Dr. Bob Whitesel is an excellent teacher, communicator, and servant of the Body. In his new book Cure for the Common Church: God’s Plan to Restore Church Health (2012), Dr. Whitesel draws from his many years of experience as a church consultant, extensive research, and wisdom from coaching ministry leaders and teaching in seminaries, to explain four “cures” to remedy stagnated spiritual growth and restore church health with Christ at the center.
This new work is completely biblical and absolutely practical. The four cures in which a church needs to grow are O.U.T., S.M.A.L.L. L.E.A.R.N.ers, and N.E.W. Each section begins with a chapter focusing on the “why” aspect, approaching the strategy from a theological and ecclesiological perspective, then followed by a chapter on the “how”, a practical implementation for each cure. Along with historical church examples from John Wesley and others, are biblical accounts of these practices and brief contemporary narratives to illustrate the cure. These short stories will be particularly beneficial for pastors and other ministry leaders in grasping each growth cure.
Dr. Whitesel even gives instruction on how to formulate a T.E.A.M approach to administering the cures from the beginning and concludes his book with an advisory 90-Minute Annual Checkup. Like the T.E.A.M designation, each cure name is also an acronym where the letters spell out the prescriptions. In addition, Dr. Whitesel includes several charts, discussion questions, and summary points to aid the reader or reading team in their partnering with God to lead their church to growth.
While I found all four cures to be biblically mandated and essential for health, I found the cure to grow L.E.A.R.N.ers and to grow N.E.W. particularly convicting. As much of the Church in the West is realizing and reawakening Her main purpose, “to make disciples” (Matthew 28:19-20), a strong emphasis on discipleship will continue to be stressed. Worship, spiritual transformation, mentoring relationships, authentic community, and mission- service oriented small groups will help drive the “up, in, and out”, pattern of Jesus’ life in the Church.
I highly recommend Dr. Whitesel’s book and pray the Lord uses it to help inform and inspire those in the Church to action. May the missio Dei be fulfilled as we share the reconciling message of Jesus Christ with others, and lead wayward people back into the relationship God intended.