I reviewed and would recommend
An outstanding description of what the church should be today, February 25, 2009
John Burke tells many stories about the way Gateway Community Church in Austin, Texas has touched people who were skeptical about Christianity. In the process, we learn much about the way Burke approaches ministry at both the personal counseling and leadership structure levels. This might be the best book for describing what people who are not Christians want from a church--compassion, practical help, meaning and God. I would expect church leaders to read this and say, "No wonder we do not have many people becoming Christians at our church--our church is nothing like Gateway." I would expect people who are skeptical about the church to say, "Church wouldn't actually be that bad if it looked like what Burke here describes in this book." There are few easy answers here--Burke expects leaders to be thoughtful, compassionate, personable, theologically astute, courageous and strategic. Burke is a free church or "nondenominational" evangelical who used to work at Willow Creek Community Church so his approach will seem quite casual, flexible, and non-liturgical to people from Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Methodist backgrounds but even they will appreciate his sensitivity and thoughtfulness toward outsiders. As a doctor of theology student, I occasionally wondered about the coherence of his approach to apologetics and how he reconciles encouraging affinity groups along with "a culture of acceptance" but my pastoral experience and my interest in missiology make me sympathetic to the need to be flexible in some of these respects--the Apostle Paul could be accused of these same "inconsistencies." All in all, this is a fine book. If I were to teach a course on Christian ministry or evangelism or the church, I would require it. No Perfect People Allowed provides hope about what the church can be and this is what many people need.