February 2020: Scrappy Church - A Book Review
Updated: Jul 8, 2021
In his book 'Scrappy Church – God's done not yet' Thom Rainer writes to give hope to small, struggling Churches. He has come across many Churches that are small, local neighbourhood congregations that have moved from a sense of defeat or hopelessness to a place where they are thriving. He defines a scrappy church as 'Feisty, Tenacious, Determined, Dogged Persistent,' (p.89-9). Churches that choose to act, that stop seeing just the challenges or limitations but also see the opportunities.
He says that scrappy Churches have gone through an 'Attitudinal Adjustment' (p.30), which in english just means a change of attitude! They see their need for increased prayer as a Church, they believe God still has a plan for them, they celebrate the presence of other Churches and they increase their efforts on outwards focus.
I was personally struck by the fact that all these Churches turned to prayer for the turnaround. This quote has stuck with me, 'Prayer is not an afterthought in scrappy churches. It is pervasive and powerful,' (p.25)
As Rainer has seen this change of attitude in other Churches, he notices that this has led to what he calls the 'Turnaround Cycle.' This 'cycle' includes three main elements;
1. The Outward Deluge – The Church corporately and individually turns outwards and focuses on reaching people in the community that they live.
2. Welcome Readiness – The Church focuses on being prepared for people coming to the Church. People are warmly welcomed and made to feel at home
3. They close the back door – Visitors don't just get a warm welcome but are encouraged to stay. They are made to feel a part of things, are invited to groups. People are properly discipled and equipped for the work of ministry
Scrappy Church is not the most deeply theological book that you will ever read, but that is not the point. It is there to give hope, encouragement and challenge to small local Churches. It is a useful tool to help us look at ourselves and honestly ask which areas we could be stronger in. Every Church has strengths and weaknesses and scrappy Church is a helpful tool for identifying both.