One of the most encouraging trends in recent years has been the movement away from a pragmatic approach towards ministry to one that is driven by a biblical-theological framework. While studies on the Church abound—namely on what is wrong with it what is often missing in the discussion on the Church is talk about how the Church can improve its process of making disciples. It is easy to criticize the Church for its many failings it is much harder in my estimation to provide a solid framework that helps pastors and ministry leaders learn and grow as leaders. Added to this is the manta that “numbers matter” and so ministry leaders focus on having the biggest budget, building and so on to the neglect of the people they minister to. What has been needed is a resource that aims to help pastors and ministry leaders move from both ditches I’ve mentioned to caring not just about the bodies, budget and buildings, and so on but to focus on accountability, discipleship and spiritual maturity. Thankful seasoned Pastors and authors and lovers of Christ’s Church—Drs. Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer know the struggles, weakness and demands of ministry and what pastors and ministry leaders face as they lead local churches. In Transformational Church Creating A New ScoreCard For Congregations Drs. Thom Rainer and Ed Stetzer have written a book in my opinion truly game changing in that it takes the focus off of us and more on Christ and His people.
The authors writing about transformation note that, “We treasure the concepts of transformation because radical change is the heart of the Christian message and because the power of the gospel changes everything—lives, churches, and communities” (1). They explain, “Transformation is the mechanism and the gospel is the means. The gospel is itself power; paul says it bears fruit and grows (Col. 1:6). The gospel changes us, our churches, and then the world. That’s why it matters and matters most” (7). Behind this new approach to changing the scorecard is the belief that, “We believe one of the most important measurements is ensuring that men and women are being changed by the power of the gospel. Ultimately it is what every church wants—more people redeemed and forgiven by grace through faith in God” (25).
Chapters three through nine show how the scorecard must change through a gospel-centered approach with a missionary mentality, vibrant leadership, relational intentionality, prayerful dependence, worship, community and mission. Throughout the emphasis is as I mentioned in the paragraph two—the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In reality what the authors are calling for is for pastors and ministry leaders to be faithful to the calling they have received in the Gospel. This means that the call for a “scorecard” change is not a call away from everything good and right about biblical orthodoxy but rather a call away from distractions to the central ministry of the Word and Spirit and the centrality of the Gospel in the life of the local Church. Such a call is not only needed it is vital in this hour as local Christian churches face attacks on every side and yet have a message to proclaim that takes sinners and transfers them from the Kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Transformational Church is an important book that will help Pastors and ministry leaders struggling with disciple making to learn not just the importance of making disciples but also how to make disciples through active biblical engagement and dependence on the Lord Jesus. As the authors note in their book when this happen the Church will engage the world in reflection of its Savior Jesus Christ and thus see the change by more people coming to Christ, more believers growing in their faith and more Churches making an impact on their communities. I highly recommend Transformation Church and pray that Pastors and ministry leaders will pick it up and heed the call to faithfulness to the Gospel, the local Church for the purpose of advancing the Kingdom of God to the glory of God.
Authors: Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer
Publisher: B&H (2010)
I received this for free from B&H book review program for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Dave Jenkins is happily married to his wife, Sarah. He is a writer, editor, and speaker living in beautiful Southern Oregon. Dave is a lover of Christ, His people, the Church, and sound theology. He serves as the Executive Director of Servants of Grace Ministries, the Executive Editor of Theology for Life Magazine, the Host and Producer of Equipping You in Grace Podcast, and is a contributor to and producer of Contending for the Word. He is the author of The Word Explored: The Problem of Biblical Illiteracy and What To Do About It (House to House, 2021), The Word Matters: Defending Biblical Authority Against the Spirit of the Age (G3 Press, 2022), and Contentment: The Journey of a Lifetime (Theology for Life, 2024). You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, or read his newsletter. Dave loves to spend time with his wife, going to movies, eating at a nice restaurant, or going out for a round of golf with a good friend. He is also a voracious reader, in particular of Reformed theology, and the Puritans. You will often find him when he’s not busy with ministry reading a pile of the latest books from a wide variety of Christian publishers. Dave received his M.A.R. and M.Div through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.