Sometime ago I heard that my friend, Marty Duren, was working together with another pastor, Todd Wright, to author a book on helping churches transition to relevancy. While I was excited about reading the book because of my relationship with Marty and my appreciation for his writing prowess, I was interested to find out just how powerful the content of the book would be. Marty sent me a pre-release copy a few weeks ago to read and review. I opened it up that night as I settled into bed and ended up staying up through the night to read the entire book. I literally could not put it down!
Journeys :: Transitioning Churches to Relevance is a dynamic book that tells the story of two churches who struggled with their current modes of church life as they searched for greater significance and impact in their community. Every other chapter is written by each of the authors and the process of moving back and forth between the two church’s stories helps grab your attention and build excitement for the conclusion of the book.
As I read through the pages of the book I was constantly reminded of the same internal struggles that I have dealt with for some time now over what appears to be the inefficiencies of the American church. It was encouraging to me to hear that many of the transitions that the authors experienced were personal before they could be corporate, and even though these struggles were painful to process, I am convinced that more of our pastors need to go through a similar transition or our churches are going to continue to diminish in impact and influence for the Kingdom of God.
If you are a pastor in an existing church I would highly recommend that you get a copy of this book and consider the content. What I particularly found helpful in the book was the transparency of the authors to reveal not only the heart changes that God orchestrated to bring them to the place where transitions could happen, they also spare no detail of the personal struggles and even failures that accompanied their journey. Reading through those experiences help to confirm the reality that this transition is not easy but is possible in each church.
The book features the writing of two pastors, Duren and Wright, both of whom pastor in Georgia which is even more helpful because if this transition can occur in Georgia Southern Baptist churches, it’s possible anywhere. 🙂 The stories of New Bethany Church in Buford, GA and Midway Church in Villa Rica, GA are enjoyable and educational, not to mention encouraging.
If you are serious about kingdom impact and connecting people with the message of Christ I would encourage you to grab a copy of this book. What’s even better is that the publishing company and the authors are making the book available for a short time at a discounted rate of $11.99 which is $3 off the listed price of $14.99. The book will also soon be available through Amazon as well as other book retailers. I’m ordering copies for all of my staff and our elders at our church to read as we think about our own Kingdom impact in the St. Joseph area. You can purchase it by clicking here.
As I conclude this review I wanted to list the endorsements that Duren and Wright have received for their book. The endorsements alone should speak well about the content of the book.
This new book by Duren and Wright is a book which will challenge, encourage, and even disturb readers. It is a brutally honest story of the struggle of two young pastors who yearn to see their churches impact culture for the cause of Christ in a way that is truly effective. Their struggles can be identified with most who have diligently sought to break out of traditional patterns and make a unique and powerful difference in reaching people for Christ. They desperately wanted to “be the church that God was calling us to be in our context and in our time.” The struggles that they faced are honestly included. The lessons learned truly point to God’s ongoing ministry to His servants.
It is a call to have a Kingdom philosophy of ministry as well as a missional approach to life. I commend this book to you. It is one that will help the next generation as they struggle in a less than easy environment in seeking to reach an ever increasing secular culture.
This book personifies the amazing persistence of God to graciously shape and effectively use us in His ongoing and always relevant work of restoring relationships with the highest order of His creation-people-of every tribe, tongue and nation. From a missionary point of view, it is a joy to learn of American pastors who are doing the same things that they would expect from foreign missionaries, namely to make whatever transitions are necessary in order to, in a culturally relevant way, faithfully communicate the fullness of God’s love to the people of the host culture. Consider this book as a compelling, educational and transparent missionary journal of two pastors who have led their congregations to become both local and global missionaries to the current generations of unreached people living in the United States’ Southeast and beyond. May their tribe increase!
Jim Capaldo, Russia Field Director, InterAct Ministries
Lots of people can tell you what to do. Some can do so through research, others through personal observation, and still others through their intuition. In JOURNEYS: Transitioning Churches To Relevance, Marty and Todd take us on a journey and tell us a story—and it is a worthwhile journey and a moving story. Instead of telling you what to do, Marty and Todd tell their journey from religious role-playing to personal transformation…and from personal transformation to fresh expressions of mission and ministry in their churches. I found myself engaged and challenged and believe you will as well.
Ed Stetzer, co-author of Comeback Churches and Compelled by Love and Director of LifeWay Research
When it comes to writing books about leading transition in the church, there are three types of pastors. There are those who have led change and do not take the time to write about it. There are those who have not led change but write about how to do it anyway. And there are those that have actually done it well and written it down. Todd Wright and Marty Duren are definitely in the right category.
This book rocks! It is the actual story of how they did it – and provides big insights and big ideas. If your church is transition, this is a must read!
Dan Southerland, author, Transitioning and Pastor of Extension, Next Level Church , Charlotte