Bush, In Dying We Are Born

Share this:

Peter Bush, In Dying We Are Born: The Challenge and Hope for Congregations. Alban Institute, 2007.

Referenced in: Church Leadership – Size Dynamics and Transitions

LifeandLeadership Summary

This does not address “size transitions” in the sense we typically think of. It deals with the issue of churches that are on the brink of becoming extinct, and what can/should be done to revive them. Bush ties his suggestions to the theological metaphor of death and resurrection. He says that some congregations indeed should die, not in the sense of closing their doors, but in the sense of putting to death the aspects of themselves that are keeping them from realizing God’s resurrection power. These may include dead traditions, ineffective ministries, outdated perspectives on the changing mission, environment, etc. This is a challenging call for a people to awaken out of the self-absorption that typified congregational death, and make the faithful choices to align with God’s new life.

From the Publisher

Deeply ingrained in Western culture, and in the minds of most church leaders, is the belief that there is a solution to every problem. Peter Bush offers a powerful challenge to this approach, arguing that for new life, energy, and passion to arise in congregations, they must die—die to one way of being the church in order that a new way may rise.

Bush identifies two types of dying congregations. Some congregations need to close their doors, bringing to an end years of ministry. Other congregations need to dramatically change their culture and ways of doing ministry. Such change may not entail literally closing the congregation’s doors, but it will require people giving up deeply held understandings of the life and purpose of the congregation. All congregations, Bush contends, even ones that see themselves as healthy, need to be prepared to die, to take up their cross, so God can make them alive.

A skillful storyteller, Bush shows readers why churches must confront their mortality. He examines the role of the prophetic leader, who proclaims both the congregation’s death and its resurrection. He explores spiritual practices and the habits of wonder, remembering, and risk taking for congregations that know they are dying—or need to die. Only by dying, Bush says, will a congregation find resurrection life, given by God who raises the dead to life.

About the Author

Peter Bush is Teaching Elder at Westwood Presbyterian Church in Winnipeg, Manitoba and formerly served at Knox Presbyterian Church in Mitchell, Ontario. He co-directed three Worship Renewal Grant Projects that focused on training lay people to preach and to plan and lead worship services.

***For additional information on this resource, including reviews, click the bookstore links. Check the reference at page top or the links below for resource guides on related topics.***

See Resources on Over 100 Areas of Ministry Leadership: