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on 11 June 2013
I bought this book on Monday morning, on the recommendation of a Catholic Priest in the Archdiocese of Cardiff. I read it by tea-time! Whilst it deals with a large Catholic parish in America, it provides sound advice and practical steps which can help re-vitalise any parish anywhere. I plan to get my friends, plus the Parish Advisory Council and the Parish Priest to read it. Highly recommended if you want to rebuild your own dying parish in the West, whatever its size!
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on 6 August 2013
This is a super book.... hard to leave down. I yearn to see a Christ Centred scripturally based move of God's spirit in the Catholic Church. This book testifies to how this happened in one Parish in the US. Would highly recommend to all Priests and those who car passionately for revival
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on 9 January 2014
I am rereading this book as it was so bad (you can learn so much about the good from what's bad), and I have realised the analysis of the problems is spot on, but as soon as the turn to solutions, they show they don't understand the first thing about the importance of architecture, scripture, ecclesiology, the Eucharist, and Holy Orders. In fact, they know hardly anything Catholic, and so the book is written as if they're just Protestants interested in church growth who are sympathetic to some of the 'useful' ideas Catholicism might bring to the table.

HOWEVER: the biggest problem with the book is their generalised Parishioner they call "Tim" (from Timonium, in Baltimore where the church is based).

The argument of the book is that this 'Tim', who is the average, de-churched secularist in the parish, has to be pandered to if we are to get him into church. Except 'Tim', is like an obese kid who wont eat his vegetables or do anything good for him unless he's cajouled with some kind of reward, and it doesn't involve commitment, discipline, or exercise. So, of course, 'Tim' will not like Real Catholicism, so their solution is to make their 'church' (what they call 'environment') 'seeker friendly' (remove the bits of Catholicism 'Tim' won't like). In short: indulge 'Tim'.

In essence, as it relies on ideas from Protestant Evanglicalism, what the authors advocate is what Protestantism ends up doing: being completely disingenuous and ending up a 'bait-and-switch' scam in order to get them in - except they've jettisoned the guts of Catholicism in their quest for punters, and left an empty and pathetic shell of the real thing.

If you read the book, they express one aim, yet clearly want another. Their aim in the book is to run roughshod over the 'old-school' (Modernist) Catholic consumers (who were the 'Tims' of the 60s and 70s), and simply replace them with new 'Tim' (Post-Modernist) consumers (who they presume won't be problem-ridden complainers like the old ones). But, before they know it, 'Tim' consumers will prove themselves to be as intransigent as the old-school consumers, unless they constantly keep reinventing themselves, and thereby create a constantly changing 'user-base' AKA congregation. One day, they'll have to introduce 'Lap-dancers for Jesus' in order to attract 'Tim'. That is, have a programme which, by its nature, has to be alienating a percentage of the congregation, in a desperate attempt to attract the new: a revolving door church. They will find themselves, as they have always done, running to stand still as their fundamental operating paradigm is flawed.

Lastly, the book is filled to the brim with non-sequiturs and question-begging statements put across in an authoritative manner, without any justification apart from the fact one of the people - the 'authorities', in most cases Protestant Pastors they had read - had said it.
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on 23 June 2014
Motivating book that is honestly written, well worth reading if you want to help waken up a sleepy parish
Quite an American approach but some very useful ideas for here in the uk
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on 22 August 2015
Interesting but doubt that the principles will translate that well to other environments.
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on 26 March 2013
I bought this book after reading the first chapter, which is made available free on line as a hook to get you to buy the book. There's a lot of clever marketing around this book!

The first chapter describes my own church "Our parish was dying...people...where dying or moving away and no one was replacing them". That sounded extremely familiar to me! However, as you get into the book, you find that they manage to get a crowd of 600 people along to a meeting to discuss the church's future. That's not a dying church! 600 people who are interested in what the church is doing. That's a thriving church! If you can't do something with that then you should resign your post. You can't call that a dying church.
What follows is a description of how they turned a Roman Catholic parish church into some kind of mega-church along the Hillsong or Willow Creek lines. That's a quite interesting idea; but if you're interested in how to get 100 souls in an English parish to pull together and look to the future, it's ultimately just a pipe-dream and an irrelevance.

If you want to read a church success story to give you some hope then this is an interesting, well written and well marketed book. If you are concerned about your dying church and want some practical advice on how to turn it around, this book is more likely to inspire despair than hope. Also be aware that their ideas are inspired by Rick Warren, who is a controversial voice in the evangelical church.
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on 24 December 2014
I have been a professional youth minister in the church for fifteen years now and I haven't read a better book than this about the problems in the church,and the way through them. I am constantly telling people that the solutions and answers are there to be found,if we just commit ourselves to looking. Put simply, this is one of the best places to look.

Read this book. Them buy a copy for your pastor!
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on 16 January 2015
good book
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on 1 September 2014
Very good
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