The subtitle reveals the simple premise of the book: 15 tectonic shifts that transform churches, communities and the world. As expected, each chapter deals with one of the fifteen tectonic shifts. What are these tectonic shifts? In a word, these shifts interact with the concept of mission, missional living or the more technical term, missiology. It is the belief of the authors that most churches are unaware of these shifts and therefore, are less effective in reaching the world for Christ. So this book boldly seeks to inform a generation of church leaders through the experimental lens of Granger Community Church (a megachurch in Northern Indiana where the author, Rob Wegner, is one of the lead pastors).
It is not in the scope of this review to critically interact with each tectonic shift, but extensive comments on a few key shifts are necessary.
Let’s begin with the Shift #1: Saved souls to Saved wholes. The authors contend that many churches preach an incomplete gospel or maybe more specifically, only part of the grand story of salvation. These churches tend to focus on the life insurance aspect of the gospel (i.e. saved souls), rather than the salvific blessings which are intended for this life and the next (i.e. saved wholes). According to the authors, the sad result has been a response that is decisional and private, rather than transformational and public. In other words, what is often missing in the “saved souls” version is the emphasis on Lordship.
To the majority of the above paragraph, I say, “Amen”. Furthermore, I appreciate the authors beginning with the gospel. I agree with the statement found on page 40, “Every other missional move is contingent upon getting this one right”.
Yet I am still slightly uncomfortable with the distinction of “saved souls” to “saved wholes”. Scripturally, there is no theological distinction in justification between soul and whole. Justification by faith alone assumes trust, which assumes Lordship. When the soul is regenerated, the whole is also regenerated.
So though I like that the move is “catchy”, let us not become weary in pursuing theological “precision” as well.
My favorite chapter is Shift #2, From Missions to Mission. Though I am personally familiar with this shift, the basic graph on p. 49 says it all. The graph places the ministry of “missions” alongside arts, children, small groups, youth, etc. The problem? Missions is seen as a specialized category of ministry, rather than “THE MISSION” given to every Christian. In my opinion, this chapter alone is worth the price of the book.
Now this does not mean I embrace everything in chapter two. The formula espoused by the authors: Local church on mission + People of God on mission = Apostolic movement is again catchy, but invoking the word “apostolic” for anything other than the direct ministry of the 12 original apostles is unwise and hermeneutically cavalier. Post 1st century Christians are called disciples, followers and slaves of Jesus Christ, but never His apostles.
Another helpful element is that this book not only explains the “shifts” themselves, but also how to implement these movements into the life of the local church. The clearest example of this is found in chapter 7, From Transactional to Transformational Partnerships. The authors explain,
“The old model sent out organizations to do the work of mission, leaving the local church behind to provide money. The local church was involved, but not directly” (p. 168).
So the issue the authors wrestle with is, “How do we get local churches involved directly and still use these essential partnerships?”
With the use of illustrations, graphs and the experimental history of Granger, the reader is given a roadmap to build local church involvement and partnership, which functions as a wonderful resource, especially for those leaders in established churches.
Other than the occasional examples of theological ambiguity, my only other criticism is this: 15 missional moves was too much. I think the maxim “Less is more” applies here. Limiting and then expanding 5-7 moves would have been more useful in my opinion.
Would I recommend this book? Yes, but only to mature pastor or church leader. The authors are unabashedly seeker-driven (attractional, in their words) and their philosophy is woven through this book. Yet there are also profound insights regarding missiology that if absorbed correctly could benefit both the church leader and the church itself.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Cross Focused Reviews as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."