Renovation of the Church: What Happens When a Seeker Church Discovers Spiritual Formation

Renovation of the Church: What Happens When a Seeker Church Discovers Spiritual Formation


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  • 2012 Christianity Today Book Award winner
  • 2011 Leadership Journal Top Book of the Year

Copastors Kent Carlson and Mike Lueken tell the story of how God took their thriving, consumer-oriented church and transformed it into a modest congregation of unformed believers committed to the growth of the spirit—even when it meant a decline in numbers.
As Kent and Mike found out, a decade of major change is not easy on a church. Oak Hills Church, from the pastoral staff to the congregation, had to confront addiction to personal ambition, resist consumerism and reorient their lives around the teachings of Jesus. Their renewed focus on spiritual formation over numerical growth triggered major changes in the content of their sermons, the tenor of their worship services, and the reason for their outreach. They lost members.
But the health and spiritual depth of their church today is a testimony of God's transforming work and enduring faithfulness to the people he loves.
Honest and humble, this is Kent and Mike's story of a church they love, written to inspire and challenge other churches to let God rewrite their stories as well. Read it for the church you love.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780830835461
Publisher: InterVarsity Press
Publication date: 04/05/2011
Pages: 185
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.20(d)

About the Author

Kent Carlson founded Oak Hills Church of Folsom, California, in 1984. For the past thirteen years he has been co-senior pastor of the church with Mike Lueken. Mike and Kent are both graduates of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. They each live with their families in the Sacramento, California, area.

Mike Lueken is copastor (with Kent Carlson) of Oak Hills Church of Folsom, California. He is a graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and lives with his family in the Sacramento, California, area.

Dallas Willard (1935-2013) was a professor in the School of Philosophy at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles for over forty years. A highly influential author and teacher, Willard was as celebrated for his enduring writings on spiritual formation as he was for his scholarship. His books include The Divine Conspiracy (Christianity Today's Book of the Year in 1998), The Spirit of the Disciplines, Hearing God, Renovation of the Heart and others. His books have received numerous Christianity Today Annual Book Awards and other recognitions.
Willard served on the boards of the C. S. Lewis Foundation and Biola University, and was a member of numerous evaluation committees for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. He received bachelor's degrees from both Tennessee Temple College and Baylor University and a graduate degree at Baylor University, as well as a PhD from the University of Wisconsin in Philosophy and the History of Science.

Table of Contents

Foreword—Dallas Willard


1 The Creation of the Monster

2 Deciding to Change: The Donner Party

3 The Keys to Transition: A Few Hard Years

4 Rethinking the Gospel:The Enthralling Vision of Life in God's Kingdom

5 The Problem of Consumerism: Talking to Fish about Water

6 Setting Aside Ambition: The Necessary Groundwork of Change

7 Co-Pastoring: Two are Better than One

8 Understanding the Church: The Fellowship of the Unformed

9 Spiritual Formation: Do You Really Want to be Healed?

10 Outreach: A Burning Passion for the World

11 Worship: Celebrating the Story of God

12 Mistakes: After Further Review

13 Epilogue: A Vision for the Future



What People are Saying About This

From the foreword by Dallas Willard

"Kent Carlson and Mike Lueken love the church—not an abstract one, but the one that meets: here and there, down on the corner, or in a warehouse. They love their church. . . . Please read this book and creatively apply it to your situation, with The Teacher beside you. You don't need more money or new facilities. Just begin where you are and all else will take care of itself. No, God will take care of it."

David Johnson

"This book is a breath of fresh air that brings with it the aroma of hope--hope that maybe, just maybe, there's a different way to do this thing we call church. But more than just a different way, Mike and Kent began with a different desire--a desire to be part of a community of faith that was characterized by something beyond success, a community that would actually begin to resemble the character and fragrance of Christ. Their journey toward fulfilling that desire has been a long and difficult one--costly too! But if you're like me, you'll find it full . . . of hope."
David Johnson, senior pastor, Church of the Open Door

James Bryan Smith

"The honest story of two courageous pastors who dared to change the ethos of their church from a membership focus to a discipleship focus, from catering to consumers to creating Christ-followers. Their story will inspire you."
James Bryan Smith, author of The Good and Beautiful God

Gary W. Moon

"The release of Renovation of the Church is a bright day for the church. Carlson and Lueken offer a wonderfully candid, bold book about the journey of a church that stopped appealing to religious consumers and started producing disciples of Jesus."
Gary W. Moon, executive director of the Renovaré Institute for Christian Spiritual Formation

Keith J. Matthews

"Bold, courageous, humorous and refreshingly honest! Carlson and Lueken invite us into a journey that few churches would ever attempt--shifting their church from a 'consumer driven' church model to a 'disciple-making' church model (a novel idea!). Renovation of the Church isa must-read for every pastor, church leader or seminarianwho longs to see the church fulfill the heart of its mission!"
Keith J. Matthews, professor, Graduate School of Theology, Azusa Pacific University

Jan Johnson

"The Western church desperately needs conversations around what local church activities look like in light of the gospel of the kingdom: pastoring, outreach, worship, teaching and forming people spiritually. Kent and Mike have done the hard work of thinking about and living these things, helping the rest of us know where to start and what to do."
Jan Johnson, author of Spiritual Disciplines Companion and Invitation to the Jesus Life

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