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Posted October 4, 2009
Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. He has earned his Masters and Ph.D. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where he served as a dean for twelve years. He has also authored and coauthored several books. His son Sam Rainer is pastor of the First Baptist Church in Murray, KY. He also heads the Rainer Research Group, formerly held by his father. Sam holds a BS in Finance and Marketing from the University of South Carolina and an MA in Missiology from Southern Seminary. He is currently working on his PhD in Leadership Studies at Dallas Baptist University.
The Essential Church has two parts and ten chapters. It begins with an introduction describing what an essential church is and how it pertains to the essentials of one life. Their contention found on page three suggests, "More than two-thirds of churchgoing young adults drop out of church between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two," and the top ten reasons why they drop out. In addition, they suggest that these youth are likely to remain in the church if the church is essential in their lives in spite of those ten reasons. The essential church has four components: simplify, deepen, expect and multiply which they suggest will transform the dismal state of the nonessential church's decline. This dismal context represents a massive decline of conversions, losing the influence of the culture, 'floundering' and losing a generation. The book identifies seven 'sins' that the nonessential church is guilty of. They are issues in doctrine, evangelism, relevance, outward ministries, personal conflicts, stagnancies and biblical literacy. The first part is entitled, Why People Leave the Nonessential Church, which focuses more on the people who leave, however, some indirect detail of what the church is doing wrong. Based upon a survey conducted by a LifeWay research, they list a series of interviews that establishes and supports each of the top ten reasons for young adult dropouts. According to the survey, the number one reason these youth leave the church is that they simply desire to take a break from church. Other issues involve hypocrisy, college, work, family, incohesiveness, views and belief, friends and impressiveness. In the first part, the writers have determined that people stay in the church because of a deep biblical foundation. They stay in churches that are relevant; who engage them, have a lively worship experience, with mission effort and basically, the church is essential to the lives of its people. Part two is entitled, "How Essential Churches Close the Back Door." The contention is that people enter into the front doors and metaphorically speaking, there is a back door that they exit unnoticed, never to return. They begin this effort by showing distinctions between the essential and non-essential churches. Addressing issues like the ministry's inward focus and their antidote. Suggesting that the church simplify its structure, deepen its content, the expectations of attitude and multiplying the right action plan to be an essential church.
The authors main thesis of the book is that the church is losing the present generation of young adults ages eighteen to twenty-two out of what they have term the 'back door.' The door as they have called it represents an escape route that is available for those youth to replace the areas the church once provided. Their remedy, the Essential Church, is a restructured institution that includes some ba
Posted October 4, 2008
Dr. Thom S. Rainer and Sam S. Rainer III statistically, scripturally, and sympathetically share a shocking evaluation of the situation in many church sanctuaries across the United States of America in Essential Church?: Reclaiming a Generation of Dropouts. They saliently and sagely show how we can reverse trends and see a revival of the work of the Lord. I sincerely recommend it! Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor, teacher, mentor, writer, and author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a VoiceWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.