You can tell a lot about the state of the church by looking at the bestselling books for pastors and church leaders. I was exploring my favorite online bookseller and clicked on the category for Church/Pastoral. Several books caught my eye and a theme began to emerge. Most of my readers are regular churchgoers so I thought you might be interested in these titles too. These are the book titles that are currently being frequently purchased by those in church leadership:
- Autopsy of a Deceased Church: 12 Ways to Keep Yours Alive
- I Am a Church Member: Discovering the Attitude That Makes the Difference
- The Church Awakening: An Urgent Call for Renewal
- Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep us Apart
- Silver Linings: Breaking Through the Clouds of Depression
- Your Church is too Safe: Why Following Christ Turns the World Upside Down
- Becoming a Contagious Christian
- Overcoming Emotions That Destroy: Practical Help for Those Angry Feelings That Ruin Relationships
- Simple Church: Returning to God’s Process for Making Disciples
- The Cure: The Divine Rx for the Body of Christ – Life Changing Love
- The Church in an Age of Crisis: 25 New Realities Facing Christianity
- Replant: How a Dying Church Can Grow Again
- The Suburban Church: Practical Advice for Authentic Ministry
- Sticky Church
- This Little Church Stayed Home – A Faithful Church in Deceptive Times
- Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God
If you need to, go back and reread those titles, prayerfully. Jim and I served four churches over a period of 25 years. I watched him come in the door of our home each evening and there were good days, great days, bad days, and awful days. It was on his face and on his shoulders when he walked in. Pastoring churches is a hard job – pastoring big churches is an impossible job.
It is impossible to please one area of the church without displeasing two or three others. In my opinion, the book titles above indicate the most important lessons that pastors, church leaders and church members need to realize. The church in the United States is in decline, and will continue that course, unless everyone in pulpits, on platforms or in pews is awakened to the realities facing the church today. I think the sub-heading for the last book title says it all: “Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God.”
Pastors: Your job is NOT to grow a church – it is to grow God’s Kingdom. It doesn’t matter if your church is getting bigger if that growth is from another church in your area. If you want to know if God is pleased with your church’s growth, check your baptismal list. (And “x” off the names of your current members’ children. That number doesn’t indicate growth, it indicates maturation.)
Church leaders: Don’t look at the budgets or buildings to decide if your church is great. Instead look at the people in the pews. Are they worshipping God when they sing? Are they engaged and moved by the sermon? Are they giving joyfully when the offering plate is passed? Are they repentant when they take the Lord’s Supper? Do they care about the person who is sitting alone in the pew?
Church members: Did you join your church because it met your standards, or because it is meeting God’s? Are you happy with a club filled with like-minded friends, or worshipping with a congregation that pursues a Kingdom focus?
This is a straightforward blog post, but I am a straightforward preacher’s wife. Sometimes we just need to say it like it is. The authors of these books are sure trying to.