by Farr

Abingdon 2011

This is a decidedly United Methodist book, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t learn a good bit from their work … and if you happen to be a Methodist, all the better.

The crux of the book is that when it comes to transformation, most churches focus on redecorating rather than renovation. There is a huge difference between the two, as the book amply illustrates. If a church is going to get busy renovating it will do more than tidy up the grounds, add a projector to worship, and create better titles for their sermons.

The book is divided into two sections: the first section is written for local churches and has ten chapters on renovation strategies. It all starts with the pastor … which is also the title of the first chapter … and wends its way through all the steps that are critical for renovation. The text callouts provide fitting milestones to help you get through the chapters quickly, viz. “Connecting to Context is Everything” (27) and “Membership Doesn’t Mean Discipleship” (69).

The second section is for judicatory leaders. Here you’ll find five chapters on what works and what doesn’t. Frankly, these chapters are invaluable since they remind judicatory leaders that top-down transformation is not only pointless, it’s killing our churches. Instead, there is sage advice that implies denominations offer assistance and get the heck out of the way when a church kicks it into gear.

Methodist or not, this is a fine book that has little brand spanking new, but is more than a great reminder and an excellent primmer for church transformation. Plus the metaphor of renovate versus remodeling is almost worth the price of admission on its own!