Thursday, September 10, 2015

Rise: Bold Strategies to Transform Your Church (Book Review)

Recently I had the opportunity to review (at no cost to me) Rise: Bold Strategies to Transform Your Church by Cally Parkinson with Nancy Scammacca Lewis.  As always, first I'll share the publisher's synopsis of the book:
Every church has a next step for spiritual growth.
Is your congregation engaged in an on-fire relationship with Jesus and His work in the world? For ten years, REVEAL research has been the gold standard for measuring spiritual vitality based on its unprecedented database of 500,000 congregants attending 1,800 diverse churches across America. Now in Rise, REVEAL researchers offer new comprehensive data—and encouragement from churches in the trenches—to help church leaders gain clear and practical insights about strategic pathways that will enable spiritual growth.
A must-read for pastors, lay leaders, and anyone wanting to help their church cultivate tangible spiritual growth, Rise offers research-based evidence that shows all churches fall into one of eight “archetypes.” Rise will help leaders:
  • Identify which archetype fits their church.
  • Create spiritual-growth strategies based on real-life case studies.
  • Implement sound strategies with insights on what works best for churches in the same archetype.
God calls the church to vibrant relationship and kingdom work. If you desire to see your church answer His call with renewed passion, join with thousands of other churches and Rise.
A year or two ago, our church participated in the REVEAL survey.  So when I saw Rise available for review, I was interested in reading what REVEAL researchers have learned from the collective data gleaned from ten years of analyzing survey responses.

Rise opens with a chapter about what the survey data has uncovered.  Using two main categories--people and their place on the spiritual continuum, and the church and how it helps people advance on that continuum--the researchers identified eight church styles, or archetypes.

I like the Spiritual Continuum, which has four stages from Exploring Christ to Christ-Centered.  Even more, I like the defined catalysts that move people from one stage to the next.

Factors about the church overall include its scores for the five Best Practices, which are actions (e.g., Create Ownership) that help advance spiritual growth.  No doubt, these concrete steps will help church leaders create a plan to help their congregants advance through the continuum.

Most of the book--Chapters 2 through 8--covers the church archetypes, from the Troubled Church to the Vibrant Church.  Each chapter describes an archetype, but besides simply listing its weaknesses, the authors highlight its hope--the likely remedy for those weaknesses.  Each chapter also contains a case study of a particular church:  how the leadership addressed the areas that needed growth and how the church has changed since its initial REVEAL survey.

The final chapter summarizes and gives specifics for the Best Practices.  For example, Create Ownership can take the form of Small Group Build-up, "Living It" Campaigns, and/or Lay Leaders with Big Jobs.  The authors continue on to describe each strategy and suggest which ones are best suited to move each archetype forward.

The Appendix provides the research methodology and data in a more technical format.

I like Rise, and I could see the churches we've attended in some of the archetype descriptions.  While the book could be interesting for congregants, I think it would be most valuable for church leaders whose congregations have not yet taken the REVEAL survey.  For churches whose congregants would not be willing to participate in the survey, Rise could give leadership an idea of how to progress into a stronger church.

Click to read the first chapter of Rise.

Note: This Amazon link is my affiliate link.  If you click through and complete a purchase, I will receive a small commission.  Thank you!

Disclosure: Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book through the Tyndale Blog Network program.

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