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Church for the Unchurched [Paperback]

By George G. Hunter (Author)
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Item description for Church for the Unchurched by George G. Hunter...

Hunter discusses the rebirth of the apostolic congregation, Christianity's vision of what people can become, how small groups shape an apostolic people, how lay ministry advances the Christian movement, and how apostolic churches reach secular people.

Publishers Description

Hunter discusses the rebirth of the apostolic congregation, Christianity's vision of what people can become, how small groups shape an apostolic people, how lay ministry advances the Christian movement, and how apostolic churches reach secular people.

This work shows that there is an apostolic way for a congregation to live out the gospel, and here is why church leaders think so:

"George Hunter hits the nail on the head with this practical and encouraging guide to church-based evangelism."-Steve Sjogren, Senior Pastor, Vineyard Community Church, Cincinnati, Ohio.

"This is a groundbreaking book. What sets it apart from all the others is that it is based on hard data and real life examples...If you want to know what is really happening in the so-called Seeker churches, this book is a must read." --Rick Warren, Senior Pastor, Saddleback Community Church, Mission Viejo, California

"George Hunter hits a home run with this book." --Walt Kallestad, Community Church of Joy, Phoenix, Arizona

"Our commitment to the rebirth of apostolic congregations will be greatly enhanced by this book." --John Ed Mathison, Frazier Memorial United Methodist Church, Montgomery, Alabama

"Apostolic churches present a tremendous challenge to stagnant traditional churches. It is required reading for all who yearn to see the growth of the church." --Sir Alan Walker, Australia

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Abingdon Press
Pages   188
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.03" Width: 6.18" Height: 0.56"
Weight:   0.75 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 1996
Publisher   Abingdon Church Supplies
ISBN  0687277329  
ISBN13  9780687277322  

Availability  121 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 27, 2016 09:03.
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George G. Hunter has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Adaptive Leadership

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Reference
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > Protestant
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Clergy > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Clergy > Ministry
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Evangelism > General
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Church for the Unchurched?

