Item description for The Great Giveaway: Reclaiming the Mission of the Church from Big Business, Parachurch Organizations, Psychotherapy, Consumer Capitalism, and Other Modern Maladies by David E. Fitch...
Overview Has the North American church relinquished her God-given mission to parachurch organizations, psychotherapy, and consumer capitalism? Warning that postmodern evangelicals are increasingly modeling their ministries after secular sciences and "farming out" church functions in the name of efficiency, Fitch challenges believers to reclaim the lost practices of evangelism, physical healing, and spiritual formation.
Publishers Description "North American evangelicals learned to do church in relation to modernity," asserts David Fitch. Furthermore, evangelicals have begun to model their ministries after the secular sciences or even to farm out functions of the church whenever it seems more efficient. As a result, the church, too often, has stopped being the church. In The Great Giveaway, Fitch examines various church practices and shows how and why each function has been compromised by modernity. Discussing such ministries as evangelism, physical healing, and spiritual formation, Fitch challenges Christians to reclaim these lost practices so that the church can regain its influence. Pastors, leaders, and students who minister to the postmodern world will find in this book fresh insight that will stir the hearts of many and spark much-needed discussion about the evangelical church.
From Publishers Weekly This is a searing but loving insider critique of the individualism that marks
North American evangelicals. Fitch, senior pastor of the Life on the Vine
Christian community in Arlington Heights, Ill., blames an embrace of modernism
for attempts by evangelicals to "individualize, commodify, and package
Christianity." He criticizes mega-churches that end up functioning like
capitalist businesses with CEO-style pastors judging success by the number of
"decisions for Christ" produced. Each chapter outlines the various ways
evangelicalism has "given away" its influence and then offers concrete
practices designed to help the church reclaim its mission. Fitch's most
scathing criticism is saved for the evangelical willingness to embrace modern
psychology, which he blasts as patient-centered rather than Christ-centered.
He challenges evangelical churches to think smaller (in terms of congregation
size), place less focus on coercive evangelism, return to communal catechesis,
offer more liturgical worship and provide opportunities for small group
intimacy where Christians can confess their sins, repent, read scripture and
pray together regularly. Intellectually rigorous, this book's critical tone
will undoubtedly upset many conservative evangelicals, but will point the way
for the more moderate ones for years to come. (Oct. 15) Copyright 2005 Reed
Citations And Professional Reviews The Great Giveaway: Reclaiming the Mission of the Church from Big Business, Parachurch Organizations, Psychotherapy, Consumer Capitalism, and Other Modern Maladies by David E. Fitch has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Publishers Weekly - 08/22/2005 page 60
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Studio: Baker Books
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.8" Width: 5.9" Height: 0.7" Weight: 0.95 lbs.
Release Date Nov 1, 2005
Publisher Baker Publishing Group
ISBN 080106483X ISBN13 9780801064838
Availability 0 units.
More About David E. Fitch
David Fitch (Ph.D., Northwestern University) is pastor of Life on the Vine Christian Community of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Long Grove, Illinois, and is adjunct professor of ministry, theology, and ethics at Northern Seminary.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Great Giveaway: Reclaiming the Mission of the Church from Big Business, Parachurch Organizations, Psychotherapy, Consumer Capitalism, and Other Modern Maladies?
Do yourself a favor and read this book! Jan 9, 2007
Fitch's overall intention in the book is to show how modernity has transformed clear gospel teaching into modernistic trends, he does this by looking at eight areas including success, evangelism, leadership, the production of experience, preaching, justice, spiritual formation, and moral education. Then the "task" of the book is to (1) examine the ways we have "given away" being the church to modernity by allowing its influence to individualize, universalize, syncretize, and commodify the tasks, truths, and even the very salvation we have been given as a people from god through Jesus Christ, and (2) to offer practices to evangelicals by which we may receive back being the church, the people of God ruled by Jesus as Lord in resistance to such modern influences.
