Book Review: Essential Church?

It is no secret the church is losing young people. Many 18-22 year olds are choosing to leave the church. Why? Well, in short, they are doing so because they do not see it essential to their lives. While a number of specific reasons can be given, that is the constant theme throughout them. If this is indeed the case, then, what is the church to do? Thom Rainer and his son, Sam S. Rainer III, ask this very question in their work Essential Church? Reclaiming a Generation of Dropouts. They write in two parts: (1) the problem the church is facing and (2) the solution, or steps toward, for reclaiming this generation for Christ.

The Rainers show through their thorough research the issues of young adults and the church. Again and again they reiterate the point that these young people did not see the church as essential-churchessential. Comments like “I guess I never saw how my faith and my church connected” (Rainer and Rainer 26) should cause church leaders and members to consider what the church is doing if she is not connecting the body of Christ to daily life. A few of the main points hit over a number of times throughout the book is in the fact young people strive to see the church reach out, to know why they are going, and to feel like they are participating in the life of the church. Thus, the Rainers call for a four-fold solution: (1) simplify-the right structure; (2) deepen-the right content; (3) expect-the right attitude; (4) multply-the right action. They set out the rest of the book to describe further what they mean by each.

Essential Church? is eye-opening book, reminding the church they need to reach this young generation by being open, honest, relational, and missional. There is a great need for intentionality and to answer the ‘why’ of what the church does. That makes this book worth the read. However, the emphasis and continual reiteration on statistics can cause one to become a little stagnant in their reading. Nevertheless, Essential Church?, although not necessarily a must read for church leaders and members, is a good read in order to better understand this upcoming generation.

I received this book for free from B & H Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the resource.

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