This is a book review of Mike Slaughter’s – CHANGE THE WORLD: Recovering the MESSAGE and MISSION of JESUS
This new book put out by Abingdon Press was published in conjunction with the United Methodist Church’s RETHINK CHURCH campaign. And, more, it was designed to be used by churches as they committed to a “CHANGE THE WORLD” weekend in April and by pastors as they focused on the mission and ministry of their own churches. Let me make a couple of points at the outset.
First, this is a very good read for a pastor (or, even better, a small leadership team from a church) who realizes that there is something not quite working in their church. Perhaps “church” is happening but disciples aren’t being formed. Perhaps “church” is happening but the building budget is taking away from the mission and ministry of the congregation. Perhaps “church” is happening but there are segments of the population who are not being reached. Perhaps “church” really isn’t happening at all and there is a growing sense that the proverbial “writing is on the wall” if something doesn’t happen…something big. In other words, this is a good study for most of our churches.
Second, it is hard not to read this book and not think that a chapter or two was written just for you and your ministry situation. I read this as pastor of a church with a large building project and a small congregation. Our mission and ministry for a few years has taken a back seat to our building “needs.” We’re in the process of trying to transcend this. However, when Mike Slaughter talks about “Mission vs. Mortar” in chapter 6, it’s hard not to get a sense that we’ve confused these on occasion during the last several years. The mortar doesn’t make disciples. I’m reminded of the phrase, “a church that is not involved in mission projects will soon find that they, themselves, are a mission project.”
Likewise the chapter on “Micro vs. Macro” should hit home any of our larger churches. We have had a push, over the years, to grow the church. At times this has seemed to not mean “make disciples” but “bring more people in.” However, growing larger facilities and congregations is not the most effective way to form real relationships and have personal discipleship opportunities. And so, Rev. Slaughter talks at length about house churches and cell groups.
This book is not “15 Ways to Grow Your Congregation” or “Five Easy Steps to a Contemporary Worship.” You’ll get none of that here. But the book asks some hard questions and asks us to look honestly at our disciple-making and to really RETHINK CHURCH. The concepts are accessible and the chapters are easy to work through, full of personal accounts of the ministry of Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church in Tipp City, Ohio. After a forward by Jim Wallis, the chapters are as follows:
- Missional vs. Attractional
- Inclusive vs. Exclusive
- Disciples vs. Decisions
- Micro vs. Macro
- Multiplication vs. Expansion
- Mission vs. Mortar
- Courage vs. Compliance
As you can probably tell, the first word in each chapter heading is what Miks Slaughter thinks we need more of as we go about the business of “doing church” while the second word is how we’ve often understood church in the 20th Century.
One more thing I’d want to point out is the “Keys to Revitalizing a Dying Congregation.” Ginghamsburg UMC has a lot of experience in this area and I think the guidelines would be helpful to any who find themselves in a congregation that is in decline.
While this is not exclusively for United Methodist Churches, this is by one of our own missional leaders and is a great resources and discussion starter for churches in the Alaska Conference.