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Showing 1-10 of 268 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 324 reviews
on July 29, 2013
Our pastor has recommended Rebuilt: Awakening the Faithful, Reaching the Lost, and Making Church Matter for our parish to read and discuss. I purchased the Kindle edition. There are some really good suggestions about growing a church. Small groups are a great way to get people to know and support each other as Brothers and Sisters in Christ.

I was disturbed by the designation of some of Nativity's parishioners as "consumers". They are parishioners. They may be annoying and disagree with the vision of the authors but they remain parishioners. I also thought there was too much business-speak. God's judgement as a performance review? Really?

We need to attract the lost to our church but we also need to love the people who are already there. Perhaps some of them are lost as well. Jesus is in the Mass in the Word, in the Eucharist, and in the body of His people. Look around the Assembly. You will see Jesus there.
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VINE VOICEon August 10, 2014
The themes provided in this book are timely to any church growth, regardless of denomination. They do work: focus on the music, offer relevant preaching, encourage small groups, etc. In this, the authors did an exceptional job of combining them into one place. Especially helpful is that it is offered to a Catholic audience, which may be adverse to reading other church growth pieces from Evangelical sources.

The downside, however, is how it was actually implemented by Church of the Nativity. I didn't full appreciate it until I researched the church further. If you view their YouTube videos and website you will find a church that looks very little like any other Catholic Church. In growing their church they have exchanged worship (latria) and emphasis on the Eucharistic Sacrifice for a connection with the personal and the emotional. While this has given them growth and success it is at a terrible price.

The universal themes here can be applied in a Catholic model to help growth a church with authentic Catholic tradition and spirituality. But Tradition and Scripture, as we are reminded in Dei Verbum from Vatican II, cannot be separated. So, definitely use the suggestions presented in this book but within a Catholic ethos and it will be helpful.
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on March 21, 2013
Before writing this review I had to read the book twice.

And this review is my opinion. I admit that. I may be and probably am completely wrong, but it is my perception of a ministry and a method based on a text. If I got to visit the parish the book is about, my opinion may be completely different. And this review doesn't cover half of my praises for the work that these two men have done and the concerns I have. It is just a few of them.

As a Director of Religious Education and someone who has been praying and working in my parish for 6 years there were times when I wanted to give the book 10 stars and was screaming "YES!" out loud, and other times when I wanted to give them -10 stars. After all, there are people at my parish who love me and others who want my head on a silver platter. I am sure their staff is used to this type of reaction. I am excited and invigorated by the work this Catholic parish has done to grow disciples and be evangelistic. The mere fact that they got any kind of reaction at all out of normally apathetic parishioners is impressive when they started the paradigm shift at their parish. Our changes have been slower than theirs, but we experience many of the same results, parishioners yelling at us and leaving the parish, withholding their title, new young families coming in, and so on.

There is so much to be commended and imitated - and oh yes - I will be taking some of their ideas. Much of what they have experienced in growing disciples, I have experienced at my own small parish. However, I have concerns with their approach as well.

It appears based on the book that they have seemingly made their Catholic identity an afterthought in their ministry because it is not seen as being "seeker friendly". This leaves me a lot of questions about when their parishioners are being fed the "meat" of the faith. There seems to be the creation of a "Catholic lite" atmosphere because seekers do not want "Catholic deep".

Modeling themselves on modern Protestant ministry and non-denominational mega-churches they have in some areas given up the language of the Church to appeal to as many people as possible. After reading the book the first time I set out to a popular Catholic youth forum and without giving any hint to my thoughts on the parish, asked Catholic youth to tell me if the church is, based on its website, Catholic or non-denominational. The majority responded that they had figured out it was Catholic, but only with great difficulty. Many thought they were Protestants. There was a very real level of discomfort among these discipled Catholics. One person even said they probably would have never converted if this was the parish they were exposed to.

So we know that while they remain faithful to the teachings of the Church, a deep Catholic identity can be seen as a liability. This is similar to my experience in mega-churches and their approach to identifying themselves as Protestant Christians. Social outreach and comfort are seen as primary driving evangelistic opportunities. Neither of those are necessarily bad ways to evangelize and I will look at incorporating some of their ideas. My concern: How do you wean the unchurched off of the milk into a mature spirituality, not just service? How does this play into the liturgy as well which they have "tweeked" for seekers.

I have been in a similar parish in my own diocese that had become "seeker friendly" and transformed the parish & liturgy, as much as they were able to along these modern lines. Greeters, information booths, coffee houses, hobnobbing with your pew neighbors during Mass, high tech A/V systems and a pastor who did his best to be "hip". It was immensely difficult to pray, and impossible to pray deeply (think about that and the long term consequences). There was a complete loss of the sense of the sacred. Yes, the Mass remains a sacred act, but the atmosphere proper to the Mass, sacred space, and sacred time, was gone. Since I have not been in the actual parish the authors describe, I don't know if it would be the same experience, I am just wondering.

