Read Who Stole My Church: What to Do When the Church You Love Tries to Enter the 21st Century by Gordon MacDonald Online


A challenging, innovative approach to a delicate subject. It's sure to benefit church leaders and members of all ages who dream of a "reinvented" church. --Publishers Weekly Has your church been stolen out from under you? A storm hits a small New England town late one evening, but the pelting rain can't keep a small group of church members from gathering to discuss issuesA challenging, innovative approach to a delicate subject. It's sure to benefit church leaders and members of all ages who dream of a "reinvented" church. --Publishers Weekly Has your church been stolen out from under you?A storm hits a small New England town late one evening, but the pelting rain can't keep a small group of church members from gathering to discuss issues that lately have been brewing beneath the surface of their congregation. They could see their church was changing. The choir had been replaced by a fl ashy "praise band." The youth no longer dressed in their "Sunday best." The beautiful pipe organ sat unused. How will this group overcome a deepening rift in their fellowship and nourish the relationship between the young and old? Can their church survive or even thrive?Who Stole My Church? is a fictional story that tells the all too real tale of many church communities today. In this book you can walk alongside an imaginary community, led by real life pastor Gordon MacDonald and his wife, Gail, and discover how to meet the needs of all believers without abandoning the dreams and desires of any....

Title : Who Stole My Church: What to Do When the Church You Love Tries to Enter the 21st Century
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781418536664
Format Type : ebook
Number of Pages : 272 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Who Stole My Church: What to Do When the Church You Love Tries to Enter the 21st Century Reviews

  • Andy
    2019-01-31 15:19

    currently reading this with a group from my congregation who are asking this very question.UPDATE: The good news: this book might be pragmatically useful in some congregational settings, especially dealing with change. Introduces basic theories of organizational change in a way that is accessible to people who have never thought of it before. The bad news: is it ever irritating and agonizing to read. It somehow manages to be preachy, boring, overstated, and unrealistic all at the same time.

  • Melissa
    2019-02-15 16:26

    This was a very well written book about the subject of church change. My church is going through many transitions right now, and I thought this book was appropriate.What made it readable was that it isn't straight, dry non-fiction. This is non-fiction, presented in a fictionalized format. The author places himself as pastor of a church in New England, and his church is going through some transitions which aren't sitting well with the older members of the church who feel like their church is being stolen from them. The book takes them through the reasons for change and the need for change to keep the church viable.Really excellent book, I highly recommend it for all pastors and church leaders, but also for those who might be struggling on either end (either resisting change or wondering why people are so reisitant)with church changes.

  • Kelly Ballard
    2019-01-22 12:34

    Church is not easy.

  • Pamela
    2019-01-25 17:19

    Quite a contrived "novel" about a post-modernized pastor who collects a group of conservative church members into a committee whereby he can convince them to think his way...for the good of the church, of course. The overall concept of change is addressed; change will happen, but the way it happens defines the character of the church (it's people and leadership). This story left me sorrowful that so many people will read this and use it as a model when I found it lacking grace and the love the Christians are called to. When the church decides to function by business models, it suggests that the purpose and life-source of the church are in question.

  • Dennis Henn
    2019-02-01 16:21

    My only gripe in this novel was that the pastor was always right in regard to the proposed changes.Fifteen church mainstays gather to discuss their fear and frustration with the direction of their church. Churches want to attract new people but rarely do churches want to change. They hire pastors and assign them the task of attracting young people but nobody knows what to do if young people actually arrive. MacDonald sets up an interesting discussion, sometimes forced, about music preferences, technology, church names, and evangelism. Easy to understand and a quick read.

  • Dave Weiss
    2019-02-10 11:36

    I read this book last year, when I found it at a local discount store, I decided to read it again. This might be the best book I have read on helping a church through change. Written as a fiction story, MacDonald touches on so many important factors in bringing our churches into the 21st Century. I love this book and recommend it to anyone, but especially to those of us called by God to lead His Church.

  • Sam
    2019-01-22 13:13

    This is a great book to read for those wondering what impact their church is making in today's world. Gordon McDonald offers great insights as he tells the story of a church of over 100 yrs of history transforms toward a church that can impact the people of today. A must read for those who love their churches.

