Life After Church by Brian Sanders (IVP)

iMonk reviews this new book by Brian Sanders. The subject is volatile but IVP is a sophisticated publisher and wouldn’t let rants and raves hit the bookshelves. I will be picking up a copy.

This subject is coming up more and more in my conversations. (Yeh, I know some people think about leaving church altogether after one of my sermons but that’s not what I’m talking about).  The trends show that people leave the small church for the megachurch and then leave the megachurch…for what? They do not go back to the small church. The statistics indicate they are headed for the house church concept, back to liturgical worship or they stop altogether. Of course, this is true for the older church goer who has been around for a while and jumped through the hoops. Those in their twenties are thinking of not going through the hoops at all.

I think it is worthwhile to have this conversation. I sometimes wonder myself. I think about 70% of the things I do and provide as a pastor are generally things I don’t really need and most of the Christ-followers I know don’t either. We do them because some will come if we do them. In other words, those who don’t come call the shots in most churches (churches that genuinely care and are trying to reach people for Christ).

I am thinking of a list of things I don’t care much about when it comes to my personal journey. One, music. I can go to an RC church where the music is unsingable and come away an enriched as in a church where there is a mighty choir or a kicking praise band. I don’t really care one way or another. I am always surprised at how much people do.

Two, overblown children’s programs. I have been in ministry long enough to see several generations pass by. They haven’t invented a children’s program that can overcome the influence of a dysfunctional family. My life is filled up with those who went to the best of churches with the best of children’s programs and honestly I can’t really tell the difference between those who had this and those who did not. But I can tell the difference between those who had parents who nurtured their children in the faith and lived it out in the home and in the world. I believe in children’s programming, just not the Disneyland version.

Three, expositional preaching or topical preaching or whatever preaching. I believe that when a person stands up with a Bible in hand and demonstrates that their words and life are being shaped by the truth of the Bible and the honest attempt to work that out in life then people are brought near to God.

I have more, but maybe you have some to add. I think we would almost all agree that the North American church is being given so much more than it needs, and like people who have become obese from too much food, we need to shed a few pounds of church as usual.

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