Missional Monday : What Others Are Saying

mmI am thankful for the many voices, resources, institutions, and ministries which are actively assisting the church and her people today to out a missional lifestyle. As our communities, cities, states, and nation evolve before our very eyes, it becomes more critical every day that the local church be the missionary for the gospel in their field. I hope this collection of thinkers and ministries will further challenge you to live mission lifestyles.

Read: Missional Moves by Rob Wegner and Jack Magruder. This book describes fifteen “shifts” that have the capacity to alter our understanding of the church and how its mission is carried out in the world.

Follow: Dr. Thom Rainer. Dr. Rainer is the president of Lifeway Christian Resources. He is the author of the books Simple Church, The Unchurched Next Door, I Am a Church Member, and Autopsy of a Deceased Church among many others. Dr. Rainer consistently publishes articles and blog posts that deal with church, pastoral, and ministry related issues. He is the consummate encourager. You can read his work here or give him a follow on Twitter – @ThomRainer

Meet: Heifer International. Their purpose is to “empower families to turn hunger and poverty into hope and prosperity”. Heifer brings sustainable agriculture and commerce to communities with a long history of poverty. This happens through the provision of farm animals that provide both food and reliable income in the form of agricultural products such as milk, eggs and honey that can be traded or sold at market. Families in turn pass on farm animals to other communities who have similar need. This sustainable income brings opportunities for building school and funding small businesses. You can find them here or give them a follow on Twitter – @Heifer

FYI: Statistics speak loudly.

According to the American Psychological Association, the top five ways in which teens today deal with stress are: play video games (46%), social media (43%), exercise (37%), watch TV (36%), and play sports (28%). What’s missing?

According to LifeWay Research, 46% of Americans say their religious beliefs impact their daily work.

According to Barna Research, 79% of practicing Christians say they want to know how their faith speaks to current issues they face.

According to LifeWay Research, 59% of churchgoers attend some type of small group Bible study at least once.

Recommended Reading

People read for different reasons. Some read for pleasure and to relieve stress. Some read for information. Still others read with a desire to learn something that can change their lives. I am of the latter. If I read a book and gain insight on becoming a better husband, father, pastor, or witness then I consider my time in that book was not wasted.

If you have a passion and desire to know what and how the unchurched person thinks, I would like to recommend a book to you. That book is: The Unchurched Next Door by Thom Rainer. (By now you have figured out that I enjoy Rainer’s work). The book is centered around research conducted with 306 unchurched people in all 50 states and Canada, across all ethnic groups, all social backgrounds, all educational levels and ages. Simply put, the research team spent hundreds of hours listening to the unchurched. Researchers asked questions about their belief in key areas such as the existence of heaven/hell, who God and Jesus are to them, the reliability of the Bible, their prayer life, and possible church attendance.

The research was compiled and the responses were groups into one of five faith stages. This rating became known as the Rainer Scale. It looks like this:

U5 – Highly resistant to the gospel, antagonistic attitude
U4 – Resistant to the gospel, but not an antagonistic attitude
U3 – No apparent receptivity, neutral, perhaps open to discussion
U2 – Receptive to the gospel and to the church
U1 – Highly receptive to the gospel, “the Philipian jailer”


This book, in my opinion, does a fantastic job of dealing with three key areas that I feel the church today struggles to understand. First, a thorough description is given as to what the unchurched look like at every faith level. Second, recommendations are given on how to interact with the unchurched at every faith stage. Third, suggestions on how to move an unchurched person down the scale toward increased receptivity. This book has led me to change the way I personally look the unchurched. They are not all alike. Information is power. If you have a heart for those not yet connected to God’s church, you will be encouraged by this book.



Surprising Insights – Part #1

Today, I am beginning my review of Surprising Insights from the Unchurched and Proven Ways to Reach Them by Thom Rainer.

This book is a research project. If you enjoy research, you will enjoy this book. Surprising Insights is about the formerly unchurched and their journey to becoming active in the local church. The goal then is to study what moved them to the church and develop strategies to reach the millions who were previously like them. The working definintion of formerly unchurched, according to Rainer is, one who has not been in church except sporadically, for at least ten years, but has recently become active in a church.

America is becoming an increasingly unchurched country as each generation passes. Chapter one gives the telling statistics. Only 41% of Americans attend church services on a typical weekend. In America, at the printing of this book (2001), it takes 85 church members to reach one person for Jesus Christ. I have a feeling that number is higher in 2009.

The bulk of this chapter covers nine myths the formerly unchurched destroyed about reaching the unchurched population. I have to admit, I have been guilty of believing at least one of these myths. I list them here for you to consider.

1. Most unchurched think and act like Anglo, middle-class suburbanites with no church background.

2. The unchurched are turned off by by denominational names in the church name.

3. The unchurched never attend church.

4. The unchurched cannot be reached by direct personal evangelism.

5. The Pastor must be a dynamic and charismatic leader for the church to reach the unchurched.

6. We must be careful in our teaching and preaching so that we do not communicate deep and complex biblical truths that will confuse the unchurched.

7. The Sunday School and other small groups are ineffective in attracting the unchurched.

8. The most important evangelistic relationships take place in the marketplace.

9. The unchurched are only concerned about their own needs.


Book Review – Simple Life

simplelifeI am embarking on something new to me. I am going to write my first book review. Understand, this is not a critique. Who am I to critique another author when I have not authored. One of my favorite authors is Thom Rainer, President of Lifeway Christian Resources. He writes with such passion about the church, the unchurched, and the pursuit of Christ that his books, to me, are addicting. He even has a way of making books based on research and numbers challenge you in your Christian walk, especially if you are a leader.

Dr. Rainer’s latest book, “Simple Life” makes use of  the teachings of his bestseller “Simple Church”. In his new book, he guides the reader to pursue balance betwee four critical area of life: God, time, relationships, and money.  If this book is anywhere near as good as “Simple Church”, it will be well worth the time spent in reading.

The book has 305 pages, containing sixteen chapters which are housed in four main sections. My intent is read each section an then come back here and review that section. I will then give an overall review at the end. In the event there is a particular chapter that is beneficial to the reader here, I will review that chapter alone. At times, there will be other posts scattered in between the book reviews. If you are a reader of this blog, help me with accountability. I am looking forward to this read and even more to shring my thoughts with you.