  • Nick Jones
    2019-02-15 13:19

    I give it 2 stars because it provokes good discussion and asks needed questions, but I do not agree with MacDonald's conclusions. The narrative form is helpful in getting his points across in an easy-to-read manner, but does not prove those points conveniently. Perhaps this is because the story itself is largely unbelievable. Everything wraps up too neatly (especially for a traditional New England church, which I have pastored). The one character who disagrees most with the pastor ends up being an all-around bad guy who conveniently moves away after leaving the church. The other main characters all get on board and live happily ever after. The "shocking" unbeliever who enters the story is strangely welcomed by the church and gets saved. Although the author doesn't say this explicitly, the underlying message of the narrative is: make these attitude changes and your church will grow. It is simply not realistic.

  • Greg Wilson
    2019-02-01 09:22

    I have had an on and off again relationship with Gordon MacDonald. As a young associate pastor in the mid-eighties I read his best seller “Ordering Your Private World” (which is still in print). A couple of years later I read his book “Renewing Your Spiritual Passion.” Although it was twenty-five years ago, I kind of remember spiritually profiting somewhat from those books, although if I were to re-read them now, I might have a different opinion. However, an admission of an extra-marital affair that he was involved in while writing those books kind of soured me on him. I did not read his “Rebuilding Your Broken World” or anything else by him (although that may be more of a reflection upon my former phariseeism than his restoration.)Gordon MacDonald has been a pastor and author for more than forty years. He has also been the president of a couple of well-known parachurch organizations and is currently an editor at large for the magazine Leadership. He and his wife of almost fifty years live in New Hampshire. This book first caught my eye a couple of years ago when it came out in hardback. I skimmed it a couple times at the bookstore, but didn’t want to pay the hardback price. However, when I eventually saw it in paperback, I plopped down my money. I am glad I did.The subtitle of this book is “What to Do When the Church You Love Tries to Enter the 21st Century.” It is a fictional tale told in the first person. MacDonald writes as a pastor of an imaginary New England congregation of a few hundred people. The church has had a proud history and is part of a (unnamed) denomination. The sixtyish “Pastor MacDonald” has been at the church for several years and has overseen the last of a series of changes designed to attract younger people. Not everyone is on board with these changes, especially the aging boomer generation. Plus, there are more changes on the horizon. A proposed $150,000 initiative to upgrade the sanctuary technology did not get the expected congregational approval. This has brought the change issues to a head. Also being debated is a proposed name change of the church.The story revolves around a series of Tuesday evening meetings that Pastor MacDonald has with a group of long time church members in their fifties and sixties. This group shares a common church experience. They remember the same hymns, the evening services, prophecy conferences and “revivals”. They miss the choir and the organ, even the “singing Christmas tree”. They don’t connect with contemporary Christian music and casual church attire. Deep down, Pastor MacDonald feels their pain. Each chapter details successive meetings of this group of believers, which Pastor MacDonald has dubbed the “Discovery Group.” Before each chapter, he gives us (“from his notes”) a brief biography sketch of different attendees. Some are retired, some self-employed, some widowed, some married, some well off, some not so much. Although one seemingly turns out to be a non-believer, the others are serious about their faith and honor the scriptures.I especially enjoyed the group’s discussion of the hymns, particularly the hymns of Isaac Watts. Until the change that Isaac Watts eventually brought to the church, congregational singing was confined to singing the psalms. This singing was “in a more-or-less monotone form with no instrumental accompaniment, because instruments in a church were considered worldly” (p. 96). Young Isaac Watts found this style of singing stifling. When he complained to his father, who happened to be the pastor, his father, rather than argue, wisely suggested that Watts write some of his own music. What if his father had responded negatively? What if Watts had taken his talents elsewhere, outside the church? What if he had never written, “When I survey the Wondrous Cross” or “I sing the Mighty Power of God”? “What we have in this little story is an example of the way an older generation needs to respond to the younger generation when it’s time for a change” (p. 96). Isaac Watts’ hymns were the contemporary Christian music of the day. “I’m going to guess that, if Isaac Watts were alive today, he’d be among the very first to say ‘My songs have had a good long shelf life, but now it’s time for some new writers and new music.’ I don’t think he’d see things the way some of us see them” (p. 97).As Pastor MacDonald gently guides the group into critical thinking about the issues, he is really helping the readers. I couldn’t help but see myself sitting in the group. I have also felt their pain. Though this book is not an in-depth Bible study, the real MacDonald does use the Bible occasionally to bring the light of scripture to the issues. He also gives several good history lessons. I found both approaches to be beneficial, as did his fictional discovery group. This is an entertaining book, which makes it a pretty easy read. If you are over fifty and you have been in church most of your life, you ought to read this book. Discussion questions for each chapter are provided at the end of the book. You may not agree with all the group’s discoveries, but it will help you see the other side of the issue.

