Growing God’s Church: How People Are Actually Coming to Faith Today by Gary L. McIntosh will be written off by some as a throwback to the nineties, the days when the Church Growth Movement ruled discussions among evangelicals. That conclusion is unfortunate. Church growth experts still have much to teach us.
The first part of the book reviews the biblical basis for evangelism. McIntosh reminds us that presentation of the gospel should call for a verdict, a decision to accept or to reject the gospel. Recently, evangelicals have lost this emphasis. The conversion of individuals is lost under the concept of being missional. McIntosh does not say we must choose one over the other but encourages us to call for a verdict and to disciple believers to be missional.
The research is useful (though dated–more on that later). Most useful is the breakdown of results by context and age of those who responded. McIntosh also includes data related to responses from transfer growth and new converts. The separation of the data allows church leaders to apply the findings to their context.
One weakness is that the data dates to 2010. Six years may not seem like long, but we live in very volatile and changing society. The church is dealing with shifts and changes in society that were not on the horizon in 2010. Nevertheless, it is a helpful update to similar data collected in the nineties.
Also, the charts that accompany the data in the second part of the book are nearly unreadable. The greyscale printing is hard to distinguish, and there are not clear markings on the charts.
I would recommend this book to pastors and those responsible for outreach and assimilation local churches. Church planters would also benefit from its insights. Church leaders should still listen to the findings of church growth experts such a Gary L. McIntosh. I appreciate his consideration of verdict as a part of evangelism. However, I cannot rate the book as high as I might otherwise due to the poor visuals in the second part.
(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. I was under no obligation to write a positive review.)