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Rethinking the Church: A Challenge to Creative Redesign in an Age of Transition Paperback – July 1, 2003

4.5 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This book is a rich blend of thoughtful, biblical reflection and hands-on experience. It will make an enormous contribution to the lives of those who believe that the local church is the hope of the world."

"Jim White has done it again. I heartily recommend this book."

About the Author

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. He holds M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees from Southern Seminary and has completed advanced graduate study at Vanderbilt University and continuing education at the University of Oxford, England. White is also an adjunctive professor of Christian Theology at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary and the author of several books, including A Search for the Spiritual and Life Defining Moments. He and his wife, Susan, have four children.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 186 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Books; Revised, Expanded ed. edition (July 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801091659
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801091650
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #698,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Donald S. Meador on October 15, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Rethinking the Church by James Emery White is the book to read when it comes to understanding why your church is not growing. The primary strength of this book is that it asks the right questions - it leads the reader to ask the right questions about his or her church. The secondary strength of this book is that it does not prescribe one set answer, one model of doing church, as the only possible answer for the absence of growth in one's church growth.
Based on his experience of starting a church that reaches lost people, White delineates questions that need to be asked by every church. Even though the book was written in 1997, I found the questions to be accurate today. The questions White leads the reader to ask in the areas of Purpose/Vision, Evangelism, Discipleship, Ministry, Worship, Leadership Structure, and Community seem to me to be timeless questions. The value of answering these questions honestly and applying the answers thoroughly cannot be overstated.
When reading this book, the discerning reader will understand the style of worship used in White's church. The beauty of it all is that White does not try to force the worship style of his church upon the reader's church. However, he does stress the importance of using a worship style that is relevant to the lost people in your community.
I would recommend this book to everyone in church leadership. It will help you to understand the context in which you minister, and, hopefully, how to minister better in that context.
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Format: Paperback
Rethinking The Church explores the nature of the church with a view to making the necessary changes that will ensure that the church remains relevant to our culture. The author proceeds from the foundation that much of what we do and see in today's churches is derived from 17th to 19th century culture, and as such has lost much of its relevance to our postmodern society. We need to critically examine our churches to discern to the world today and what is simply tradition holding over from days gone by.
White draws heavily on the writings of Rick Warren, Bill Hybels and George Barna: so heavily, in fact, that it often seems he has little to say that is truly original. If you have read The Purpose Driven Church and are familiar with Hybels' writings, you will find a lot of repetition in this book. Still, at only 128 pages it is an easy read and still worth your while. If you have not read books on this topic before, this makes an excellent introduction.
This book does a good job of showing the importance and, to some extent, the methodology of taking a critical look at the church to evaluate if it truly is an effective tool for God's work. I appreciated that on the whole the author treats the traditional church with respect, seeing the beauty of traditional parts of the worship service and traditional music. At the same time I appreciated his harshness on the necessity of being willing to make changes where changes are necessary.
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Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book that brings us to rethink who the church is and what the church is about. James Emery White takes us through rethinking evangelism, discipleship, ministry, worship, structure and community... every aspect vitally important to the life of any church.

In his introduction, Emery states 8 reasons people give for not attending church:
1. There is no value in attending (74%).
2. Churches have too many problems (61%).
3. I do not have the time (48%).
4. I am simply not interested (42%).
5. Churches ask for money too frequently (40%).
6. Church services are usually boring (36%).
7. Christian churches hold no relevance for the way I live (34%).
8. I do not believe in God, or I am unsure that God exists (12%).

When you read a list like that, how do you feel? Would you feel compassion for the lost, or would you feel that we are not here to please the lost? The book does not ask us to compromise God's standards, but to look closely what we hold on to, and whether they are God's standards, or just something we created to protect God's standards.

When Emery talks about "rethinking", he is referring to the effectiveness of the church, i.e. doing the right things. Any church can be efficient, i.e. doing things right, but efficiency does not mean that the church is effective in what she does. Emery does not give us a set of methods to follow, but draws for us the picture of the current culture and society that we live in, asks questions for us to reflect on what is happening, and at the end of the day, we need to decide what needs to change and how the change is to take place.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Purpose:

To lead the reader through rethinking the areas of ministry listed below in order to assist the reader with bringing about change from the rethinking.

Content:

The book is divided into 8 chapters: “Rethinking”…

The foundational questionsEvangelismDiscipleshipMinistryWorshipStructureCommunityFrom rethinking to change
Analysis:

Rethinking is defined as “the radical redesign of church processes for dramatic improvement in the fulfillment of the church’s purposes and mission”. The author identifies the most important word in the definition of “rethinking” as “process”. By process he means “a complete end to end set of activities that together fulfill the purposes and mission of the church”. The exercise of rethinking, measuring and judging our “processes” is a needed one. I recommend this book to the pastor that sees the need for this exercise and is willing to pay the price to carry out that exercise. Instead of rethinking our processes churches have been focused on repairing their church. Peter Drucker stated “there is a great difference between increasing efficiency-which is doing things right-and effectiveness, which is doing the right things”.

Application:

Who will benefit?

The pastor and his leadership team then the congregation and community once the exercise is implemented.

How will they benefit?

It will serve as a guide and instructional tool for rethinking every aspect of your ministry. It will help the leaders to “rethink why they do what they do the way they do it”.

Where does it fit in the process?

At the front end of your ministry design process.
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