  • Pat
    2019-01-30 17:22

    Rarely do I give 5 stars to a book, but this one was very well-written and on point. As I read it, I thought the author had been a fly on the wall in the church that I attend. However, his accuracy and clarity are due to his 40+ years in ministry and the predictability of human nature. Written in the style of fiction, Gordon MacDonald writes of a church in which some of the older members feel as though their church has been stolen (hence the title of the book) as they "relinquished control and influence to others younger than they are" (p. ix). In the book, MacDonald's primary concern is, "how do people face change when it threatens their comfort zone?" (p. x). Several topics are dealt with, the primary one being worship, but other sources of contention in "a growing number of congregational 'wars' [include:] replacing pews in the sanctuary with individual chairs, placing coffee kiosks in the church lobby, relaxing membership requirements for involvement in certain church programs, or--this used to be a big one--abandoning the midweek prayer service" (p. xvii). Commonly heard comments can include, "This new music...this new kind of preaching--it looks like a slippery slope toward liberalism...or shallowness...entertainment" (p. xvii). As MacDonald's character in the story brought a group of older members together to meet to discuss changes in the church, one member early on accurately describes what happens to many people: "Of course it's God's church just as the man said. But it's something that's easy to forget. I mean, you put a lot of work into a give're there every time the doors are opened, and the next thing you know, you're thinking the church is more yours than God's" (p. 18). Another member admitted that she never really thought about the fact that church does in fact belong to God and maybe, just maybe, God is the one doing the changing. "He's stealing it back because we haven't been doing a real good job with it. So I think we need to keep on talking together and asking if God isn't dealing with us at heart levels we've forgotten about" (p. 20). As the story proceeds, MacDonald's character continues meeting with this group and we the reader are privy to their conversations and revelations as MacDonald shows them through scripture how the early church endured much change. This change continued into the modern era with people like Martin Luther, St. Patrick, John Wesley, etc. As the weeks roll on this fictional group meets with young people in the church who lead worship, they have an encounter with one member's nephew who is clearly an outsider and deal with other changes in the church, all of which contribute to some healthy outcomes.

  • Sagely
    2019-02-16 17:35

    Not what I expected.I thought WSMC would be another pop take on either disappearing young adults or generational conflict, full of charts and graphs and catchphrases. And while these all do show up in the book from time to time, it's a lot more than a "What to do" guide (deceiving subtitle).For starters, it's fiction! Remember Brian McLaren's A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey? Same genre. Less philosophy, more evangelicalisms, but same reading material.Didactic fiction can be very, very bad. Take for instance another book I've stumbled on, Look Back, Leap Forward: Building Your Church on the Values of the Past. The writing in it is abysmal--almost too bad to keep reading. The characters in didactic fiction sometimes speak with all the personality of a screechy chalkboard.But WSMC isn't a bad read. MacDonald will never win awards as a novelist, but he's up there with McLaren for readability. The story's at least engaging, and the characters usually are believable.But the content of WSMC also comes out swinging. While staying solidly on Evangelical turf, MacDonald pushes here and there. Mostly he pushes at the way we've come to do church, the way we think it should be done, the way we fight for it to continue to be done. I don't know if I agree with all the strategies his eponymous character presents, but they're at least good for starting a conversation.I'll recommend this book to members of my church leadership. It's very good fuel for conversation.

