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Essential Church?: Reclaiming a Generation of Dropouts

By Thom Rainer (Author), Sam Rainer (Author) & Erik Synnestvetd (Read by)
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Item description for Essential Church?: Reclaiming a Generation of Dropouts by Thom Rainer, Sam Rainer & Erik Synnestvetd...

Why do so many young adults (18 to 22) leave the church, and what will it take to bring them back? This important question is examined and duly answered in Essential Church?, a follow-up to Thom S. Rainer's best-selling Simple Church cowritten this time with his son, research expert Sam Rainer.The book is based on a study of one-thousand so-called "church dropouts" who were interviewed about why they left. Their answers are quite surprising, having less to do with "losing their religion" and more about the desire for a community that isn't made stale by simply maintaining the status quo.In turn, the Rainers offer churches four concrete solutions toward making their worship community an essential part these young people's lives again: Simplify - develop a clear structure and process for making disciples.Deepen - provide strong biblical teaching and preaching.Expect - let members know the need for commitment to the congregation.Multiply - emphasize evangelism, outward focus, and starting new churches.

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Why do so many young adults (18 to 22) leave the church, and what will it take to bring them back? This important question is examined and duly answered in Essential Church?, a follow-up to Thom S. Rainer's best-selling Simple Church cowritten this time with his son, research expert Sam Rainer. The book is based on a study of one-thousand so-called church dropouts who were interviewed about why they left. Their answers are quite surprising, having less to do with losing their religion and more about the desire for a community that isn't made stale by simply maintaining the status quo. In turn, the Rainers offer churches four concrete solutions toward making their worship community an essential part these young people's lives again: Simplify - develop a clear structure and process for making disciples. Deepen - provide strong biblical teaching and preaching. Expect - let members know the need for commitment to the congregation. Multiply - emphasize evangelism, outward focus, a

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Item Specifications...

Studio: christianaudio Seed
Running Time: 420.00 minutes
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 6.18" Width: 5.12" Height: 0.76"
Weight:   0.34 lbs.
Binding  CD
Release Date   Sep 1, 2008
Publisher   Christianaudio Seed
ISBN  1596446374  
ISBN13  9781596446373  

Availability  0 units.

More About Thom Rainer, Sam Rainer & Erik Synnestvetd

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Thom S. Rainer, Ph.D., is president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, one of the largest Christian resource companies in the world. He has consulted with more than five hundred churches, served as pastor in four churches and interim pastor in seven churches, spoken in hundreds of venues, and authored sixteen previous books. Rainer and his wife, Nellie Jo, have three grown sons and live in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Reviews - What do customers think about Essential Church?: Reclaiming a Generation of Dropouts?

Making your church more essential  Dec 5, 2009
More than two thirds of church-going young adults in the US drop out between the ages of 18 and 22, according to Thom and Sam Rainer in this book. In the course of extensive research amongst young church drop-outs numerous reasons for leaving church were given, but the common theme was that these young people just did not feel that church was an essential part of their lives.

The book discusses the results of the research in some detail, and then attempts to offer a four-step prescription to help churches "close the back door" to stop young people leaving. The first step is to simplify the church's structure by making it very clear what the church stands for and how people are invited to participate. The second step is to deepen the church's impact by providing solid biblical teaching. The third step is to have high expectations of people, and the fourth step is to multiply by placing emphasis on evangelism.

I have read too many of George Barna's books to place too much faith in the book-based-on-a-survey genre, but this book is one of the better ones of the genre. The problem outlined in the first part of the book is based on solid evidence, whereas the prescriptive solution is based on the author's observations and opinions rather than solid evidence, but nonetheless in my opinion the prescription is appropriate. The problem addressed is a critical one, so I recommend this book to church leaders.
Essential Church? reclaiming a generation of dropouts  May 10, 2009
This book is just as factual and real for churches today, as the first book which I read called "High Expectations". Christian churches need to put into practice the teachings of Christ and also take a realistic look at the reasons which Mr. Rainer points out in this book. He not only shows us why we are loosing generations of believers, but how to get them back into church. He explains very plainly, how to shut the back door and NOT the front door.

I would recommend this book and "High Expectations" to any church member, but especially to the Pastor and/or Sunday School Director, as proof that many churches are not doing ministry very well in today's society. Many of them have large membership rolls (for statistics), but only a fraction of those members ever warm a pew on any given church day. Mr. Rainer gives us ways to correct this situtation, which allows us to have a better and more effective church for Christ.

p.s. I had to read Mr. Rainers book "High Expectations" for a class at a Bible Institute where I attend. It spoke so true to me that I purchased additional copies for my Pastor and Sunday School Director. We are now applying principles from the book within our church and growth is taking place. This book "Essential Church", adds more fuel to the spark which was ignited by reading Mr. Rainers solutions in "High Expectations".
Painful Must-Read  May 10, 2009
Rainer and his son wrote Essential Church: Reclaiming a Generation of Dropouts based on a nationwide survey of those leaving the church in recent years. Their findings are interesting and provocative.

