Review by Scott Lamb
“Step right up folks and be amazed! For just a few dollars out of your pocket, this
bottle book will cure all that is ailing the church you pastor or the church you attend. Indeed, it is just the miracle elixir you’ve been looking for.”
I often feel like new books in the “church renewal” genre over-promise and under-deliver. It isn’t that there is intentional fraud along the lines of snake-oil salesmen. They do mean well, but the marketing of the books is too often hyperbolic in the promises of what the book will do to fix the problems in a local congregation.
Of course, that doesn’t keep me from buying a string of these titles each year. I’m of the opinion that if an author can give me even a few new ideas or a few ounces of inspiration and hope, then I’m happy to spend a few bucks and a couple of hours to gain the few grams of gold the book contains.
OK, so now that you know my own aversion to hype when marketing church leadership books, let me go ahead and say to anyone in a position of leadership in a plateaued or dying church:
Here’s a book you don’t want to miss!
There’s Hope for our Church: First Steps to Restoring Health and Growth, by Gary L. McIntosh delivers on its promise to give you (1) hope and (2) steps toward getting your local congregation turned around.
Without going long in words (195 pages), McIntosh lays out theological and spiritual foundations for church renewal, but then backs up all the good ideas with equally helpful strategy and practical tips for pastoral care and leadership. In other words, I think both John Calvin and John Maxwell could endorse this book.
There isn’t a page in the book that is difficult to understand, and yet every page is dense with content. What other writers take a few chapters to get explained, McIntosh distills down to a few paragraphs. In some cases, a chapter of 3-4 pages served as a condensed version of entire books I have on my shelf.
Most importantly, McIntosh really delivers on the promise of putting hope into the heart of the reader. The hope springs from a confidence in God’s action to revive the church. But the hope also flows from a confidence that God uses the means of holy men and women who never stop desiring better for the churches they serve. Such servants continue to find new ways to grow their own skills and abilities to lead. This book is one such means of growth.
Ten years from now, will your church be thriving or surviving? Will it even be in existence? As it turns out, what happens is largely a matter of making conscious choices today. Success is not about having the coolest pastor or the most creative programs or even being in the best location, although those things might be helpful. Thriving is about making decisions and staying with your choices until they succeed. It’s about making progress along the church revitalization chart, taking the necessary risk to engage future potential.
So, skip the “miracle elixir” books and instead grab this title which promises you, in Churchillian lingo — “blood, toil, tears and sweat” — a vision of church renewal with more meat and less sizzle. And, like Churchill’s famous speech, this book will supply you with hope, energy and practical steps necessary for the battles ahead.