  • Janice Garey
    2019-02-07 17:17

    Review Title: Resurrecting a Church (review of Who Stole My Church? by Gordon MacDonald)Reviewer: Janice S. Garey***** 5 StarsThis book presents the story of a church in decline and explains how it got to that point without placing blame upon individuals within the church. That alone makes this book valuable as a peace promoting tool for adult church members to read and consider. It reaches into what often becomes a briar patch of thorns in the declining church and rescues various people in leadership positions from people sticking them with all the blame. I really appreciated that aspect of this book most of all.The value of a church consultant shines in this story. Someone from outside can analyze and get things restarted on the true foundation once the no longer working programs are dismantled. The church in this story would have totally been gone in two years if changes were not made.This has been a great book for my husband and me to read aloud. It resonates with the truth about declining churches that we have seen during our past thirty years of church involvement in an urban environment. I highly recommend this book for people in urban areas, in large city or smaller city churches especially. Rural area churches may not be affected in the same manner as larger population areas in regards to why the church declines.I received this book in ebook format free of cost through in exchange for an honest review. I am pleased to be able to highly recommend it to adult members of churches.

  • Ruthmgon
    2019-01-24 10:31

    This was a reading assignment for the whole church because our church is searching for two new was just okay...I enjoyed about 5 chapters of this very much. While I think it will serve the purpose of giving people a different way to view change....or the purpose of getting buried thoughts out in to the open to deal with as a congregation, I felt sorry for the beleagard elders of the church. I agreed with the older group in the book most of the time, but then I am sensitive to change rather than invigorated. The elders in the book seemed to really do a 180 in their thinking and eventually really welcomed all types of ideas. I did get a little tired of always being in and around the "Discovery group"...--the older generation of the church---and thought that there was too little focus on the other groups that made up the generations of the church. Therefore the focus was not very balanced. What kinds of things should the younger group be grasping to comprehend? Why is the focus always on the younger group? At times the dialogue was too detailed and drawn out to feel like real conversations, and at other times I could not believe that the pastor in the story, or anyone would actually talk that much or so much like an encyclopedia. The best parts of the novel were when people got more intimate with what they shared. Unfortunately that is not until halfway or more through the book. This is a book created to generate conversation.

  • Jim
    2019-01-22 15:37

    The introduction of this book reads, "Millions of people in their fifties, sixties, and seventies feel their church has been hijacked by church-growth movements characterized by loud praise bands, constant PowerPoint presentations...." I think I'm on the other end of the spectrum where I want to see a church with a common mission with which everyone is on board. If that means changes in the church that will lead to members being enlivened and excited to be at church, then I want that embraced.Regardless, the first several chapters of this book are relevant to many of the churches I have visited including the church for which I have had an association for 50 years. The book hits on some real points, making anyone going through this type of frustration to reflect and be considerate. Despite it being a work of fiction, the book crafts its way through some real situations happening in a large number of churches today.I'm sure it wasn't the author's intent (or perhaps it was), but the content made me contemplate what church is best for me and my family. It motivated me to consider other options that would help me and my family in our spiritual growth.If there is one complaint, it is that you see early on that the author is going to weave the story to an obvious happy ending - that isn't reality.

  • Richard Jr.
    2019-01-31 15:35

    I'm half-way finished with this very interesting and useful book for those of us who are in churches going through tough transitions. As a member of a United Methodist Congregation that is in the midst of selling our 130 year old building and joining in covenant with a Lutheran Church to occupy their building, I see this book from two sides: a. the side of grieving the loss of a building while gaining a new found independence in worship because the building is no longer our reason for being, and b. the side of being the intruder into another church group which is welcoming us, yet a bit aprehensive that we are going to take over their church and do away with their traditions as well. MacDonald gives us a good read as he and his congregational members struggle with group dynamics, all of which would be classified as very human in nature although often not at all Christ like. A good book to open discussion of how ecumenical synthesis can take place within dwindling denominations and in the process attract a whole new clientel of members to join in meaningful worship and rebuild churches in different ways. If you are thinking as you read this, you'll probably be able to recognize parts of your own church and even see where you and your congregation fit in the scheme of church transitons and growth.

