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Surprising Insights from the Unchurched and Proven Ways to Reach Them Hardcover – August 1, 2001

4.4 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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From the Back Cover

We’ve read all the hot books on evangelism, we’ve attended scores of seminars—and still we’re not reaching the unchurched. Eighty to ninety percent of churchless Americans will never darken our culturally relevant, seeker-sensitive doors. What are we missing?

Maybe we’ve been asking the wrong people. Instead of consulting the unchurched masses, it’s time we heard what the small but important minority who have recently begun attending a church have to say. What made the difference for them? What critical factors helped spark their faith in Jesus and drew them into the community of believers?

Thom S. Rainer, dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth, shares the results and conclusions of his school’s groundbreaking survey of the formerly unchurched. At last, here are proven insights into what evangelistically effective churches are doing right. Flying in the face of much contemporary wisdom, the answers will surprise you.

This is truly one of the most valuable resources you can own as a church leader. Filled with charts, graphs, and other visual aids, plus an abundance of true-life accounts, this book explodes common myths about the unchurched. You’ll discover

Why pastors and doctrinal preaching are critical The enormous influence of family and relationships Which things matter more than we’d thought, and which matter less What causes visitors to return The traits of unchurched-reaching leaders How to preach effectively to the unchurched How to become a church for the unchurched And much, much more

This eye-opening compendium of information includes reproducible appendices that can help you fine-tune or even restructure your church. From one of the nations foremost authorities on evangelism and church growth, here are insights and tools that will change the way you think of and deal with--and win--unchurched men and women who long to connect with God.

Photocopyable material includes Unchurched-Reaching Readiness Inventory Church Health Survey

About the Author

Thom S. Rainer (PhD, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, Tennessee. He was founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and, Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His many books include Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, The Unexpected Journey, and Breakout Churches. SPANISH BIO: Thom S. Rainer es presidente de Church Central (Iglesia Central) www.ChurchCentral.com y decano fundador de la Escuela Billy Graham de misiones, evangelismo e iglecrecimiento en el Seminario que ha servido como pastor y pastor interino en catorce iglesias y es presidente de Rainer Group Counsulting. Es autor de numerosos libros incluyendo Surprising Insights from the Unchurches and Proven Ways to Reach Them y The Unchurched Next Door. El D. Rainer y Nellie Jo, su esposa, residen en Louisville, Kentucky. Tienen tres hijos adultos. Puede comunicarse con el Dr. Rainer en www.RainerGroupcom
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan; Edition Unstated edition (August 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310236487
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310236481
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #711,829 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Edward J. Vasicek on October 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Finally something unique in the growing mountain of church growth materials! "Surprising Insights" offers a mixture of both old standard "church growth" concepts and some truly "surprising" insights that will both encourage and challenge pastors of conviction, committed to preaching the Word of God and holding the doctrinal line.

The author, Thom Rainer (and his research team) have taken a truly unique approach to church growth: rather than survey the unchurched, they studied the "formerly unchurched," the success stories of outreach. Why did men and women who rarely attended church decide to get involved? Rainer rightly points out that most unchurched people will never become regular attenders so why study them? Why not reach the reachable?

Rainer pulls out of his bag some treasures old and new. Maybe 60%f of the concepts he highlights, such as "pursuing excellence" in facilities and children's programs, or being "purpose driven" are already part of church growth dogma. But the other 40% offers some eye-opening surprises. This landmark study is not just the same old same old.

Amazingly, the formerly unchurched were drawn to churches with doctrinal conviction (remarkably, folks who transferred from church to church were LESS interested in doctrine or solid teaching than the unchurched). The majority of the formerly unchurched wanted in-depth (expository) Bible teaching, not merely pop-psychology topical sermons. The churches that reached the unchurched were usually intentionally evangelistic. They also seemed specialized in attracting women to church (sometimes through good programs for their children); the women were won to Christ and then often their husbands eventually came to faith (if the church was burdened to reach their husbands).
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Format: Hardcover
Thom Rainer is president of Rainer Group Church Consulting as well as founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. As such, we would expect him to have many interesting insights into church growth. He does not disappoint. In Surprising Insights From The Unchurched Rainer presents the results of a fascinating study he performed over two years. He decided that perhaps the best way of learning what principles of church growth work best would be to interview people who had only recently become Christians and begun to attend church on a regular basis. He and his team spent thousands of hours interviewing 353 of these people. And the results, as is obvious from the title of the book, are quite surprising. In the second half of the book, the focus turns to pastors of successful evangelical churches and seeks to understand what they do to bring success to their churches.
The interviews performed by Rainer were focused on members of "effective evangelistic churches." Rainer defines these as churches with at least twenty-six conversions per year and a conversion ratio (membership/annual conversion) of less than 20:1. The average ratio in American churches is approximately 85:1. The two criteria eliminate 96% of churches. This leaves the elite 4% as the focus of the study.
Through about 125 pages, Rainer reveals the results of his study. He begins by shattering myths about the unchurched. For example, his study found that the name of the church had almost no influence on the unchurched as they chose a church to attend. The pastor does not need to be a dynamic and charismatic leader for the church to reach the unchurched, and deep and complex Biblical truths do not turn the unchurched away.
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By Holly H on January 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have now collected half a dozen books on church growth, surveying your congregation, and methods to lead a faith-based organization and this is the best of the lot. Dr. Thom Rainer has done an excellent job of researching people who recently made a decision for Christ and joined a church as adults. Some of the results are surprising.
People who have something missing in their lives are not looking for pop psychology or watered-down messages - they are looking for truth and a community of faith who are friendly to people they have never met before. (We all think we are friendly, but what would someone who is meeting you for the first time think about your congregation?) High expectations of new members, Excellence and quality of worship, and cleanliness of facilities were some other surprises. The surveys at the end of the book are thought-provoking. The leadership survey (for pastors) and Church Health survey (for the congregation) are scored by The Rainer Group. The Unchurched-Reaching Readiness Inventory is self-scoring. All appear well-designed and comprehensive, with good correlation questions.
There is an excellent chapter on characteristics of pastors of churches who reach the unchurched. They aren't good at maintenance tasks (weddings, funerals, hospital visitation) but are excellent at preaching, communication, vision, and leading the congregation. Hmmm... it seems this is what the Apostles did in Acts. They equipped others to do the daily work of the church and did the teaching and evangelizing.
If you want a church that only tends to its own members, you will not like this book. But if you want to know how to reach the unchurched, how to grow your congregation (not by moving members over from other churches), then this is a book full of insights and hard data that can really help stir ideas and action to move Christians toward fulfilling the Great Commission of Matthew 28.
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