- Can We Still Believe The Bible? An Evangelical Engagement with Contemporary Questions By Craig L. Blomberg (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2014) 287 pp. + XVI, Paper $15.90
- The Circle Maker Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears By Mark Batterson (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011) 217 pp., Paper, $14.99
- The God Who Is There Finding Your Place in God’s Story By D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2010) 233 pp. Paper, $16.99
- The Less Traveled Road and the Bible, A Scriptural Critique of the Philosophy of M. Scott Peck by H. Wayne House and Richard Abanes (Camp Hill, PA: Horizon Books: 1995), 248 pp.
- The Ways of the Alongsider Growing Disciples Life2Life By Bill Mowry (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2012), 151 pp., paper $14.99
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Twelve Keys to an Effective Church by Kennon L. Callahan
That is not to say that Callahan has no advice worth heeding. The church growth experts often have decent insights and practical suggestions. It is wise (and not unbiblical) to suggest that a church should have nice, clean, attractive facilities, after all, man looks on the outside, it is only God who sees the heart. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with planning ahead and setting goals. The problem comes when we buy wholesale into the marketing mentality and ignore the true church growth book, the Bible. Actually the book of Acts would be far more profitably studied by pastors than books like these.
The best part of this volume is found in the introduction where the author recommends that a church not focus on its weaknesses and failures but upon its strengths. Rather than becoming preoccupied with trying to do what those "other churches" are doing, we should focus on what we are doing well, improving and expanding from there. This is advice well worth pondering. But the book breaks down on page one when the author lays his foundation for the church with these words, "The local congregation [that is effective] has focused its missional outreach on a particular human hurt and hope." In other words, effective churches are the ones who focus on people and their hurts and needs. The adage often used of church growth proponents is, "Find a need and meet it, find a hurt and heal it." The tragedy is that the church then becomes man-centered (giving people what they want, or think they want) rather than God-centered. The God-centered church concentrates on what God wants, and in turn, gives people what God says they need. The difference may be subtle to some, but it is vital.