  • Frank Pace
    2019-02-12 10:27

    Really gave me an insight into the struggles most, IMHO, Christian churches are having today. How to keep two, three, four or more generations "happy" with the inevitable changes in the World. I especially liked the looking back at how the church has had to adapt to changes in history, from the very first century through today. As one on the upper end of the age continuum, I was very appreciative of the insights into the feelings of today's much younger generations about music. It really made me pay attention to the music choices in my church yesterday.My wife told me it was "a good read." I started it about 8:30 p.m.; finished at 3:00 a.m. the next morning.

  • Mark
    2019-01-25 10:41

    Overall, I liked this book. It is written in the form of a novel, and as a novel, it is not very good. There is more to novel writing than placing people in rooms, doing and saying things, which is what this book tends to do. But Gordon MacDonald is not a novel writer, so we can cut him some slack on that.This book describes a scenario that is not uncommon in the modern church, that of change and those who resist it. I thought some of the points he made through his characters were very helpful, though I think he gave the difficulties that existed in his fictional New England church a Hollywood sort of ending. Things ended up the way a pastor would hope, with very minimal exiting of people from the church.If you are a person for whom the title of this book feels like a direct quote from your own lips, I would recommend giving it a read. Don't expect a gripping novel, but you may just wrestle with some of the arguments that are made for one generation passing the torch to another. It might help to soften the blow a bit from the changes that seem so inevitable in today's Church.

  • Keith
    2019-02-06 17:37

    The book is a narrative and technically fiction, but any pastor will tell you that it reads true to life, only the names have been changed. If you're church is going through a time of transition/change and you think there will be people for whom it may be difficult, buy a bunch of these books used for real cheap and leave a stack on the table in the fellowship hall and let people know they are free for the taking for anyone who will actually read it. Once a few people begin reading it they will do all the advertising for you and and the book will start getting passed around the church. Since the book will be well received, next make sure those in your leadership who haven't read it yet get a copy and tell them you'd really appreciate it if they found time to read it. This will help get a group of people in your church ready to both understand and compassionately and effectively encounter those who are having difficulty with the changes happening in your church, whether it's the music, technology or moving to a new location.

  • Charles Areson
    2019-01-28 09:41

    I probably should give it 5 stars, but it was a clear 4.5It was not the normal, get yourself in gear you hypocrites and accept change book. It gave an account of what could happen in churches who need to go through change. It is a reminder that instead of lecturing sometimes (or most of the time) we need to listen. Though it does not deal with the issue that change is not a cure-all for church decline.

  • Leslie aka StoreyBook Reviews
    2019-01-20 10:34

    I was very surprised at how easy this book was to read for non-fiction. It is actually written as a fictional story based on the author's experiences as a pastor.This book addresses the ever changing world and what churches (and really any organization) have to take into consideration in order to survive with the technological savvy younger generation without alienating the older generation. It can be tricky to convince those that are set in their ways that change is good. The author is also able to pull in scripture to illustrate his points as well as asking questions of the older generation about things that they did that moved the church to make changes which may have met with resistance from their parents.The dynamics are very interesting and I fall somewhere in the middle, liking some tradition but realizing we have to appeal to the younger generations to draw them into the church.

  • Michael
    2019-02-04 11:13

    A fictional account written in the first person, by a real-life pastor. MacDonald does a good job of making his scenarios seem real... a historical fiction of sorts. The story is of a pastor who holds weekly meetings with a group of older members who are upset with the direction the church is heading.Explores issues of change within Chrisitianity and the desire for and unwillingness toward reinvention in how we "do church." Tackles important issues, especially regarding generational gaps, and many I'd never considered.There seems to be an underlining philosophy that church is more about the lost than the saved. Not sure I agree with him on this point, but I'll always look differently at the way a church functions because of the things I encountered here.

  • Christopher Cole
    2019-02-03 17:31

    Gordan MacDonald creates a fictional story based on the types of people he's come across in nearly 50 years of pastoral ministry. I must say I have met many of these people myself, some of them attend the church I pastor. While the names and the specifics may be fictional, the story he creates about how people take ownership of something (even church) and get upset over changes that are made is very real. I disagree with the one review that says Gordon portrays himself as being the one with all the answers. He learned a lot and grew over the course of the story, as did everyone. Bottom line, I highly recommend this book for its wonderful insight, and for how much difficulty I had in putting it down once I picked it up to read.