"The American church is dying. Conversions are declining in almost every denomination. Even in some of the more relatively healthy denominations, conversions to Christianity have stagnated..." Page 8

"Perhaps most startling is the gravity of how many exit the church and the pace at which this exodus is occurring. Each generation that passes loses more than the previous generation. Shock does not begin to describe how we felt after reading the research results. The church is losing the generational battle. Not only are we losing our nation to the ways of the world, but we are not winning our own children in Christian families. Multitudes are dropping out of the church." Page 14

They stress like others, that the loss is greatest among the young:

"The average church is losing the young generation, and those young adults are not returning." Page 8
"More than two-thirds of young churchgoing adults in America drop out of church between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two." Page 75

And their explanation makes sense, and squares with what I've seen:

"The most glaring issue of estrangement for eighteen- to twenty-two-year-olds is the interminable gap between their personal beliefs and their church's stated beliefs. ... Only 53 percent of all young adult churchgoers state that they are in line with the beliefs of their church. To be blunt, God has converted our children, but we have failed to disciple them." Page 30

They document not only quantitative decline, but decline in quality:

"One survey states that only half of churches feel that they do a good job of engaging the community and making others feel welcome. Additionally, only 40 percent of these churches feel that they have any real impact on the community of the world. This survey was taken among people within the church. So 60 percent of the people in our churches do not believe they are making an impact on their community." Page 55 56

They also confirm other sources indicating that the dramatic increase in busyness among Americans makes church involvement less likely:

"We're busy people. We bolt about our daily routine in a tornado of rapid activity. Time is a precious commodity and we fill our time with as many activities as possible. We cram one-hour tasks into fifteen minutes, and then we speed twenty-five miles over the speed limit to make up for the rest. We overcommit. We underplan. We procrastinate. We're perpetually late. Then we complain about little sleep and no time for exercise or leisure. Americans spend their time like their money, using as much as they have (if not more) and saving none." Page 74

"Through our research we were not surprised to learn that new and busy schedules often moved the church to a lower priority among the dechurched." Page 75

I was interested by their finding that those leaving don't feel bitter about the church, and still consider themselves Christians. They are leaving because they don't see any reason to continue.

"Particularly with the younger generation, church is another time slot to fill. It is a check box on the weekly to-do list. The churches of the dropouts were not a place where they wanted to spend free time. It was the opposite. Church was just another time waster for them... droves of students are divorcing the church, and they do not cite irreconcilable differences. They do not leave mad. For many, no one compelling factor is pushing them away. They just want a little time off. They want their space. When they leave the church, there is no void. A gaping hole doesn't form when they exit. They leave quietly, and the church continues on as usual." Page 75, 76

Apparently, a big part of this failure has to do with the lack of interest in college students on the part of churches.

"Most churches do not have a college and career ministry for young adults between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two. And the reason is not because these churches are located outside of college towns. Ten percent of the population in the United States is between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four. That's more than thirty million student-age people!" Page 81

To me, this is incomprehensible, although I've seen this myself. We find most churches have little or nothing going on with college students--the most promising age range for raising up workers who serve God long-term. I think it goes to show that churches are more interested in adults who pay the bills than in raising up workers.

This is a good book. Recomended.

Dennis McCallum, author Satan and His Kingdom: What the Bible Says and How It Matters to You and Organic Disciplemaking: Mentoring Others Into Spiritual Maturity And Leadership
Recapturing a Lost Generation  Mar 26, 2009
In 2001, with my first year of Romanian mission work behind me, I returned home for the summer to discover that my youth group friends had disappeared from the church. Only a small handful of the group was now in the college class. The more I tried to connect with old friends, the more I realized that though many were still in town, most of them were no longer in church anywhere.

Apparently, the problem I noticed in 2001 has only grown. Many churches today are waking up to the fact that a generation of young people is missing from the church. The twenty-something crowd has largely disappeared, and most churches know neither why they have left nor what they can do to get them back.

The statistics show that two-thirds of churchgoing young adults drop out between the ages of 18 and 22. These numbers serve as an indictment against the methods and training common to most children and youth ministries. The numbers also indicate an abdication of responsibility on the part of parents to raise their children to value the church.

This sad phenomenon is described in detail in Essential Church?: Reclaiming a Generation of Dropouts(Broadman & Holman, 2008) by Thom and Sam Rainer. In Essential Church, the Rainers (father and son) tell us the reasons young people give for leaving church and what the church must do to win them back.

In the first part of the book, the authors show why young people leave what they call the "nonessential church." In the second part, they show four qualities present in churches that retain their young people through the college years.

I appreciate the way in which Thom and Sam Rainer can share stastics and give advice without emphasizing formulas over substance. Again and again, they say that theirs is not a formula for "success." Instead, they are seeking to steer churches back to orthodox practice and teaching.

Here is what they've discovered: churches that retain young people tend to have simple structures, deep and challenging biblical teaching, an attitude that expects commitment from young people, and an outward focus that leads to evangelism and missions. In other words, churches that function biblically do better at keeping their members. (Surprise!)

Essential Church will encourage healthy conversation about what it means for the church to be the church. It represents a call for the church to return to Scripture rather than outdated methods and formulas for success. And maybe a book like this can help churches stop the mass exodus of young people from their congregation.
good enough  Feb 12, 2009
I have been a pastor for 13 years and Thom Rainer's books "Simple Church," "Surprising Insights from the Unchurched," and "Effective Evangelistic Churches," are MUST READ books. I'm afraid that this book is not a MUST READ book. The first half of the book is mostly a stereotypical critique of the church. The second half is mostly a summary of Thom Rainer's previous books. The book is OK, but there isn't much that is new. It's not great, but it's good enough.

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