The authors themselves admit, contradictory to other great works such as Denis McNamara's Catholic Church Architecture & the Spirit of the Liturgy, that they do not believe beauty plays an indispensable role in the liturgy or evangelization (see the chapter on Pretty Churches and Other Lies) - infusing modern technology and as one reviewer put it "rock & roll" does. Yet, beauty remains a transcendental and one of the three natural attributes (with truth and goodness) that attract people to the faith, so there we disagree. I believe a parish can be steeped deeply in our rich Catholic heritage and tradition and still draw in seekers. There does not have to be a discontinuity here. Our family was drawn to the beauty of the Church when we converted. Fr. Robert Barron explains this well in the Catholicism series.

There is a lot that is not answered in the book. One of my questions is what happens when the congregants and the formally dechurched start to get bored with the new trends? This goes along with who they are trying to reach - the "de"churched (a term that needs to be better defined). It happens all of the time in the modernized Protestant churches, including the one I came from. People get bored with the "style" and start to church hop. Most of those teens that were part of the busy youth ministry at my Baptist church have long since left the faith. There is no developed interior life and relationship with Jesus keeping them there. Perhaps, because this is unique experiment in infusing Protestant elements in a Catholic parish, the Sacraments will be enough to keep people there when the trendy is no longer trendy. Or perhaps their staff will be equipped enough to keep up with the trends and change fast enough to keep the attention of their consumers. That is a priority that they list for their staff. I wonder how the work that they are doing now correlates with trends to be seeker friendly in the 70s. How much this work is an updated version of that?

With their staff I do have concerns about the "hire from within" mentality and the quality of training those people get (are they sent to schools like Franciscan to get a formal eduction?)

Very little information is given in regards to catechesis. We do know that they use a much criticized and well known method of "lectionary based catechesis". There are many limits to this type of catechesis. They may have ways of making up for this that are not in the book. Our solution to getting kids to care has been Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for elementary school. Kids want to be there and they are developing a deep interior life starting with 3 years old. And yes, it draws in new families. Our parish has built similar environments with middle & HS, but with programs that deliver the entire content of the faith, as the bishops ask us to do. Those are some of my concerns.

Again, there is much to praise: They have built a culture of evangelization and outreach, the pastor is keenly aware of the effect of his homilies (again, he drops the Catholic language for Protestant terminology) and seeks to improve it, they have an awareness of the importance and role of stewardship and how to build faithful givers by building faithful disciples. Small groups have been hugely successful at our parish. Best practices in hiring is a great chapter - not so sure about leaning so heavily on Protestant leadership formation - however weeding out people who do not fit the mission and hiring disciples with strong character is right on. They are, in my experience, absolutely spot on about current music in most of our parishes. I am not sure that praise and worship is always the right answer. The reaction to changing music is usually either to return to the great traditions of the Church, or go with P&W.

All of that leads new questions (which are really old questions) about creating different parishes for different people, much like pastors experiment with creating different Masses for different people (the old people Mass, the children's Mass, the biker Mass, the queer Mass, the youth Mass, the traditionalist Mass, the young adult Mass, the liberal Mass, the clown Mass, the folk Mass, the BBQ chicken Mass (no, I am not kidding), the speed Mass, the Lifeteen Mass, the choral Mass, etc) and the value in doing that. I am biased and do not believe we should have different Masses for different groups of people.

So the book gets 5 stars and 1 star from me at the same time. With what they have accomplished, despite what my review might indicate, I lean more heavily on my inclination to give 5 stars than 1 star. I am impressed, but I have areas of a real concern surrounding catechesis, Catholic identity, and borrowing so heavily from Protestantism to the point of adopting their language along with their practices.

I believe this book deserves to be read, praised, critiqued, and talked about at every parish in the US by every pastor and his staff. What they have done isn't 100% new, but it's the first time we've gotten a chance to see it on paper. I am deeply impressed by their vulnerability in being so open and honest. I am itching to buy everyone on my pastoral council a copy, and yet those guys need to read Forming Intentional Disciples first.

Finally, I would love to see Fr. Ed Fride of Christ the King in Ann Arbor write the next book on parish life.
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on May 15, 2017
Our priest recommended this one Sunday. We got it the next week, and love it! It is an unconventional story about an unconventional parish, with unconventional leadership. And it has a surprise ending - through all the turmoil associated with changing hearts and minds, God is hard at work! People change, become true disciples, and the community is changed. Sounds like the gospel, right?!
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on July 30, 2013
The authors essentially remind us of our commission: to go find the poor and marginalized in society - spiritually or physically poor or marginalized. To go authentically minister will lead others to God. In other words, if we are authentic disciples, others will be attracted to how we minister and want to know the God who has taught us to love this way. I completely agree.