  • Spaz
    2019-01-29 10:35

    I must have purchased this one years ago when I was caught up and blinded like SO MANY today of the "American" gospel that is preached today and plagiarizing itself as the real Truth, FAR from it! Well this was a very quick read since all I read was the first 3 pages of chapter 1 and afterwards was curious to see what others had said about it. Only curious because of it's title, "Who Stole MY church?" I'm aware of GOD and HIS Church but was surprised to find out an Anti-Christ who has one too. Amazing how many today like to say the same thing and don't realize it. Just goes to show what the "American" gospel teaches and accepts today as (their) truth. Didn't hesitate to throw another person's church in the garbage.

  • Jim
    2019-01-22 12:33

    I am not much for self-help, church growth kind of stuff and that is why I liked this book. The style is narrative and the focus is the telling of a story from the experience of a great pastor who is a senior to most of us but has remained on the cutting edge. Gordon has much to teach us and he does it in a way that can easily be share with elders and deacons in your church. He helps people overcome the controlling tendencies we all face so that we can regain a fresh new missional approach to the church. It is not a formula he presents or a plan but touchpoints to bounce off of as you explore your own context.

  • Bob Rice
    2019-01-25 15:11

    I am not a literary critic so I will only say that I thought the book was well written. It was fiction so everything fell into place for the pastor. In the real world the generations do not mesh as well. The one thing that I took from this book was the realization that the difference between me and the younger generation is that they believe in Christ because of a feeling they get when they hear the music while my faith comes from reading and trying to understand the Bible. My faith will never be about feelings and I am afraid that feelings do not last. The problem to me is to get young people excited about learning the gospel .

  • Walt Walkowski
    2019-01-23 09:21

    What an incredibly good book! I was a bit skeptical at first; I thought that MacDonald might be taking it easy on himself. But the more I read, the more fascinated I became. MacDonald does an excellent job of fairly presenting both the feelings and issues wrapped up in change for an older generation, and the reasons why they (and us) can only hold onto the church loosely. Also I appreciated the fact that MacDonald gives us a vision for what can or might be for the church instead of simply leaving us in the struggle. I think this book, even though it is a piece of fiction, is both convicting and inspiring and would highly recommend it to others.

  • Dottie Parish
    2019-01-29 15:30

    Who Stole My Church? by Gordon MacDonald is a fictional description of a church in the midst of changes – especially changes in worship. MacDonald depicts the senior members of the church as the problem and the younger members as embracing desired change. He explains to the seniors that church music has always changed and been influenced by contemporary music. He misses the fact that the great hymns have lasted because the lyrics are theologically sound and the music is good. When changes lead to one member leaving he is viewed as angry, hopeless and never a committed Christian. The entire story is contrived and shallow.

  • Laura Smith
    2019-01-16 10:29

    Some good points, but I wish this book wasn't written as a novel. I found myself very aggravated at the characters. I really wish they had some decent arguements for their position other than "we've always done it this way, and I hate change". The issues the novel is dealing with I feel, are surfacy, and don't really go to the heart of the issue. This church is dying not because it is singing hymns with an organ (though, actually, they are not...), but because the people have forgotten the true purpose of the church. I also felt like some of the scripture used to support Gordon's points to be a bit of a stretch.

  • Garland Vance
    2019-01-17 13:11

    This fable walks through with a multi-generation church as the you and the elderly learn to listen to and appreciate each other. At times, the book felt like a fairy tale, where nice things happened to nice people with minimal effort. On the whole, however, I think that Gordon Macdonald did an excellent job of demonstrating why both young and old people in churches need to listen to each other--and why it is in the hands of the elderly to lead the way in these discussions. I would certainly recommend this to pastors who are leading aging churches or who are experiencing "worship wars." It could be an excellent book discussion for them.

  • Laura
    2019-02-03 12:40

    I really enjoyed this book. It's a very quick and easy read. My church is currently going through some similar changes that were mentioned in the book and, because there's been some opposition, our pastor encouraged the entire congregation to read and discuss this book during the month of June. I think it's a good book for both the younger and older generations to read as it helps us understand and relate to where both sides are coming from. I recommend this book to anyone who is having trouble embracing changes their church is making or to anyone who wants to make changes and is having trouble understanding why some are so opposed.