The stats are staggering. Frequently we are told that roughly 2,000 churches are shuttering their doors every month and such a recitation should be startling, if not breathtaking. The meeting of a pastor who is concerned about the future of his local church and future as a pastor is not uncommon. Thom Rainer has asserted himself as an authority in the analysis, authority, and activity of the church. Therefore, when he writes on that topic, we listen . . . or rather read. His most recent book, Scrappy Church, is an unexpected and yet needed perspective on the ministry of the church.
Quite simply, a scrappy church is a turnaround church; a church that has fought for its place and continued existence for the sake of God’s kingdom not merely its own survival. The author has written a book to direct churches towards becoming scrappy, not in a programmed approach but sets a foundation on three practical principles. in six short chapters, Rainer offers hope and insights for churches living in fear and hopelessness regarding the future. The bulk of the book is directed around three primary principles that he simply calls: outward deluge, welcome readiness, and backdoor closure. Essentially, this is a book to orient churches outward. He illustrates this by showing churches how to be engage (biblically) with those outside the church, be prepared for visitors, and get new members quickly involved. In a flow chart, Rainier illustrates how each of these three act as an ongoing cycle, working simultaneously with one another while also feeding one another.
Perhaps the most important aspect of this book to note is that while the book is not saturated with Scripture, the book is not unbiblical. Quite the contrary as the author’s premises are built on propositions found within Scripture and enables a practical engagement of those principles. Much of the book is predicated on drawing people into church through being witnesses to Christ by impacting their lives.
One of the areas I had hoped the author would be clearer on is the area of partnership. One area of development that he discusses is loving the other churches in the community, serving them and serving with them. While not wanting to detract from his principle focus, there needed to be clarification on the appropriateness of partnering with others with distinctive (including unbiblical) doctrines. Therefore, readers should expect the need to be discerning in this area as they address and implement certain aspects of Rainer’s suggestions.
Overall, Scrappy Church offers readers insights for dealing with the turmoil of Christian ministry that causes many to backoff and lose traction. To supplement, he offers a great ’secret visitor survey’ to help churches evaluate where they are at. The confrontation with some of the realities though necessitate church leadership that is humble enough to admit they are not perfect and committed enough to insist on change together as the body of Christ. The book offers great insights and benefits if Christians are willing to set aside personal agendas.
To purchase a copy of this book, click here. To see a list of other books by Thom Rainer, click here.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher at no cost to me for the purposes of review. However, my review was not influenced by the author, publisher, or anyone else associated with this book and is the result of my own reading of it