Throughout churches in America, there is a growing fear of whether their local churches will continue to survive. Sure, the growing hostility toward Christianity has made an impact on this and it seems fewer youth are actively coming to church. But does that mean the church is on a downward spiral? By no means. The church, even in a hostile culture, can shine the light. J.D. Greear makes the case that this future belongs to the churches that send. In order to gain for the gospel, we must be willing to lose people by sending them for the sake of the gospel. Indeed, that is what Gaining by Losing by J.D. Greear is all about.
The book begins by introducing this theme in chapters 1-2 and then chapters 3-12 are devoted to going through 10 sending plumb lines that are emphasized at The Summit Church, where Greear pastors. In the two appendices, directions for international missions strategy are given. The book is not without its critiques but it is personal, balanced, and thought-provoking.
One of the observations you will see again and again is the personal touch Greear gives to the book. He opens up in chapter 2 about his church’s struggle to be a church that sends. He does not claim he, or the church he pastors, has all the answers but that they are learning along the way as well. Moreover, one can appreciate the personal touch he gives when sharing lighthearted and funny anecdotes. His humor does not get in the way of the points he is making but solidifies them.
A second feature of this book is its balance. The author does not fall into extremes; rather, multiple times he cautions the readers of extremes not to fall into. The supremacy of the gospel is a good example. While good works play a part in witnessing, the good news means, first and foremost, something that must be announced (Greear 122, 168). The gospel must be spoken and shared. That is why chapter 8, on the essential task of making disciples, is such a heart-penetrating chapter.
Not only is the chapter heart-penetrating; the book is thought-provoking. For instance, the author points out of the 40 miracles in Acts, 39 of those happened outside the walls of church meetings (Greear 89). We cannot simply expect people to come to our Sunday worship services. We need to be going to them and giving them the gospel. In another place, J.D. Greear states his belief that the future of sending missionaries will not be the traditional way we are accustomed to (Greear 102). The future will come through the sending of businessmen and businesswomen who understand their roles as ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20).
As I mentioned, however, Gaining by Losing does not come without a few critiques. There are certain places where it seems Greear uses a Bible passage and forces his point upon it. I do not mean he says anything heretical or that he misses the point of the passage entirely but that he puts too much emphasis into a passage. One may not fully see eye-to-eye on all the practices Greear mentions but what he shares is helpful. The only critique I struggle with in Gaining by Losing is its relation to smaller churches. The subject is addressed in a couple of different places but is not really sufficient. I understand every book has its limits and the point of this book was not to necessarily focus on that. However, as a pastor with a small church, it would have been more fruitful to have more discussion on sending in the context of small churches. All said, Gaining by Losing serves as a decent resource for pastors and church leaders. It is a personal, balanced, and thought-provoking work.
I received this book for free from Zondervan via Cross Focused Reviews 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 book.