The Barnabas Ministry
Book Review

The Habits of Highly Effective Churches
By George Barna (Regal/Gospel Light, Ventura, CA. 1999).

George Barna has been doing statistical research on Protestant church practices and beliefs for more than a decade, and this book reflects the results of his research on current trends in churches. He talks about how churches are being more and more creative in approaching ministry in everything from solving problems to worship services. Key ideas discussed include utilizing human resources more effectively, distinguishing between leadership and preaching (and empowering leaders, both of the staff and lay variety), and the place of small groups and the family in the ministry of the church.

While I found the entire book fascinating, I especially liked his presentations on evangelism. A short sample:

Perhaps the secret to removing unnecessary pressure in evangelism, though, is in positioning evangelism positively. Highly effective churches portray evangelism as an act of love for other people, rather than as a means of proving one's self-worth through productive witnessing. When evangelism is a matter of obligation, it then becomes a performance whose quality determines one's value. When sharing our faith in Christ becomes a matter of the heart, however, our motivations are pure and both our strategies and persistence are more likely to produce positive outcomes" (p. 116-117).
While the discussion of evangelism alone justifies checking out the book, reading only that chapter would lead to the reader missing Barna's discussion of strategic ministry planning, a topic that undergirds the whole approach in every area. Barna expresses his information sensitively, humbly and clearly. Anyone reading this book can't help but be stimulated by it.

Copyright © 2001 John Engler. All rights reserved.

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