Book Review: The Passionate Church

The Passionate Church: The Art Of Life-Changing Discipleship. Mike Breen & Walt Kallestad. NexGen (Cook Communications Ministries), 2005.


One of the pushes of churches is to draw people in. Given the failure of that in recent years, church leaders are scrambling for answers in how to get people back and retain them. Mike Breen & Walt Kallestad have stumbled across an obvious answer which has eluded most of the churches: Attempt to make churches about what they were initially. Breen & Kallestad have packaged their observations in what they call “LifeShapes for Leadership” and have presented this in “The Passionate Church”.

In their book, Breen & Kallestad begin by describing the rationale behind their “LifeShapes” program. The authors then relay a process for learning, the idea of handling rest versus work and the idea of balancing relationships with those in the church, outside the church, and following Christ. They then write of a leadership model, of the roles of the Church, and the Lord’s model prayer. Finally, Breen & Kallestad bring forth the idea of the Church as an organization, and relay an evangelistic model to the reader.

In the course of this book, Breen & Kallestad point out a number of important things about the nature of the true Church that most of the church organizations are missing. For instance, diverging some from the over-importance placed on these church organizations created by men is a welcome change, along with emphasizing the priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 2:4-9) and providing explicit teaching to avoid the typical problems of cancer in many churches. This book is written in a very clear understandable style, and some of the “shapes” that the authors use present a useful mnemonic for what they are relaying.

However, this book suffers from an oversimplification of message in many parts. This is coupled with an over-wordiness by which the size of this book could easily be halved. Consequently, the substance of what is written is very unfulfilling. Some of their shape models fall flat as well. The authors tend to very freely apply Scripture to their own points, causing a dubious connection between the Scripture text and what the authors have to say. Finally, much of the true story of the Gospel and the Scriptural intention of discipleship is left out of Breen & Kallestad’s work, as to be expected of disciples of the seeker-sensitive model, leading to the presentation of a skewed view of Christianity.

Overall, this book provides a useful introduction to several Biblical concepts which would be useful to a newer believer in Christ. Unfortunately, so little substance is presented in this book that the reader is often left wanting. While it might function as a good entry into true Biblical discipleship, many other resources are far better.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

Book Cover Image Source: Amazon


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