Granted, it's counter-intuitive , but no one ever said that following Jesus would be the easiest thing in the world. Sometimes what the church is called to do, what Christ-followers are called to do, doesn't make sense from a human perspective, but that doesn't mean that God doesn't have a plan.
And J.D. Greear talks about that counter-intuitive plan in Gaining by Losing: Why the Future Belongs to Churches That Send ( Zondervan, 2015). He covers a lot more than just saying it's a good idea for churches to send, but it all boils down to complying with mandate of the Great Commission. The premise of gaining by losing is simply this, when a church is willing to let go of some of their assets (people, money, leaders, team members) and send them to plant other churches, or as missionaries, the local church may see a decrease in numbers, but the kingdom church grows. And quite often because the church is willing to send, whatever it was that they lost (members, tithers, workers) are replaced by people new to the church. Not always, but often enough.
There are a lot of ways that this happens, as members grow and develop as leaders and are sent to plant churches here and abroad. Lots of ways, but it starts at the level of the local church. Granted a church of 50-100 members cannot expect to regularly send several teams of 40 people each to plant new churches, but there are ways those smaller churches can get involved. Some of the basics are the same whether your average attendance is 50 or 10,000. When the core values of the organization emphasize a missional attitude, when the church is intentional about being a sending church and is willing to take risks in order to grow Jesus' kingdom, then the church learns to support the idea of sending of losing in order to gain.
This book is not going to please everyone. Greear pulls no punches in suggesting that discipleship and 'sending' should be primary foci of every church. He doesn't have a problem with changing things - especially music. People just don't like to be told what they should be doing - even when they know it's the right thing to do.
The size of JD's church is another factor that makes this book impractical for many people. "Sure if my church had 8,000 members we could afford to lose 40 or 50". But there is practical advice that fits any context too. (don't say I need 15 people, say I need 5 dentists, 5 doctors,and 5 nurse practitioners. P207)
Part I is the story of how JD's church got to where they are, Part II is the Plumb Lines (values) that keeps them focused and a couple of helpful appendices deal with strategies for missions and church planting. Throughout the book are anecdotal references to what's working and why at the church where Greear serves as Pastor.
Pastors, potential church planters, mission team members and leaders should read this book. So should the people who sit in the pews and think "there's no way I could help with any of that. Reading Gaining by Losing may convince you otherwise. There is a lot here that I didn't like reading, probably because I need to hear, and apply it in my life and in my ministry.
I received this book from Zondervan through Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the use of Endorsements and Testimonials to Advertising."