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Fall 1991 · Vol. 20 No. 2 · pp. 153–56 

Recommended Reading

Church Growth

Henry J. Schmidt

Anderson, Leith. Dying for Change. Bethany, 1990. 208 pp.

Written by a successful practitioner, this provocative book is a biblical and sociological analysis of how leadership must embrace and facilitate change in aging, plateaued churches in order to develop renewed vision and relevant ministries in Century 21.

Barna, George. User Friendly Churches. Regal, 1990. 191 pp.

A companion volume to The Frog and the Kettle: What Christians Need to Know to Survive in the 21st Century. Through research, analysis and first hand observation, Barna pinpoints the common characteristics of churches that are attracting new people and experiencing healthy growth. Four major sections: perspectives; programs and participation; structure and leadership; things growing churches don’t do. Stresses Bible-centeredness, spiritual purity and creativity.

Callahan, Kennon. Effective Church Leadership. Harper, 1990. 268 pp.

Addressing pastors, Callahan states “the day of the professional minister is over and the day of the missionary pastor has come.” Underscores four central leadership tasks in the church: fostering a mission vision; focusing proactive, intentional, relational missional leadership, understanding foundational searches and trends in culture; and developing leadership, missional and congregational structures to be an effective church.

Gibbs, Eddie. I Believe in Church Growth. Hodder and Stoughton, 1985 (revised). 312 pp. {154}

One of the most balanced books written on church growth. After laying a solid biblical foundation (God’s people and the nations, Church and Kingdom, Gospel and Culture), Gibbs deals with the church growth agendas of: measurement and meaning; medium and message; groups and growth; structures and strategies; equipping and mobilizing; leadership and relationships; expectations and planning.

Hesselgrave, David J. Planting Churches Cross-Culturally. Baker, 1980. 447 pp.

Practical and biblical. Develops a master plan for entering a new community based on the Pauline cycle from Acts. Some strengths: its prioritization of evangelism/church planting/growth in mission; its international flavor.

McGavran, Donald. Understanding Church Growth. Eerdmans, 1970. 369 pp.

A basic text by the “father” of the modern church growth movement. Deals with: causes of church growth (definitions, helps, hinderances, revival); sociological dimensions (social structures, receptivity, homogeneous units); and special kinds of church growth (masses/classes, urban populations, people groups).

Murren, Doug. The Baby Boomerang. Regal, 1990. 283 pp.

A profound look into the heart and head of this enormous population bulge (77 million in US.; 7 million in Canada) born between 1946-1964. Calls the church to change-not its doctrine but its style and strategies-in order to effectively reach a “missing generation,” now returning to church in search of meaning, spirituality and a solid value system for their children.

Posterski, Donald C. Reinventing Evangelism. InterVarsity, 1989. 197 pp.

Provides fresh and dynamic insights for Christians concerned about “retooling” their evangelism in a way that engages our culture and returns believability to our message. {155} Christians are called to: leave their comfort zones; overcome intimidation; become meaning-makers; decode cultural Christianity; personalize their witness; embrace diversity; use their minds and help people decide.

Sample, Tex. U. S. Lifestyles and Mainline Churches. West-minister, 1990. 178 pp.

One of the most helpful sociological analyses of America as the church enters the decade of the chaotic, diverse 90s. Highlighting the basic shift in cultural values (from self-denial to self-fulfillment). Describes and offers strategies for three diverse cultural lifestyles (left-baby boomers; right-traditionalists; middle-mainliners).

Shenk, David W. and Erwin R. Stutzman. Creating Communities of the Kingdom. Herald, 1988. 218 pp.

A fresh and practical study on biblical guidelines for mission drawn from the church planting strategy in Acts. Emphasizes not a “franchise church,” but a community uniquely shaped by the Spirit.

Schaller, Lyle E. Growing Plans. Abingdon, 1983, 176 pp.

Five strategies for growth with specific application to the unique characteristics and needs of: small, medium-sized and large congregations; newly established churches and the denomination.

Schaller, Lyle E. Choices for Churches. Abingdon, 1983. 176 pp.

For churches caught in divisive, “no win situations” provides practical helps on tough choices such as single-cell or multi-cell? traditional or contemporary ministry styles? remaining downtown or relocating? being a rural or a sixty-mile city church?

Shenk, Wilbert R. (ed.). Exploring Church Growth. Eerdmans, 1983. 303 pp. {156}

Draws together the resources of the world’s most renowned missiologists (i.e., McGavran, Costas, Hiebert, Shenk, Bosch, Boer, DeRidder) to explore the premises, principles and goals of church growth. It is the most comprehensive and international analysis of the Church Growth Movement.

Taylor, Richard. Dimensions of Church Growth. Baker, 1989. 202 pp.

A balanced, practical perspective on the theological foundations of church growth: Paul’s starting point, outreach factors (reaching young parents, community surveys, telemarketing, purposeful contacts, revival campaigns), and nurturing dimensions (incorporation, discipleship, shepherd toward holiness, counseling).

Wagner, C. Peter. Leading Your Church to Growth. Regal, 1984. 218 pp.

One of the best of Wagner’s books on pastor/people partnership in dynamic church growth. In spite of its bias towards the large church and a pyramid pastoral leadership style, it offers valuable growth principles which apply to lay persons, congregations and leaders.

Henry J. Schmidt is Associate Professor of World Mission, Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary, Fresno, California.

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