Review: Exponential

I had high hopes for Exponential by Dave Ferguson & Jon Ferguson, but sadly, it did not live up to my expectation.  This review is part of the Exponential Blog Tour.

My major issue with the book was the seemingly lack of God or Christ or the Holy Spirit.  For example, the first chapter is entitled ‘You’.  We’re starting a book about church growth, not with God, but with you.  This is best shown by the opening line of the first chapter, “You can do it.” (17)  At least in the first chapter, God was slipped in through the back door.  I saw a lot of “we decided” and “we continued”, but saw very little “God led us.”  The only time I got any sense of discernment taking place was in chapter 3.

[A]t an all-staff meeting following a day of prayer and fasting, we heard God speak quite clearly to our leaders…When our team reconvened, I asked, “Did anyone feel like they got any direction from God?”  Everyone hesitated, and then Steve raised his hand and said, “In these tough financial times, I think God is saying, ‘Don’t shrink the vision; increase the vision!’”  This sounded counterintuitive, but it was confirmed by several other people. (52)

Spiritual disciplines, prayer and fasting, led to discernment of God’s will.  They didn’t decide…God decided for them.

To me, the emphasis was on us, not on God.  I have no doubt that Dave and Jon do not emphasize their efforts to their successful ministry.  I’m fairly positive that that they would attribute their success to God.  But the way the book was written made me think otherwise.  The lack of God language was a turn-off for me in a book about church growth.

That said, I do think there is something to the apprentice/disciple model put forth in the book.  Many churches struggle with what it means to be a disciple of Christ today.  I think Dave and Jon put forth a good model of discipleship.  My job as a church leader is to raise up others in the faith.  Basically, my goal is to raise up someone to take my job and raise up future disciples of Christ.  I think the model put forward by Dave and Jon is a viable model for the Church today.

Overall, I am conflicted about this book.  I think Dave and Jon have something to say to and for the Church today.  I just think it was poorly executed in this book

Disclaimer:

I received this book free from Zondervan as a part of the Exponential Blog Tour. Providing me a free copy in no way guarantees a favorable review. The opinions expresses in this review are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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10 thoughts on “Review: Exponential

      • Your review raises some interesting questions about writing for the church / pastoral audience. How much should God-language be used? How much can be assumed of the audience? etc. It will be interesting to see what other bloggers have to say this week.
        AR

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  2. Craig,

    Thanks for participating in the blog tour. And thanks for giving us the benefit of the doubt – Jon and I both feel very grateful to God for what He has done through COMMUNITY and NewThing.

    Maybe some clarification can help in regards to your review. The book is subtitled “How You And Your Friends Can Start A Missional Church Movement” and we believe this is consistent with Jesus expressed desire in the great commission that we carry out His mission. So we start in chapter 1 with Acts 1:8 where Jesus says, (italics for emphasis) “But YOU will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on YOU; and YOU will be my witnesses…” Jesus starting point for accomplishing his mission was telling the disciples, “I’m going to use YOU.” That is why we started with “you”; the same place Jesus started. Hope that helps.

    Thanks!

    Dave

    • Dave,

      Thanks for taking the time to respond to my review. I appreciate when authors take the time to interact with what I’ve written, regardless of what I have to say.

      I do see your point regarding Acts 1:8 and did struggle with it as I was writing the review.

      Again, thank you for stopping by.

      • Dave and Craig,

        It seems like the balance between God and “You” (us) is a perennial debate in a sense that all good things come from God, yet we’re charged with being his stewards, so in a sense we are responsible for things too. It’s appropriate to say both “God will build your church,” and “you can build a church” – would you agree?

        AR

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