A challenging examination of why we do church the way we do  Apr 23, 2005
George Hunter examined the differences between churches in American that are in serious decline and those experiencing vibrant growth. With the overwhelming majority of American churches either plateaued or declining, Hunter wanted to know what made the difference. His thesis was that changes in the American culture have caused the role and influence of the church to diminish. Traditional church programs, structures, and symbols, which arose and flourished in the nineteenth century, no longer appeal to the culture of today. America has experienced a forty-yearlong cultural paradigm shift from modernity to postmodernism. Those churches that have adapted better to this cultural shift have exhibited tremendous success. Hunter calls these "apostolic" churches. These apostolic churches employ a ministry model consistent with the incipient church of the first century A.D. Just as the first century church was able to exegete its culture and provide culturally sensitive ministry, successful churches of the twenty-first century must understand their unique cultural dynamics and develop a ministry model consistent with its ministry context. Thriving churches take their culture seriously and adapt to their target audience. Hunter profiled nine apostolic churches that have effectively done this.
Hunter also concluded that not only had traditional churches failed to adapt their ministry approach to the changing cultural milieu, their goals violate the original apostolic mission. Traditional churches desire to conform the beliefs, behavior, and characteristics of non-Christians to reflect those of their current membership. Their goal is to perpetuate the institution of the church in its present traditional form (e.g., pulpits, pews, and pipe organs). Non-Christians largely reject this effort as an unwarranted attempt to alter their cultural identity. Apostolic churches have the goal of transforming people into kingdom citizens equipped and energized to reach family and friends with the gospel message while respecting their culture. The aim of apostolic churches is to help people build loving relationships with God, fellow believers, and potential believers. Apostolic churches do a good job of adapting their expression of gospel truths in culturally appealing ways without compromising the essentials of the faith. Apostolic churches will even designed worship services to be non-threatening and culturally appealing.
A key aspect of most apostolic churches is that they seek to connect believers and seekers with small groups. Hunter noted the biblical and historical precedent for small groups. Apostolic churches enable people to connect with several types of groups: nurture, discipleship, support, recovery, and ministry. Within these small groups, believers and seekers alike experience a community of caring and compassion dedicated to mutual support and spiritual growth. Members of the group share a common affinity and mutual accountability that binds them to the church and its Savior.
Finally, apostolic churches have shattered the traditional dichotomy between clergy and laity. Hunter noted that the rise of the professional clergy class was an extra-biblical development that robbed church members of their God-given ministries and violated the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers.
Critical Analysis of Strengths and Weaknesses
Hunter's title, Church for the Unchurched, is disturbing on its face. One must ask, For whom does the church exist? Such a question goes to the heart of ecclesiastical theology. Hunter and the nine churches he profiled have answered that question by saying that the church exists for those yet to believe. Traditionalists will disagree. The church is the community of faith and the faithful. If a traditional church adopted Hunter's thesis and implemented the requisite changes, most church members would no longer recognize "their" church. What can a pastor say to long-term members who no longer recognize the songs, structures, and systems that were so formative in their spiritual maturation?
If non-Christians feel like outsiders, it is because they are. The church is a worshipping community. Non-Christians cannot worship because they are ignorant of who it is Christians worship. The church is a witnessing community. Again, non-Christians cannot share a faith they do not possess. They can experience ministry in Christ's name, but they cannot engage in Christian ministry. The best the non-Christian can expect from his or her exposure to the church is fellowship--thus the clarion call for small groups.
Hunter made his greatest contribution with his discussion of the importance of affinity groups. Through exposure to Christians living out the call of Christ, non-Christians can see the claims of Christ validated. Hunter is correct that North American culture has changed. One of the elements of this new culture centers on the desire for intimate relationships and authentic lifestyles. Christians, who are growing in their faith and have a passion to see others come to Christ, can demonstrate authenticity while building relationships with lost people in a non-threatening atmosphere. Unfortunately, many Christians are not growing in their faith; or if they are, they feel ill equipped for the demands of apostolic ministry. Pastors of traditional church cannot get enough volunteers to staff the nursery on Sunday mornings. How can they motivate those same people to open their homes for a weekly care group?
While the principle of affinity groups is sound on its face, one must ask how the children are being reached and discipled. Hunter noted how important in-home care groups are for the developing of authentic relationships, but where are the children while the adults are bonding? Non-Christians, the reader is told, are not likely to attend a formal Bible study in the intimidating environment of the church building. However, it is through the graded Sunday school program that their children can hear the same Gospel truths.
Evaluation of Author's Success
Hunter achieved his objective. He profiled churches that make attracting and keep non-Christians a priority. He thoroughly reviewed their structure and systems. He gave sound biblical and theological reasons supporting his thesis. He profiled new church starts and traditional churches that made the transition to seeker-friendliness. His book would have been more valuable had he detailed the strategy for successfully transitioning a traditional church to an apostolic church. This reviewer kept wondering how an established church overcame the myriad of obstacles posed by traditional churches. Additionally, the bullet statements on the back cover would have meant more if they did not come from the pastors of the churches profiled in the book.
A must read for those serious about the Great Commission  Aug 15, 2004
George Hunter's book, "Church for the Unchurched" is a look of the principles that contribute to the success of churches in reaching out to unchurched, pre-Christian people. Hunter sees some common characterizations among these churches, although as he says, "one finds enough variety among them to find an exception to almost any generalization" (p.13). Hunter studied nine churches, with the most notable being Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago, Saddleback Valley Community Church in Orange County, California, and Vineyard Community Church in Cincinnati. Hunter has six chapters.

