Monday, October 5

Review of ChurchMorph

If you're a church leader another title worth adding to your reading list is ChurchMorph: How Megatrends Are Reshaping Christian Communities by Eddie Gibbs.

Gibbs does a quick rundown on five cultural changes -- megatrends that are "convulsing" the churches in the West (shifts from modernity to postmodernity, from the industrial age to the information age, from Christendom to post-Christendom, from production initiatives to consumer awareness, and from religious identity to spiritual exploration). Not surprisingly he concludes that "churches will either morph or become moribund." (p. 51)

He then jumps into a discussion of responses to the post-Christendom era, focusing considerable attention on the missional church and the emerging church. In my opinion this is the best part of the book, helping the reader to understand the histories, nuances and differing frameworks of each of these responses. Essentially Gibbs concludes that there are weaknesses in each but if we take the strengths of each stream and bring them together we'd be moving toward a viable response to the cultural shifts.

Gibbs then discusses several movements (Fresh Expressions, denominational, megachurch, urban, resurgent monasticism, alt.worship, and networks) to explain how they might fit into such a response. Many people will find the brief summaries of various groups and churches to be worth the price of the book because they help the reader form a fairly decent mental map of the landscape.

Gibb's observations regarding the conclusions of the Willow Creek 2007 Reveal report are challenging for all churches -- but especially for those which rely on the Willow Creek or Saddleback models.

Overall, especially considering the underlying thesis, ChurchMorphing is optimistic in tone. You can't help but be intrigued by the possibilities.
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