A couple of weeks ago, I finished reading the book, Surprising Insights from the Unchurched and Proven Ways to Reach Them. I’m fairly certain this book has the longest title of any book I’ve ever read. However, this will likely be one of the shortest book reviews I’ve done.
Surprising Insights is essentially a report of the author’s (Thom S. Rainer) extensive research with a group of people he calls “formerly unchurched.” And it does live up to it’s name. Not everything was “surprising,” but it did contain a great deal of insight that I wasn’t expecting.
Essentially, Rainer makes an important and critical distinction between “unchurched” and “formerly unchurched.” Instead of focusing on reaching people who have no connection to a church, he examines the experiences of recently new church attenders and what drew them into the church. In other words…what “worked” for them and drew them into a faith community. It’s a simple, yet profound distinction that informs and directs the course of the book.
It’s a quick, straightforward book to read. But it does read like the report of an extensive survey. There are multiple anecdotal stories and examples throughout that enhance the data. These were okay, but I was mainly interested in the data.
If you’re a Pastor and you are interested in reading about some of the factors that draw unchurched people into church, I recommend it. It will give you some great perspective and likely challenge (at least some of) your current approaches to ministry.