Church in the Middle – Rolland Daniels

Church in the Middle - Rolland Daniels

QUICK HIT: In Church in the Middle, Rolland Daniels outlines a missional model for church, a model that focuses more on the church going out rather than getting people to come in.

The longer I spend in ministry, the more I crave books written by those who have been there before me, especially in the practical aspects of church-building. In Church in the Middle, Rolland Daniels outlines a missional model for church, a model that focuses more on the church going out rather than getting people to come in.

Daniels begins with the premise that the majority of churches are attractional, that is, they focus on getting more people in the church. It’s a numbers game. But culture at large is embracing “spirituality” without religion, that is, they want Jesus but not the church. So how do we reach them? We have to get outside the walls of the church.

Throughout the book, Daniels offers some practical examples for transforming your church into a missional congregation. He includes study questions, sample Congregational Covenants, and other practical helps. Perhaps the best resource is the six-step root cause analysis that can help you figure out how to overcome obstacles in your ministry.

Chief among Daniels’ principles is the need for the church to get involved with the community. Looking at the life of Jesus, he challenges churches to get out and engage with and serve those who are ostracized, minimalized, and criticized.

My primary criticism comes in the book’s formatting. The publicity materials call it a one-of-a-kind, full-color workbook that’s creatively designed, but all the design actually detracts from the bulk of the text. There are simply so many text blurbs and graphics and so on that they lose their power. Used properly, a text blurb highlights an important sound bite takeaway. If you do it every page, it’s just obnoxious. It was a good idea that somebody got carried away with.

That said, the teaching is solid, if not new. I would challenge Daniels’ statement that the majority of churches are “attractional,” as defined in his book (and I would also challenge his definition of “attractional.”). But with that said, I do believe that is a need to be more missional in our development of disciples who go out and make disciples. I am a fan of the missional church style, but have seen other books do it better.

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