Ed Stetzer has written a winner in Comeback Churches. Many “how to” books exist to direct pastors and churches how to grow. Stetzer has not written one of those, instead he has written a book that focuses on research of over 300 churches that were either plateaued or in decline and made a turn around. The most exciting news about the information contained in this book for the average pastor, is that the majority of the churches were small to medium sized churches.
The findings of Stetzer and Dodson’s research were, not surprisingly, biblical more than pragmatic. For instance, churches that grew were churches that gave a renewed emphasis to prayer, preaching, evangelism, and lay involvement. Pragmatic issues, such as marketing, were not absent from many of the Comeback Churches, but they did reflect the primary reasons for growth in the churches of various denominations included in this study.
One major concern I had with the book was the author’s statement, What expression of a New Testament Church would be most appropriate in this context? It is my hope that the intention of that question was to determine the worship style or structure of church, not to suggest that there are multiple expressions of the church in the New Testament. The New Testament is clear that the church in that time was defined by belief in Christ, Believer’s Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper.
Regardless of that one concern, I was benefitted greatly by reading this book.