I have heard many sermons based on Peter’s desire to get out of the boat and walk on the water to Jesus. I have been challenged by those sermons to similarly leave my familiar surroundings and to trust God to use me in a new, fresh way to influence others to Christ. Michael Moynagh challenged me repeatedly to step outside of my traditional view of the church as I read his excellent book, emergingchurch.intro.
Moynagh makes a compelling argument that the church has lost its significant influence on society: “The inherited church is drifting away from society. The number of adults with a Christian background is shrinking. Public indifference to Christianity has the church by the throat.”
The term “emerging church” describes a cutting edge church body that is willing to jettison its traditional format that is largely unattractive to the unchurched. Moynagh has written the book in the language of the lay person, but vividly expresses the seriousness of the church losing its audience. An ordained priest in the Church of England, Moynagh writes with a pastor’s heart, describing the alarming decline of church attendance in the United Kingdom. A staggering 96% of those fifteen and under (UK) do not attend church.
Moynagh artfully provides vibrant examples of churches that recognized their “come to us” traditional view of the church was no longer attracting the unchurched. These churches stepped out of their traditional comfort zone and, through a plethora of new ideas, changed the staid, traditional style of church into a new, more inviting atmosphere designed to welcome unchurched people. Moynagh honestly points out that change is rarely easy and usually produces growth pains. The growing pains diminish, however, for a church that continues with dwindling attendance and outreach to those without Christ because it refused to change.
The book is very well researched and documented throughout. It also has an appendix with useful websites and additional books on the topic of the “changing church.” Most of the examples are based on churches and surveys done in the United Kingdom. The problem with the traditional church, however, clearly exists in the United States, and the ideas to enhance the church’s influence offered in the book apply to the church universal. It offers many new options for the church to connect with the contemporary, unchurched world. The book will appeal to anyone concerned with the church’s mission to reach those without Christ. I highly recommend this book. -- Jeff Pepple, Christian Book Previews.com
A timely and contemporary look at the many forms of the burgeoning “emerging church” movement. Contemporary music, a shirt-sleeved pastor, and Starbucks coffee. Not a typical church service for most people, but it is becoming more popular. Traditionally, churches have set church services, music, and speakers to fit the expectations of the congregation. Changing the service to appeal to a “contemporary crowd” is a recent phenomenon. Many people have grown disillusioned with the church and want a church on their terms, not their parents’. Enter the emerging church movement. Its goal: to help churches to reach their full potential and to reach a wider audience without compromising their core beliefs. Deals with a worldwide movement.