Who Stole My Church? is a book that’s both the same as, and different from, other books on transitioning churches.
That’s not particularly helpful, so let me explain. It’s the same as other books because it covers some of the same ground: changes in culture, life cycles of organizations, the history of musical innovation within the church, and the bell curve that divides people into innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. This is helpful information, but it’s ubiquitous. But that’s not the unique contribution of this book.
Who Stole My Church? is different from any other book I’ve read on transitioning churches because it’s a story, or parable, of real people who resist change in dialogue with an older pastor who leads them in processing what’s happening. I said that they’re real people, but I need to make it clear that this is a fictional book. But they’re real in the sense that I’ve met every single one of them. In fact, sometimes I had to put this book down and shake my head. Was MacDonald spying on the church I pastor a few years ago? MacDonald writes as someone who knows how people struggle with change within a church. He’s been there. I wish this book had been written ten years ago. As a work of fiction, it’s very true to life.
This book may help the late majority and laggards to understand why churches must contextualize, even though this is a painful process. I especially like it because it’s written by someone in their peer group. Those who are struggling with change will recognize themselves in the book, and will also probably feel that they have been sympathetically portrayed.
This book will also help pastors understand what’s really happening as people react to change, and it may provide a model for both groups to come together and process what’s happening.
I really hope that pastors who are thinking of going into an established church to lead change read this book. It will give them an idea of what they’re in for.
Who Stole My Church? doesn’t do everything. It doesn’t help sort out what shouldn’t change, and how much change is too much. It doesn’t provide all the answers to what’s faddish change versus significant change. It doesn’t present a deep theology of the church, and it doesn’t unpack all the resources of the gospel that will help us in the process. But it succeeds in what it sets out to do. It tells a story of a church that’s struggling with change, helps both sides understand what’s going on, and provides an example of how the resulting conflict could lead to greater health rather than disintegration. If you’re in a church struggling with change, or thinking of pastoring one, you’ll find this book helpful.