List strengths of book. With each of the eight areas of discussion there are clear strengths to be found in the explanation and solutions offered, however the strongest areas of the book include the chapters dealing with success, evangelism and spiritual formation. With the topic of success, Fitch contends that we measure success by size because we have accepted the modern values of individualism and efficiency. Instead, success should be measured by measuring faithfulness rather than size. With the topic of evangelism he states that we rely on arguments, presentations, and proofs in our Gospel presentations, rather than embodying the reality of Jesus Christ being lived within our churches. And with spiritual formation we have accepted therapy and psychology, and in many cases have substituted these for the biblical practices of confession, repentance, and speaking the truth in love in the context of community. Additionally, the book includes over thirty pages of excellent notes for further study and reflection.
List weaknesses of book. While I believe there will be more than a few people who believe Fitch's assessment is incorrect because they find it difficult to see beyond a modern perspective, I find very little not to like about this book.
excellent first chapter! worth the price of the whole book! Apr 19, 2006
the author has it right, although he swims up stream against the overwhelming majority of church growth authors, speakers, and thinkers. chapter one is brilliant because it breaks down the reality that exists in most large mega-churches and even large church wannabe ministries, to uncover the main spiritual problem: lack of true christian commitment and discipleship. his claim is that out of a 1000 person church, maybe 100 or so persons are really following christ, and the rest may have made a "decision" for christ but probably haven't turned from sin and turned to christ. if this is so, is this kind of mega-church really a success? according to church growth thinking, yes, because of the numerical increases, but according to the bible's test for a church, it's questionable. the author criticizes the modern superficial definition of church success. his claim that the church must give up such simplistic measurements of success is right on. every church pastor, every church leader, and every concerned christian should read chapter one, just to get an alternative voice to the almost universal church growth thinking that is rapidly capturing christian thinking today. numerical church growth isn't the solution, nor is starting new churches if all we do is call for decisions without discipleship. the author questions the wisdom of gathering thousands of persons with little or no commitment to christ, with 100 or so truly committed persons, and calling that totality a church, or calling it a success. he suggests that we need to return to spiritual formation that produces disciples not superficial decisions, and that numerical growth should not be our goal, but rather true discipleship growth should be the target we aim at and work toward. the unhealthy preoccupation with numerical, statistical growth can actually lead us astray from our true calling. this book is a must read for anyone who is not satisfied with the general low-level of commitment found in typical churches today. it points the way to a biblical solution.
Recommended to all concerned evangelicals Mar 7, 2006
The Great Giveaway is an honest and wide-ranging guide for everyone who is concerned about the growing "worldliness" of the evangelical movement. Fitch's analysis is both trenchent and biblical and his suggestions are faithful to historic Christian orthodoxy, though perhaps a bit difficult to implement. Despite a couple of problematic issues that I will discuss further below, I wholly recommend this book to all those concerned that we as evangelicals are losing a sense of what it means to be the church.
In the end, not only has Fitch made accessible the withering critique of modernity offered from McIntyre, Yoder, Milbank, and Hauerwas, but he has done a great service for the evangelical community in humbly offering suggestions for the the local gathered community; when faithfully shaped by God's revealed Word and the practices of being the church, it can and must be the site of our apologetics, justice, worship, spiritual formation, and moral education. Unlike many who proclaim themselves as participating in the Emergent conversation, Fitch seems profoundly committed to the Christian tradition, and his embrace of a postmodern mode of analysis is employed not with a sense of smug sophistication, but to call the church back to greater faithfulness. For those Christians who see no problem in our being transformed by the pattern of this world, we ignore the eloquent criticism and ecclesiological vision of David Fitch at our peril. Highly Recommended. - Daniel Kruse Gloier, Christian Book Previews.com
Excellent Message to All Who Want to Understand Christians in 2006 Mar 7, 2006
This book is well written, and in plain English. An easy read ... but for thinkers. It is not entertainment reading.
Christians and non-Christians will benefit greatly from this information. Fitch really gets it about the dynamics of our post-modern American culture and how it has rendered people of faith virtually ineffective in so many ways.
The confusion of our age ... separation of church and state ... has deceived society into thinking that Christian influence is a bad thing. Without it, the USA would not be the country it is today. We couldn't even hold a local election ... so many precincts VOTE on church property.
WAKE UP AMERICA ... read this book and get with the new program ... back to basics, like integrity, honesty, caring more for others than ourselves, not being afraid of life because we watch the news too much.
