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No one wants to see a church die. And yet, far too many churches are dying. For more than twenty-five years, Dr. Thom Rainer has helped churches grow, reverse the trends of decline, and has autopsied those that have died. From this experience, he has discovered twelve consistent themes among those churches that have died. Yet, it’s not gloom and doom because from those twelve themes, lessons on how to keep your church alive have emerged. Whether your church is vibrant or dying, whether you are a pastor or a church member, Autopsy of a Deceased Church will walk you through the radical paths necessary to keep your church alive to the glory of God and advancement of Christ’s Kingdom!
Autopsy means to "look for yourself within" or "to see with your own eyes." We will open the spiritual body with the scalpel of God's two-edged sword, the Word of God. As we begin the autopsy of the dead church we immediately find that DNA evidence links every person in the church with an infamous and ancient crime scene--the Garden of Eden. As we continue the autopsy of this dead church we find the fingerprints of a noted murderer and thief all over the body. Like all of us, Satan has certain traits that identify his prints. The dead church has had major brain damage. In some cases there is an enchanting or forceful preacher that has performed a spiritual lobotomy hindering any deep or independent biblical thinking of the people of the church.
Most church members don't see their churches clearly. In almost all of Thom S. Rainer's consultations, church members perceive their church to be friendly. But as he surveyed guests, he found that the guests typically saw church members as unfriendly. The perception chasm existed because the members were indeed friendly . . . to one another. The guests felt like they crashed a private party. Bestselling author Thom Rainer (I Am a Church Member, Autopsy of a Deceased Church) has a game plan for churches to become more hospitable. In a format that is suitable for church members to read individually or study together, Rainer guides readers toward a practical framework for making a difference for those who visit their church. Churches may use Becoming a Welcoming Church to assess and audit where they are on a spectrum between welcoming and wanting. Additionally, churches can use the companion book We Want You Here to send guests home with a compelling vision for what pastors want every guest to know when they visit.
How many times have we heard these statements… “We can’t compete with the megachurch in our town!” “A new church was started two blocks from us. We’ve got plenty of churches without them!” “The church brought another one of their campuses near us. It’s totally unethical what they are doing.” “We can’t reach young families. They all go to the big church that has all the children’s and student stuff.” “We don’t have the money or the people the other churches have.” Bestselling author Thom S. Rainer (I Am a Church Member, Autopsy of a Deceased Church) has heard comments like these hundreds, if not thousands, of times. They are statements of hopelessness. They are statements of despair. They are statements of defeat. Church leaders don’t want to feel this way. They desire to break out of the mediocrity of the same, lame, and tame existence of their churches. They want their churches to make a difference. There is hope. God’s hope. God’s possibilities. What does a scrappy church look like? Let’s take a look together.
Why do so many young adults (18 to 22) leave the church, and what will it take to bring them back? This important question is examined and duly answered in Essential Church?, a follow-up to Thom S. Rainer’s best-selling Simple Church cowritten this time with his son, research expert Sam Rainer. The book is based on a study of one-thousand so-called "church dropouts" who were interviewed about why they left. Their answers are quite surprising, having less to do with "losing their religion" and more about the desire for a community that isn’t made stale by simply maintaining the status quo. In turn, the Rainers offer churches four concrete solutions toward making their worship community an essential part these young people’s lives again: Simplify - develop a clear structure and process for making disciples. Deepen - provide strong biblical teaching and preaching. Expect - let members know the need for commitment to the congregation. Multiply - emphasize evangelism, outward focus, and starting new churches.
Who Moved My Pulpit? may not be the exact question you’re asking. But you’re certainly asking questions about change in the church—where it’s coming from, why it’s happening, and how you’re supposed to hang on and follow God through it—even get out ahead of it so your church is faithfully meeting its timeless calling and serving the new opportunities of this age. Based on conversations with thousands of pastors, combined with on-the-ground research from more than 50,000 churches, best-selling author Thom S. Rainer shares an eight-stage roadmap to leading change in your church. Not by changing doctrine. Not by changing biblical foundations. But by changing methodologies and approaches for reaching a rapidly changing culture. You are the pastor. You are the church staff person. You are an elder. You are a deacon. You are a key lay leader in the church. This is the book that will equip you to celebrate and lead change no matter the cost. The time is now.