In the reading of the book, I often find myself agreeing with their assessments of the "why" underlying a problem, but then see some problems with the "how" that works in their parish. Some things seem downright gimmicky, such as a coffee shop in the narthex to gather those who aren't comfortable enough to go into church.

Overall, I think their assessment of many parishes will resonate. I think the underlying principles they state are pretty good, too. But to look at this as a cookie-cutter answer to your parish's problems would probably not be a wise approach to the book.
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on March 9, 2014
The book is the story of the revitalization of a small, set-in-its-ways parish and its slow transformation into what I describe below.

I attended the Church of the Holy Nativity in Timonium, a Roman Catholic Church, when I first moved back to Baltimore, MD and was looking for a neighborhood to move to. This place was a shock to a life-long traditional Catholic. The Church was packed, like they used to be in the fifties. The altar area was more like a rock concert stage. There were two gigantic flat screen monitors on either side with cameras showing either the priest, the lector, the choir or the altar depending on the moment. The church lighting was professionally handled. When the lector came on, a spot lit him up and the rest of the altar went dark. When the liturgy moved back to the priest, he had a spot and the others went dark.
There were NO kneelers in the church. The homily was excellent. The Gospel reading were displayed on the screens as they were read. The words to the hymns were also handled by the monitors. I thought I was in the "Church-of-what's happening-now". There were confessionals with priests available right after mass. I availed myself of this great convenience.
Afterwards, I drifted into the church coffee lounge where high-quality coffee was served free and pastries were being sold. The front of the old church had been expanded into a glassed in atrium so that parishioners could mingle after mass without going outside into the weather. The coffee shop was part of this glassed in area and contained bistro tables and chairs for impromptu discussions between parishioners. There was an information table at the center of this area with three or four parishioners answering questions, guiding people, etc. It was a bee hive of very happy activity. Children were abundant.
I understand for their Christmas and Easter mass, they rent a very large facility at the nearby Timonium State Fairgrounds.
Anyway, the book is the story of how a priest assigned to a small shriveling parish, ended up with what I just described!

I gave it 4 stars more for content. I didm't like the writing style.
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on October 26, 2015
The foundation of a church alive in Christ is clearly displayed through this book. The thought patterns are clear and logical, but moreover the power of the Spirit is clearly visible. As a leader in a large, vibrant Catholic Church I have been challenging our Parish to encapsulate why we are successful. Why do we draw from the cities around us. Why we should be different. This book help to affirm every positive effort, but also provides good guidance on how to better understand the underlying drivers of why success happens. We are all tasked to build God's Kingdom. This book helps to answer the age old question of how, but more importantly - why we should continue to try to go beyond the routine to build it as a lamp for all to see and warm in our light. God Bless and we'll done.
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on January 18, 2016
What an outstanding book, something that will help any parish community to grow and become more welcoming. We took some pointers out of this book and implemented them in our parish with a huge success. We were also honored to attend the conference they offered so we were able to experience it first hand., and it was worth every effolrt to get to Timonium, MD and learn from this team. The book wasa a purchase from a friend as a gift, after hearing about my experience and how I was able to help my parish she was hoping to do the same in hers.Rebuilt: Awakening the Faithful, Reaching the Lost, and Making Church Matter by Michael White, Tom Corcoran (2/28/2013)
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on August 20, 2013
"The most cogent argument for disbelief is the complacency of believers."

Mike White's chronicle of attempting to reinvigorate the faith and mission of of a large suburban parish is a compelling story of transformation. He accurately captures the essence of many a catholic parish, immersed in a culture of complacent faith and demanding religious consumerism, re-organizing the parish for evangelization. His willingness to take the best of the competing models of church in US culture and attempt integration with authentic Catholic tradition, sacramental life and gospel values is inspiring.

I shudder, however, at the prospect of this book being taken as a template for many. The success of the Timonian transformation is less about what was done, and more about a prophet carefully and courageously heralding a message that "is not one of comfort and joy." To expect what is leaving our seminaries today to provide prophetic leadership in the mode of Mike White is quixotic. Chapter 4, "War in Heaven" which describes the tactics of engagement for confronting and challenging intransigent attitudes requires highly refined leadership skills, humility and experiment. A caution to pastors who use these methods as a pretext for "introduction of a new order" without entering a spirit of lamentation, submission, chastisement, and collaboration, seeking the Holy Desire, rather than their own.
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on October 31, 2016
This book is well-written in story format. The actions it recommends for parish revitalization are consistent with more academic works that discuss the (re)creation of communities (i.e. Peter Block, Community, the Structure of Belonging). The best part of the book is that it outlines a number of simple strategies that can be started quickly. I think that the book probably does not give a realistic estimate of the amount of work involved to move a parish transformation to a point where the difference can be recognized.
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