Church Transfusion: Changing Your Church Organically—from the Inside Out Written by Neil Cole & Phil Helfer, published by Jossey-Bass, © 2012. Reviewed by Rick Glasspell, Pastor of Family Ministries, Heights Baptist Church, Medicine Hat.
Having begun my post-secondary studies within the business world, I tend to look at churches with a penchant towards an organizational bent; in fact, while going through seminary, I learned that dealing with a church is much like dealing with a company. But, over the past five or so years, the Lord has gradually been changing my mindset on this, and Church Transfusion obliterates the ideas that would place Christ’s Church within the box of bureaucracy.
Although I did not agree with every point which Neil and Phil offer, and a lot of their points offer up a litany of other questions which could be posited, I understood their heart and yearning to reach people with the Gospel of Christ, and was often shaking my head in agreement and writing, “Amen!” in the columns.
This book comes on the heels of other books which Neil has written (part of Leadership Network), such as Organic Church: Growing Faith Where Life Happens, and Church 3.0: Upgrades for the Future of the Church, and these two books are mentioned quite a bit, so reading them prior to Church Transfusion could be beneficial, but it is not required.
Their main point is this: church cannot continue the way that it is going right now!
Specifically, the structure and the bureaucracy and the inward looking of the Church cannot continue. The Church must flip the paradigm 180° and stop being complacent about the Gospel! We were commanded to go out and make disciples, and that is the heart of this book. As long as we feel safe and secure within the walls of our churches, we will rarely reach people for Christ; a radical shift must come into our thinking (but is it actually that radical?)!
The book speaks to leaders within the churches (elders, deacons, and those who are interested in change). Their belief is that many of our churches are dying, and that, maybe, we should let them die, or at least let them get to the point of needing a transfusion. In transfusing “Christ’s DNA” (D—Divine Truth, N—Nurturing Relationships, A—Apostolic Mission) into the church, Neil and Phil tell us that it is going to be a difficult challenge to become missional in practice, that people will leave the church, that friends will become enemies, that leaders will be spoken against, often maligned, and that those who work to institute these changes could get deeply hurt.
Although there can be valleys, it is worthwhile to continue on the path to become obedient children of Christ, because we are to love Him more than we love ourselves.
Stories are interwoven throughout the pages to help explain the ideas, which is helpful. As Mark mentioned in his book review of Viral Churches, the concept of disciple multiplication (not addition) popped up many times, although any addition is a good thing.
The guys kept mentioning that it is our task to share the Gospel, and let God work, in His time. His time may be different than our time; in fact, God may work a whole lot faster than what our preconditioned ideas would lead us to be comfortable with. And the idea of multiplication suggests that God will grow His Church faster than what we can necessarily handle, but that we should let it as God directs it, not as we would like to keep it under the bureaucratic inklings of the local church.
Neil and Phil want the churches to be healthy, and so do we. This would be an excellent resource to read through and discuss, and if your church is going through a difficult time right now, or you are beginning a new church venture, it would be worthwhile to think through the ideas posed within these pages and be a unified group working together to share God’s love to your community.
If your church is progressing well and reaching people with the Gospel, Church Transfusion would still be good to read, as it can help to encourage the leaders to continue to move forward and possibly provide some additional ideas to show love to your community.
Do you agree with Rick’s assessment? Comment here to join the conversation!