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Who Stole My Church: What to Do When the Church You Love Tries to Enter the 21st Century Paperback – Bargain Price, January 12, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. MacDonald (Ordering Your Private World) charts new territory in church growth books by turning what could have been a long list of dos and don'ts into a highly readable, even novelistic, approach to the subject. With himself as narrator, MacDonald creates a cast of church members in their 50s, 60s and 70s who meet each week to discuss where their church has been, is now and should go in the future. All I know is that someone stole my church and I'd like to get it back, says one. MacDonald delves into the feelings of the older generation as they watch new leadership take over, see changes in music and use of technology, and begin to wonder how they will fit in. He challenges their understanding of what the church is, then looks at the early church and the modern church and the many cultural influences that transform Christian spirituality. MacDonald is especially strong when he includes young people's perspectives or brings research to bear on how people view and act on change. This is a challenging, innovative approach to a delicate subject. It's sure to benefit church leaders and members of all ages who dream of a reinvented church. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Gordon MacDonald has been a pastor and author for more than fifty years. He serves as Chancellor at Denver Seminary, as editor-at-large for Leadership Journal, and as a speaker at leadership conferences around the world. His books include Building Below the Waterline, Who Stole My Church, A Resilient Life, and Ordering Your Private World. Gordon and his wife, Gail, live in New Hampshire.
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Top customer reviews
The book opens with the failure of an agenda item that by all rights should have passed with flying colors. Blind-sided by the over-reactions of people he had been pastoring for three years and thought he knew, he decided some further communication should be undertaken. There had been a lot of outward changes in this church over the years, not all of his doing: hymnbooks were passe’, the organ was gone, PowerPoint presentations during the sermons were common, pews had been replaced with individual chairs, people didn’t dress up for church as much, and small groups replaced Sunday School classes. His purpose as a pastor was stated in chapter 1: “Most important, I was committed to pointing the church toward the outside world and getting it to see that the real action was what happened, not on Sunday in the church building, but between Sundays in the home, in the marketplace, in the school” (Loc. 276).
But, tension between the generations had reached a tipping point. An informational meeting was set up, and fifteen stalwarts of the church showed up. Complaints are flying thick and fast, but to Pastor MacDonald’s credit, his character listens and wants to understand their point of view. The title of the book is taken from a comment made by a widow, “Who stole my church?” which is the way she feels. The rest of the book explores how change occurs from church history, and from biblical examples. Each generation must find a way to reach the next one.
The church was transformed because the people began to understand and see that the Gospel message and the Word of God, and Christ do not change, but the method of delivery has changed from the early church onward. Along the way, they learn more about each other, and become a core group that seeks to support and mentor the younger generation, and reach the lost all around them.
I enjoyed this read, posted on Goodreads also. Had a hard time putting it down. Every church body of believers is different, but it was heartening to see explanations for how people perceive and deal with change as a process. He references a book, The Diffusion of Innovation by Roberts about the Toshiba Corporation to illustrate the percentage of people in a group who are innovators (2.5%); early adopters (key people who are trusted) (13:5%); early majority (those who talk it out and come around) (34%), late majority, (those who are skeptical and want to see results first),(34%), and laggards (never changers). Our church has a wonderful visionary gifted in leadership as pastor, but this book helped me understand that change is normal, and things ever stay the same EXCEPT the gospel message and the Word of God.
If we don't watch it, those of us who have attended church a long time, we block any change by staying the same. I recommend it for reading if you wonder how to reach out to those searching but yet you want to keep a few traditions the same.
MacDonald, a pastor, writes about a church whose congregation is aging and whose attendance has leveled off. Some changes have been made to engage younger people in worship and to attract unchurched people in the community to come to his church.
A congregational vote to purchase sound equipment was defeated, much to the surprise of the senior minister and board. So the pastor forms a Tuesday night discussion group and invites older members to attend. As one would expect, the older members feel comfortable with traditional worship and programs that have been in the church for years. They don't like contemporary worship choruses because the music is loud, they have to stand up too long, the choruses are repeated too often, and the words aren't as meaningful as those in the standard hymns.
As the reader would expect, after a series of meetings, the older traditionalists are convinced that new methods must be introduced in worship if the church is to grow and reach new people for Christ. What will surprise the reader, however, is that the seniors by themselves find ways to make themselves meaningful in worship, outreach and evangelism - but not without a cost.
"Who Stole My Church?" should be read by all who attend church, regardless of preferred worship style. There's some wonderful church history woven into the plot, and an exchange of ideas that all of us need to consider. This is one of the better books I've read in some time - definitely Five Stars!