The author, dean of the Cathedral Church of St. Michael and All Saints, diocese of Kootenay reflects on the church's fixation on the number of people in the pews. "We work ourselves into a frenzy, coaxing people into church to fill the pews, hoping against hope that this is how we will save their souls. It doesn't help that mainline churches have witnessed the rise of the non-denominational 'box churches', hankering after their extraordinary numbers and ostensible success. Surely, size still matters ! As I move towards retirement, I realize that, indeed, size does matter, but not in the way we might think. I am attracted by remnant theology where success is not measured by quantity. The remnant church offers enormous possibilities for the growth of something new, possibilities that could sadly be missed if our focus is on the accumulation of large numbers".
Includes bibliographical references and bibliography: p. -113.
"The purpose of this book is to share with you our reflections on what happens to people as they discover, explore, and then join a local congregation. Some of what we will have to say here is descriptive of our experience and what we have heard newcomers say about what befell them as they moved into a congregation. In other parts of this book you will find that what we have to say is prescriptive, that is, we will suggest some things that have been useful to leaders in developing processes to assist newcomers as they discover, explore, and then join a local congregation. We have also been surprised by some things that don't seem to help much in assimilating people into the church". -- Intro., p. 2.
Contents: Acknowledgements / Speed Leas, Roy Oswald -- Introduction -- Church Growth and Factors Outside the Control of the Congregation -- Church Growth and Factors Within the Control of the Congregation -- Church Size and Assimilation -- Attracting and Recruiting New Members -- Incorporating -- Joining -- Going Deeper -- Where Do We Go From Here -- Appendix A: All Saints Episcopal Church's Assimilation Plan / Patrick Thyne and Neil Warren -- Appendix B: Interview Questions -- Appendix C: New Member Assimilation Rating Scale -- Bibliography.
"Roy M. Oswald [is] a Lutheran pastor .... Speed B. Leas [is] a United Church of Christ minister". -- back cover.
"This book is about what the church is to be and the jobs it has to do in a changing world and in cultures they delight in being 'postmodern' and 'post-Christian'. ... The church is concerned with specific (and sometimes quite small) local communities, but also, on a larger scale, with government plans for urban or rural regeneration and the implications for pastoral care and mission of these plans. Both ends of our concern receive attention here. .... Finally, I have tried to write about controversial matters that have divided Christians in the past, in such a way as to transcend past divisions and to approach the issues with fresh eyes and an open mind, relying on recent scholarship to do this." -- Pp. 11, 12.
Contents: David Hope, Archbishop of York -- An Introductory Word -- Is There a Gospel for the Twenty-First Century ? -- Is There a Future for the Church ? -- Fundamentals of Being Church -- Models of the Church -- Ways of Being Church -- What Kind of Ministry Does the Church Require ? -- One So That the World May Believe -- Rendering to Caesar -- And Finally -- A Study Guide for Groups -- Notes -- Index of Names, Places and Subjects -- Index of Biblical References..
Author is the Anglican Bishop of Rochester in England.
"My purpose in writing this book is to help congregations (perhaps especially congregations of the so-called mainline denominations) become more effective in connecting with people currently outside of church life and a vital Christian faith in order to influence them with the gospel. Many mainline congregations have ambivalent feelings about church growth. ... most congregations would like to grow, but at the same time they don't want to get caught up in what many refer to as `the numbers game'. I think that what they are trying to say is that they want growth with integrity. This book seeks to address this issue. Another difficulty that many congregations face is that they have no real idea of how to think about growth in a strategic way or how to focus their energies and prioritize their activities and resources so that they might be able to grow. In this book I identify four distinct categories of people whom a typical church can influence and offer some thoughts on what a church might do in order to be able to connect with people in each of these categories". -- Intro., p. 13.
Contents: Foreword / Thomas G. Bandy -- Introduction -- Thinking About Growth -- Those in the Pews -- Those Who Walk In -- Friends and Family of Members -- Those Who Live in the Neighbourhood -- Postscript -- Appendix 1: The Harvest Bible Study -- Appendix 2: Becoming a Vital Congregation -- Appendix 3: Helping Your Congregation Thrive -- Notes.
Author is an Anglican priest, rector of Trinity Anglican Church, Streetsville, in the diocese of Toronto.