Book Review: Natural Church Development - A Guide to Eight Essential Qualities of Healthy Churches by Christian Schwarzcategories: Books, Religion & Spirituality, Christianity, Ministry & Church Leadership, Church Administration, church development
This is a Book From Planet Where?!This book is a piece of crap, for more reasons than I have time to go into. Here's but the tip of the iceberg: This book is a theological nightmare. My cat is a better theologian than Schwartz. Basically, his book presents us with the wimpiest God in the world: a God who would really like to do something in the world but, gosh darn it, needs our help to pull it off. Oh, what a poor God. Schwartz sure couldn't be talking about the Jewish-Christian God who needed absolutely no one's help in creating everything that exists. Or the Christian God who raised Jesus from the dead. If the real God could pull those things off on His own, who is this puny God that Schwartz talks about that needs our help? Surely not the God of the Bible.
This book sounds like a Scientology textbook or a dictionary from another planet, repleat with words like "biotic," "autopoiesis," "automatisms," "monoculture," and "harmonious synergy." Who the heck talks this way, and who the heck understands any of this? Sounds like the only way Schwartz could make this insane book sound important was to use words that sound important. If Schwartz was really so smart he could use language that people could actually understand.
But my basic criticism is this: This is a book of sheer unbelief in the gospel, the good news that a sinful world and a sinful church are safely in the hands of a merciful Christ, who will care for His church in these days like He has cared for His church for 2,000 years. But then why would Schwartz be interested in a merciful Savior? For him there is no apparent sin in humanity that needs redeeming. We're all pretty righteous co-workers of this wimpy God.
Schwartz proves what P.T. Barnum (or whoever it was) said, "You will never lose money underestimating the taste of the American public." In this case it's the taste and theological awareness of pastors that we're talking about. Pastors with bad taste and poor theology will buy this book by the bundle. And to them I'd like to say: If you read this book, think these are good ideas, and put them into practice in your church, good luck with your new Schwartz paradigm, as big and as qualitative as you can crank it up. I prefer the real church, the real God, and the real gospel.
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