This book by Gary McIntosh is one of the best books I’ve read on church life cycles and growth. McIntosh is president of the Church Growth Network in the States, and he is clearly well read and experienced – he knows his onions! This book is practical and insightful. It contains a number of helpful tools to help church leaders think wisely about where they are and where they want to go.
In Part One McIntosh examines the characteristics and needs of emerging, growing, consolidating, declining, and dying churches. He plots the life cycle of a church as the standard bell shaped curve. The time taken to travel through each stage varies but all local churches travel the same path. The key for the leader is identifying what stage you’re at, and acting to initiate that which the church needs at a particular stage of the cycle.
In Part Two McIntosh examines the characteristics and needs of different sized churches – relational (15-200), managerial (200-400), organizational (400-800), centralized (800-1500), and decentralized (1500+). Now these figures may feel like they’ve come from the other side of the Atlantic but I think his material on relational, managerial, and organizational churches is insightful and relevant for UK church culture. We do have many churches across this spectrum (not many above) and hopefully many churches who could be, or aspire to be, at to the next level.
In addition there are a number of helpful bonus pages and tools on ‘indicators for church closure’, ‘assessing your stage’, and considering staffing and structures to help growing churches. If you’re serious about seeing your church grow you can’t afford not to buy this book!