Book Review: Autopsy of a Deceased Church



Thom Rainer, President and CEO of LifeWay, is someone that I have a great deal of respect for as a leader.  He has a background as both a pastor and a businessman and is always looking to add value to churches and other Christian organizations with the desire of drawing people to Christ.  Somehow I lucked up and started receiving blog review copies of his books and was fortunate enough to receive Autopsy of a Deceased Church in the mail just a few weeks ago.  This book is written towards pastors and includes “12 Ways to Keep Your Church Alive.”  I was fortunate to read this book as a church member and feel that I got just as much out of it as a pastor would.  As a Christian school principal, I also feel that there is a good message in this book for Christian schools…great applications!

The main idea of the book is that it’s not all about me.  The idea of church was not created for my comfort or my pleasure.  Just like the Westminster Catechism states right up from, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”  The main purpose of church is to worship God and to bring Him glory.  Not because He needs it…but because we need it!

There are several main thoughts that Rainer explores in this book that ultimately lead to the death of a church.  They are listed in the table of contents…

  1. Slow Erosion
  2. The Past is the Hero
  3. The Church Refused to Look Like the Community
  4. The Budget Moved Inwardly
  5. The Great Commission becomes the Great Omission
  6. The Preference-Driven Church
  7. Pastoral Tenure Decreases
  8. The Church Rarely Prayed Together
  9. The Church Had No Clear Purpose
  10. The Church Obsessed Over the Facilities

After listing all of these thoughts, Rainer takes time to really study churches at 3 different levels…

  1. My Church Has Symptoms of Sickness
  2. My Church is Very Sick
  3. My Church is Dying

I walked away from reading this book and recognized that God has equipped me to make a valuable and necessary contribution to the church that I serve.  It is a huge privilege to be a part of Cedarcrest Church where we are truly focused on Loving God and Loving People as we Grow Together in Christ.  The strength of our church is the commitment to the gospel and Christ’s finished work on the Cross on our behalf.

This book is a fantastic resource for a pastor or anyone that truly desires to honor the Lord by the way they are involved in their local church.  The local church is an amazing gift to the community when everyone is contributing in a positive and healthy way.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through their book review bloggers 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.”


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