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Monday, May 30, 2011

Book Review: "Transformational Church"

TITLE: TRANSFORMATIONAL CHURCH - Creating a New Scorecard for Congregations
AUTHOR: Ed Stetzer and Thom S. Rainer
PUBLISHER: Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing, 2010, (256 pages).

This book is an interesting blend of quantitative and qualitative analysis that leads to a strategic plan for churches to become a 'transformational church' or TC for short. The old scorecard for church health basically revolves around 3 Bs: "Bodies, Budgets, and Buildings." In other words, churches measure their health through numbers, dollars, and the physical structures they have. Unfortunately, many of these do not lead to real spiritual growth as depicted by the New Testament. This book contains many valuable insights for us to consider and re-consider how we can transform our own churches.

What the Book is About
Enters the survey of 7000 responses from pastors and leaders of churches, 123 denominations, with several followup queries, which resulted in a wealth of information. The authors, with the help of a formidable pool of assistants manage to identify key factors leading up to a new scorecard for transforming churches for the new era.

Instead of the 3Bs old scorecard, the authors propose a new DEE scorecard.

    1. Missionary Mentality
    1. Vibrant leadership
    2. Relational Intentionality
    3. Prayerful Dependence
    1. Worship
    2. Community
    3. Mission

(Stetzer & Rainer, Transformational Church, p229)
These three basic elements are part of a TRANSFORMATIONAL LOOP that requires the principles of CONNECTION point, CATHARTIC experience, and CONVERGENT strategy. The first aims at locating the point of relevant starting point. The second looks at the nurturing of the whole experience. The third holds it all together in a coherent whole.

My Comments

This book covers a lot of ground. After giving a broad overview of the need to change the old scorecard, it dives straight into the new scorecard, each based on proven results from interviews and survey responses. It covers the need to look outward (missionary mentality),  the need for cultivating vibrant leadership, how to engage the whole church toward relational intentionality, learning to depend on God through prayerful dependence, actively embracing Jesus through worship, connecting people to people through communities, sharing the gospel of Jesus in mission, and many more.

I like the way the authors support their analysis and proposals from quantitative data. I also like the creativity behind the individual new scorecard and its associated elements. Filled with examples, and powerful testimonies, it offers lots of promises for churches all over to learn from the best.

As a critique, I will tend to wonder if the data obtained has been swallowed too wholesale by the researchers. Sometimes, like what the book say, people's feedback tends to be what they WANT to do, rather than them actually doing it. Such a tendency is not easily discerned from among stoic data, and emotionless numbers. Sometimes, I feel that we should not just learn from churches that succeed. Often, there are more important lessons to learn from churches that failed. Perhaps, identifying the best churches may not necessarily be the best approach. One needs to learn to look at as wide a spectrum of churches as possible. That said, this book while written from a Protestant, American Church perspective, it holds valuable lessons for the rest of the churches around the world that are influenced in some way by the American Church.

That aside, I recommend this book as a good reality check for churches whose growth are stagnant, or for churches that want to change yet do not know how. This book offers a good start. If you want to initiate any change in your churches, buying this book is a step in the right direction.

Ratings: 4 stars of 5.


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