work will only grow in significance as the externally focused movement is quickly taking on the great momentum of the church growth movement. "The Externally Focused Church" is a must read for any church seeking to impact its community.
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Format: Paperback
Rusaw and Swanson use this book to tell dozens or even hundreds of stories of churches around the country and world who are impacting their communities in awesome ways through serving and meeting needs. The shift in focus from how the church can take care of itself to how the church should bless the world is refreshing.

One of the things about this book that was most pleasing to me was the insistence that an emphasis on good works does not discount a church from sharing the good news. In fact, they make a paradigm-shaking claim that the church is not capable of sharing the good news without engaging in good works, a concept that they support well with Scripture. This idea should sound a wake-up call to thousands of churches across the United States who spend so much time shouting at the world and virtually no time loving the world.

I find it appealing when anyone makes a point that is meant to challenge individuals on both sides of any ideological (or, in this case, theological) spectrum. Rusaw and Swanson challenge the mainline denominationally-based churches that their focus on social justice is good but insufficient without an intentional and specific preaching of the Gospel. They challenge the evangelical churches that their focus on truth-telling is good but insufficient without a practical, service-minded approach to ministering to the needs of the community. All of us in the church need to hear that message continually communicated as we try to find the healthy balance for God-honoring, Spirit-led, Christ-following church life.

For any church leader sensing God's tug toward reaching your town or city, this is a great book of ideas and inspirational stories. Read it, and share it broadly with your congregation.
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