Monday, March 09, 2015

Franchising McChurch by Jon Mark Yeats and Thomas White

Franchising McChurch: Feeding Our Obsession with Easy Christianity, Jon Mark Yeats and Thomas White. Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2011. e-book, 161 pps.

     Franchising McChurch is a wonderful book. I suspect that it was written with Christian pastors and church workers as a main audience. Nevertheless, there were many gems to be found in the writing of Jon Mark Yeats and Thomas White.

     The book takes issue with those who run their churches on the business model with pastors [or sometimes, "spiritual directors" in cases where rather than giving sermons, someone just throws the switch on a video] acting as C.E.O.s. Anything worth having is worth working for. This is as true of a meaningful Christian walk as it is of anything else. "Theotainment" is my new word of the day (page 92). 

     The authors state that Christian churches are traditionally good at either winning new souls [converts] or discipleship among members who are already believers but not both. They suggest that the number of people on the membership rolls is not a good enough indicator of success. Some churches, especially as they become mega-plexes, lose something in fellowship when there is more than one Sunday service. When music is choreographed and services are split according to musical or other tastes, the church body becomes splintered. People expect theotainment these days rather than true involvement with the work of their local churches.

     Yeats and White do an excellent job of describing various church structures (p. 135 on) and three things necessary for true success (pp. 94-95). So what is in this book for me as an atheist?

     I review books. I seek out books whose authors demonstrate excellent command of the language [yes, I read books in Spanish also but haven't reviewed any of them here] regardless of their political or religious affiliations. I don't usually read books that suck. Most of the books that I review are books that I own that I've chosen to read. A few books are from a place that has an active paperback exchange. By and large, I read mainly e-books because of my ocular motor dysfunction problems. It's easier for me that way.

     Back to the question: what is in this book for me specifically as an atheist? The information itself was excellent as was the thesis behind Franchising McChurch. Most valuable to me personally were the authors' thoughts on control-- (pps. 54 and 60 for examples). I have found that people controlling or attempting to control other people is a problem that is not limited to some congregations. As the authors state, in order to [attempt to] control someone, we must dehumanize them first. When I want to control the thoughts and actions of another adult human being, this desire points to something not quite right within me. I strive in my own life to restrain myself from the impulse to control others. A friend or lover who takes people hostage is not appreciated. A non-professional who enjoys "writing treatment plans" for others is wasting time and effort. When I [attempt to] control others, I miss out.

N.B. I don't have children. The rules may be different for raising kids but I don't profess to know anything about that.

sapphoq reviews says: I really enjoyed this book. Franchising McChurch has much to say about the state of Christian churches in the United States and ought to be read by any pastor or church leader who is seeking to emulate the best from early Christianity. Serious Christians will also benefit. Highly recommended.

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