Rise: Bold Strategies to Transform Your Church – Cally Parkinson

Rise: Bold Strategies to Transform Your Church Cally Parkinson

QUICK HIT: Based on the REVEAL Spiritual Life Survey, Rise tells the stories of almost a thousand churches, dividing them into eight archetypes. It tells the good and the bad, the highs and the lows, gives insight and caution, and spurs individuals and churches on up the ranks.

I’m a pastor. And more than that, I’m a teacher. That means my #1 overall desire for my church is not people, programs, or money, though all of those things are wonderful. My primary desire for my church is spiritual maturity. I want my congregation to be the church, not come to church. I want less church programs because more congregants are taking personal responsibility. Honestly, I want a church that could run without me. Rise has given me the motivation and methodology to make it happen.

Based on the REVEAL Spiritual Life Survey, Rise tells the stories of almost a thousand churches, dividing them into eight archetypes. The honest reader will undoubtedly be able to place his or her own church somewhere within this scale. I love that this isn’t just some made-up scale of church health or vibrancy, but that it’s a scale built on real-life research-based evidence. It tells the good and the bad, the highs and the lows, gives insight and caution, and spurs individuals and churches on up the ranks.

  • The Troubled Church (14%)
    • People are spiritually immature and unhappy with the church and its senior pastor.
  • The Complacent Church (17%)
    • Faith is surprisingly underdeveloped since attenders are longtime churchgoers.
  • The Extroverted Church (9%)
    • Faith is underdeveloped but community service is embraced.
  • The Average Church (13%)
    • No spiritual measures deviate from the norm.
  • The Introverted Church (17%)
    • Faith is strong, but faith-based behaviors are lacking.
  • The Self-Motivated Church (10%)
    • Faith is strong across the board, yet people are unenthused about church.
  • The Energized Church (12%)
    • Faith is somewhat underdeveloped but growing, and people love the church.
  • The Vibrant Church (9%)
    • Faith is strong and mature but still growing, and people love the church.

These eight archetypes could be plotted on a quadrant where one axis is the church’s spirituality and the other axis is the church’s best practices. The introverted church is spiritually strong but doesn’t do a great job living out the Christian life in terms of showing that faith to the world. The complacent church is better-than-average with its best practices but is spiritually weak.

Now, with the bar set, Parkinson sets the data to its narrative and gives readers 18-20 pages per archetype to discuss actual, real-life churches at that particular level, what it was that put them there, and the methodology used to improve. Data is boring: show it to me in story. That’s exactly what Parkinson does, plunging readers into the stories of churches big and small, first-gen and historic, thriving and failing, all to ask the question: What is the story of your church?

Books like this aren’t supposed to be this fun. By putting the data into real-life context, Parkinson provides readers with the impetus for application in their own churches. Even if I wasn’t a church leader, I would find these case studies fascinating and compelling. Seriously, I am a reader of books and I’ve a bookshelf full of studies by Barna and the like. This one trumps them all.