ChurchMorph (Allelon Missional Series): How Megatrends Are Reshaping Christian Communities

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Baker Publishing Group, Aug 1, 2009 - Religion
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It is estimated that 80 percent of churches are either stalled or in decline. In ChurchMorph, internationally known church observer Eddie Gibbs goes beyond an analysis of causes to show how many churches and faith communities are actually breaking the downward trend. He expertly maps current converging church movements--emerging and missional churches, mainline renewal groups, megachurches, urban mission, new monasticism, alternative worship, and expanding networks--and offers a positive assessment of the reshaping of today's church. The core of the book identifies trends and movements that provide signs of the kingdom and reveals how different faith communities are working out what it means to be "church" in a changing world.

This stimulating and encouraging book will appeal to pastors, church leaders, and students interested in ministry, the emerging church, Christianity and culture, and mission.

The morphing of the church relates to the church transitioning to a new identity as a missional presence in the West. There is a growing realization among leaders committed to mission that the challenge will not be adequately met by adding new programs to ensure the local church, or a denomination's, institutional survival. Such leaders are talking about an unfettered re-imagining of the church, resulting in a comprehensive change in its self-understanding and its reconfiguration.

Frequently the term "deconstruction" is used by radical voices within the emergent church. But this technical term is often misunderstood, being perceived as too threatening and confrontational. It is heard to imply demolition and destruction, which is not what is intended. Deconstruction refers to a particular method of literary criticism that seeks to get behind the text to reveal the embedded assumptions. Among Emerging Church leaders, "deconstruction" signifies, not destruction, but a breakthrough. It means to undo or take apart in order to arrive at a deeper understanding, allowing for a creative re-reading. However, in order to avoid the negative implications of the term, and its highly technical explanation, I prefer to speak of the re-imagining of the church, and of the transformation process as the morphing of the church.

Wikipedia defines morphing as a special effect in motion pictures and animations that changes (or morphs) one image into another through a seamless transition. The term has a much more ancient usage however. It is derived from the Greek word morphe, which appears in the New Testament in a significant context.

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About the author (2009)

Eddie Gibbs (DMin, Fuller Theological Seminary) is director of the Institute for the Study of Emerging Churches at the Brehm Center for Worship, Theology, and the Arts and a senior professor in the School of Intercultural Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He is the author of numerous books, including Emerging Churches and the critically acclaimed ChurchNext (winner of a Christianity Today book award), and is cohost of the popular Church Then and Now Web site.

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