Monday, January 21, 2008

Who Stole My Church? -- A Review

I read a book over the weekend I sure wish BMH Books had published.

Not only do I think it will do well commercially, but I think its message can be exceedingly helpful for many of our churches.

The book’s title is Who Stole My Church? and Gordon MacDonald is the author. The subtitle is “What to Do When the Church You Love Tries to Enter the 21st Century.”

I think it’s so important, in fact, that I’ve purchased a copy for every member of my church’s pastoral staff and every member of the Board of Overseers.

MacDonald, who has pastored five churches in New England, has written a fictional work that could have taken place in any Grace Brethren church. A group of people, ages upper 50s to 70s, begins meeting on Tuesday evenings to process their feelings that their church has been “hijacked.”

The description on the dustjacket explains that MacDonald has seen churches drop their long-standing programs and traditions—choir-led worship, communion tables, formal dress, and midweek prayer services—seemingly on a whim, in an effort to mobilize younger members.

As a result, there’s been some bitterness and heartbreak that sometimes chokes older members who have spent their lives building that very community, dedicating hours of service and significant amounts of money in tithes.

These “builders and boomers” feel that their churches have been hijacked from underneath them, that someone has come in and stolen what they’ve worked so hard to create.

As the Tuesday night discussions unfold, MacDonald makes a bold move. He runs into the teenage members of his church’s youth praise band in a Panera Bread and he invites them (gasp!) to meet with the Tuesday night group to exchange ideas and viewpoints.

What happens next . . . well, you really need to read the book.

These are tough, tough subjects for our churches and deep-seated feelings run strong. But there is hope, and MacDonald gives us a glimpse into at least one way to encourage free exchange and to build unity within the local church.

I rarely “push” books BMH hasn’t published. This is one worth getting.


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