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Who Stole My Church?    by Gordon MacDonald order for
Who Stole My Church?
by Gordon MacDonald
Order:  USA  Can
Thomas Nelson, 2008 (2008)

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* * *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

This is a timely and fascinating book about church change. The author uses a unique approach that will appeal to readers in a way that a straightforward non-fiction book would not. He creates a fictional church filled with fictional church members who are an amalgamation of every church member he has known.

Gordon MacDonald, a pastor, gives himself the role of the pastor of this fictional church. The church members have come to a crossroads, not unlike the ones thousands of churches and millions of church members are going through around the United States. Members in their 50s, 60s, and 70s feel like the churches they have nurtured, funded, loved, and made the center of their lives for decades have been hijacked out from under them by younger members who 'want to change everything.'

MacDonald approaches this by forming a small group of these long time members. He as a pastor initiates a dialogue with them about the changes, and addresses the fact that the church must change in order to remain viable in the future. He also finds a way to bring these older members along for the ride, because their expertise and maturity cannot be lost for the sake of appealing to a younger congregation. He talks about issues in the church such as music, clothing, format of the worship service, and the way that young people today relate to each other.

The author also discusses the difference between the modern and post-modern generations. The way that many people of the older generation were introduced to Christianity, and what worked for them, often does not appeal to, or work with, this younger group.

What makes this book so incredibly powerful, other than it being fictionalized non-fiction (which will appeal to many) is that it addresses the issue from the side of the people trying to adjust to the changes. It's not a book filled with fabulous bright and shiny ideas for how to make your church appealing to twenty-first century Christians, but rather about nurturing long term church members and helping them to understand the necessity of change for the good of the church in the future. Personally I am caught between the two different generations, and I found this book invaluable to help me understand each side of the issue.

This is an incredible book, one that every pastor should take the time to read. It is also appropriate for change-initiators in churches as well as the older generation who might possibly be resisting such changes. There's a very common quote: 'The church is only one generation from extinction,' and Christians need to seriously take this to heart. Who Stole My Church? is an excellent resource which members of Christian churches can use to address generational differences and keep the church from disappearing.

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