Hunter begins by saying that the church is beginning to see the world through two lenses: the lens of Secularity and Modernity (p.20). Secular means that Christianity does not influence people, although this doesn't mean they are irreligious. There is a spiritual quest taking place in our world, but as Hunter says, "people now are about as likely to look outside the Christian tradition as inside it" (p.20). Modernity, which sprang from the eighteenth century Enlightenment, pictured a world that was rational, good, influenced more by Deism, scientific, and one that put a high value and emphasis on education. It was also pluralistic as far as religions are concerned. However, Hunter says that the world is becoming more postmodern. The Enlightenment's view, "which became the intellectual foundations of the modern Western world, have been questioned or abandoned-leaving the Western humanity without a consensus worldview" (p.22). What this means is that modern Christianity has lost its influenced because it no longer makes sense to some postmodern people. As Hunter says, "Christendom is largely dissolved, and the peoples of Europe and North America are increasingly secular" and "people are increasingly receptive to, and searching for, a satisfying worldview" and that "we are, once again, in an Apostolic age-much like the age that early Christianity engaged" (p.23).

Churches today are stuck in a rut of "doing" church for an audience that is mostly Christian. And if we are going to fulfill the Great Commission for this new postmodern world, churches will need to take seriously the command of Jesus to "gather the harvest", as Jesus commanded. The traditional church is no longer able to reach out because of the "traditionalist" aspect of the method of sharing (pgs.24-25). We use methods and approaches that do not attract or reach out to secular people. We do not target unchurched, non-Christians (p.26). This is where Hunter's nine churches come in because they are reaching unchurched, non-Christian people.

These Apostolic churches are "apostolic" because, like the root term "apostle" and patterned after the New Testament apostles, like Paul, "their leaders believe that they and the church are `called' and `sent' by God to reach an unchurched pre-Christian population" (p.28). I believe that this is an important aspect that churches need to embrace. The Great Commission is an imperative for the church. This is what we are to be doing. I highly recommend this book to all.
Opens ones eyes to our church culture  Nov 16, 2002
I found this book in our church library that had been left from a previous pastor. Being familiar with George Hunter and his work at Asbury Seminary, I was anxious to read what he had to say.

This book offers some solid insights to why people may be reluctant to go to ones church. The book in my estimation tries to take the reader outside of ones church culture and give them insight as to why some may find going to your church difficult.

I found the beginning of the book very helpful as it tried to address culture and reaching those who are part of the unchurched culture. However, the second part of the book which dealt with differing programs and functions in reaching the unchurched was very similar to a lot of the church growth books I have read. However, for one just picking up this book, they should find this section helpful.

Overall, this book is an excellent resource in trying to get the church to think about how it should respond and reach out to the world. While being somewhat dated, it still can be of good use.

Rodboomboom never read the book!!!  Apr 19, 2001
As a professor of Religion, I have used this book to teach many classes. Dr. Hunter just came to my school to lecture on some of his methods. Dr. Hunter has been noted as the number one Church Growth and Evangelism lecturer in the United States. This book is very helpful...but challenging to read. Many of my students have found some parts hard to understand because of the language he uses. Definitely worth the read....(Oh and Trust me the Theology is Right on Target with the scripture)
Oxymoron title gives away the author's unbiblical view  Jan 24, 2001
In typical church growth fashion, Hunter hastily claims that doctrine is pure and met by these modern apostolic churches and then moves on to the important apostolic qualification in his mind, they are growing by reaching out to the unchurched.

The church can only be defined as the believers, as Luther said any seven year old will answer if asked where is the church? The church is where believers in Christ is! So the unchurched are not part of this believing group and they cannot participate in the church's worship since it is only possible for a believer to worship God. Without faith in the true God, it is impossible to do anything pleasing to Him.

This unmasks the severe decline of Biblical sensitivity and discernment in Christianity today, to follow one as Hunter who puts forward congregations which do not confess the doctrines of the apostles, but in Hunter's mind, evangelize in the apostles' way. This is not true either, e.g. see Galatians 1:6-10, and chapter 2, or John 6:52-68. The early church believed that only those churches which followed the apostles' teachings, not just building number of followers was holding to the apostles'.

For those serious about this, research "Eucharist and Church Fellowship in the first four centuries" by W. Elert. Hunter's book, although meaning well to grow the church, does not adhere to letting the whole counsel of God's Word be taught, believed and confess in its purity and entirety. A false teacher.


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