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By Eddie Gibbs / Baker Academic / 2009
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It is estimated that 80 percent of churches across the theological spectrum are either stalled or in decline. In ChurchMorph, internationally respected church observer Eddie Gibbs goes beyond an analysis of the causes to show how many churches and faith communities are actually breaking the downward trend. He expertly maps current converging church movements—emerging and missional churches, mainline renewal groups, megachurches, urban mission, new monasticism, alternative worship, and expanding networks—and offers a positive assessment of the reshaping of today’s church.
Gibbs argues that more is required of Western churches than adopting new programs if they are to missionally engage within their context. The church must re-image itself, resulting in its reconfiguration and a comprehensive change in its self-understanding; it must morph in order to be defined by its mission in the world. Gibbs identifies trends and movements that provide signs of the kingdom, reflecting on how different ecclesial communities are working out what it means to be a “church” in a post-Christendom environment. He provides a range of examples from North America and the United Kingdom to offer encouragement and assurance that God has by no means abandoned his church.
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ChurchMorph is the most thorough interpretive map of church trends to come out in years. It is informed, comprehensive, and intelligently written by one of the most seasoned missionary-statesmen around today. A book well worth reading.
—Alan Hirsch, founder, Forge Mission Training Network and shapevine.com
In the midst of today’s breathtaking cultural changes, Christians in the West might be tempted to shrink back in order to survive. Eddie Gibbs refuses such a disavowal of mission. Instead, he gives us ChurchMorph, a master guidebook to the territory we all must travel in order to be church in the new post-Christendom cultures of our day. Gibbs charts both the challenges and the church movements responding to these challenges. In giving us his careful evaluations, Gibbs shows himself once again to be not only a careful scholar and a keen observer of the church but also a sorely needed prophet for these extraordinary but opportune times.
—David Fitch, B. R. Lindner Chair of Evangelical Theology, Northern Seminary
Over a long and fruitful career, Eddie Gibbs has consistently reported the most relevant on-the-ground happenings in the Western Protestant church. ChurchMorph is no exception. Utilizing his vast network of connections in the US and the UK, Gibbs has delivered to us a book that makes sense of terms like ‘emergent’ and ‘missional,’ while relentlessly challenging all Christians to be impelled outward by the gospel. This is a great resource for many Christian leaders.
—Tony Jones, theologian-in-residence, Solomon’s Porch, Minneapolis
Similar to Mark Noll’s Scandal of the Evangelical Mind and Philip Jenkins’s Next Christendom, Eddie Gibbs’s ChurchMorph is another compelling descriptive study of the changing nature of Christian communities in the West. ChurchMorph could lead to transformation in the way the Western church lives out its missional challenge in a post-Christendom world.
—S. Steve Kang, professor of educational ministries and interdisciplinary studies, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
Eddie Gibbs always brings a unique perspective to church ministry. In ChurchMorph he draws on over 45 years of professional ministry involvement and 20 years of teaching at the graduate level to analyze and evaluate the role of churches in today’s complex ministry environment. I personally find his viewpoint encouraging and challenging at the same time, and I think you will too! No matter what type or style or size of church you serve, ChurchMorph will help you understand the crucial changes taking place in ministry today.
—Gary L. McIntosh, professor of Christian ministry and leadership, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University
In ChurchMorph, Eddie Gibbs describes the current challenges facing the church, given the changes in culture over the past 20 years. He offers a broad description and analysis of movements, initiatives, and networks in the UK and US that address these changes. Gibbs gives an insightful evaluation of most renewal movements today, including missional and emerging, and he offers a helpful synthesis to move the conversation forward. Not content to only explore new movements, Gibbs also examines megachurches and imagines their future. He spends just as much time on the urban contexts as suburban, looking at both established churches and the rising influence of neo-monasticism and fresh expressions of church.
—Ryan K. Bolger, assistant professor of church in contemporary culture, Fuller Theological Seminary
Eddie Gibbs (DMin, Fuller Theological Seminary) is a professor emeritus of church growth in the School of Intercultural Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, and contributes to the Study of Emerging Churches at the Brehm Center for Worship, Theology, and the Arts. He is the author of numerous books, including Emerging Churches and ChurchNext.