E-Book Review: "The New Traditional Church" (Tony Morgan)
In our ever mobile and changing culture, I've found such richness in the way that e-books are being published and promoted. I came across two that were intriguing so I thought I'd review them for you. These two books are written by Tony Morgan, an author, pastor and consultant who wrote one of my favorite books Killing Cockroaches that helped me figure out how to move toward the most important things in my own leadership and sphere and influence and away from the meaningless wastes of time that come up so often.
In the e-book "The New Traditional Church", Tony puts some thoughts on paper that had been swirling unformed in my head. I have the great comfort of saying that since he has already written the book, but anyone who looks at the church and how it changes over time will see some of their reflections in Tony's work.
In four categories, "Discipleship", "Web Strategy", "Music", and "Community" Tony takes on the the idea that what is standard practice for many contemporary churches built on a particular church growth model has now become "Traditional" in the sense that it's protected as sacred and somewhat inflexible.
Each section is brief but full, and the thoughts on music are perhaps the most insightful and thought provoking. The idea that many churches are only reaching a small segment of their people because the style of music is limited to one particular ethnic group or preference. He says,
...we keep playing and singing what we know, but we keep praying we'll reach different people.
Also the discussion of Web Strategy strikes at the core of what, in my mind confines a church into more traditional or antiquated ways of thinking. The management of information and communication streams are probably the single most limiting factors of the church today. Much is being done with communication, but I'm struggling to see many churches doing it well. Perhaps you can comment below and provide examples otherwise. I would love that. I agree with Tony's assessment that most churches have simply taken the bulletin or newsletter and put it online, instead of utilizing the connectivity and instructional capacity of the web and social media. I'm still chewing on that one.
If I have any challenges for Tony's book, it's that the length is prohibitive for the kind of discussion he introduces. The good news is that the point of the book is discussion and not full coverage of any one idea. He gives enough to get a leadership team talking but not so much that they feel like they know what to do. The other challenge would be that the book seems to be geared toward larger more progressive churches (1000+) and having formerly pastored in a smaller context, I wonder if this book would help leaders of those churches progress in seeking new pathways of ministry and structure. Admittedly, this could have been an impression I had simply because of my background and not anything Tony loaded into the book.
You can download the book from Tony's website. I highly recommend getting your team around a table and talking through this quick read as a retreat time or a refocusing time during the summer.
Up next: "Developing a Theology of Leadership".