Thank you, Dave. Thank you, Ruth and Elmer (his parents) for raising a courageous man who speaks the truth!
i guess i'm just an old modernist at heart Feb 16, 2006
I came to the book by way of an online recommendation concerning the Christian Churches Ministry of Mercy, i was unfamiliar with either the author or the emergent church movement before i started this book. I had a terrible time getting through the book. Not because it is difficult reading, it's not- addressed at intelligent layman, not technical. Not because i violently disagree with the author at every point and would rather throw the book away then finish it, for there were many times that i said "hey, that's the same thing as i think". But rather the problem stems from a use of vocabulary and phrasing that really sets my theologically error feelers wiggling. It is his use of the terms "post modern" "modernist" and a really set of ideas that has me either baffled, deeply confused, mislabelled, irritated, or just too old and out of the loop of moden thinking, i'm not sure which or which combination it is. In any case, i set the book down, put it underneath others to read first, yelled at it, and generally provoked a response of denial and puzzlement.
I don't know what to make of this post-modern versus modernist divide he speaks of, i got to the point that i had heard it in so many different ways that there was an enforced familiarity with his ideas without really understanding them, a quieting of the yelling on my part so that i could pay better attention to his ideas. But even with this, i don't really have the desire to pursue the division, nor to read his quoted works to find out where his ideas came from, for me a sign that the book was interesting but not very motivating or persuasive. Often i drop somethings to follow up a good book, a good author or an interesting set of arguments, i didn't in this case. His arguments about being in a postmodern age with a very different kind of people then us old fashioned modernists bore me more than inspire, big deal.
But that cavet aside, the more than a week it took to read, it isn't a bad book. Much of what he says, especially in a descriptive way appears to me to be right and proper criticism of the modern church. His prescriptions are less persuasive, more nebulous, often unobtainable even within his church and his committed circle of likeminded people. This is not an argument not to persue the ideas, but rather one of cautiousness about trying to change things too much, too fast. (can't believe i said that, i must really be getting old and set in my ways, my dad called it realism, i'm not sure what i call it).
Because of the specialized vocabulary, which struck me like reading orthodox Marxists-boy their language is really different than mine, even though we use the same terms they mean almost the opposite to us-i don't recommend just picking up the book and reading anywhere. It looks as if this is a front to back reader, start for flavor in the introduction, if your a fossil modernist like i apparently am, you can at least see what he wants to accomplish with the book and decide if you can read it all without throwing it at the nearest wall.
I have great affinity for the underlying ideas, however. The church has sold or given away it's birthright for a mess of porridge, he is right on the topics he zeroes in on. These are the big ways that the church has compromised with the culture. He is best in the middle chapters "The Production of Experience" and the "Preaching of the Word", the first i find persuasive the second downright wrong, but he has well documented his arguments and has a point, even when i think it wrong, it is worth hearing his side. That in itself is a valuable thing to gain from the book- a wider experience of what people think good and proper ways to do things in the church. In his later two chapters on "Moral Education" and "Spiritual Formation", on child education and psychology respectively are preaching to the choir, even with his prescriptions, despite the problems i have with his great divide-modernism and postmodernism. The big point of catechesis and rites of passage are properly substantially right, it is problems with implementation that i would look at next. But the book is mostly persuasive to description not prescription, although he is careful to present either what he had done with the church, what he has experienced as corrective to the problems he outlines. But the emphasises is on convincing people that there is a problem, more than convincing people to accept his solutions to the problems.
I'm not sure who is going to read this book, even more unsure of who is going to stick it out and finish it. Maybe it is written to these postmodernists and they will find it the best thing since sliced bread, i don't know. I won't recommend it to my friends at church for i think they'd have the same problem as did i. That there are other books with the same descriptions of the problems. His accent on the believing community of the church working through the issues as a living breathing community engaged with the issues is a common enough idea, especially from the Mennonite or Historic Peace churches that this is not so unique of a voice that you must read this one book to here it. So i guess the natural audience is people like him, who have passed through or been born after the great modernist-post modern divide and see him as Moses leading into the promised land of the emergent church. I guess i was just born too early for this journey.
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