Saturday, September 20, 2014

Church Locality - by Jim Tomberlin and Tim Cool - a review

In the practical book Church Locality, Jim Tomberlin and Tim Cool offer insights into current church building trends and rules.  Some of these rules include how much children's square footage you will need for a building renovated or a build project.  (pg 115-116)  There are very helpful pointers on chairs per square feet for planning a new location.  This kind of common sense advice is hard to come by and is appreciated in such a book.

Other rules include how cities tend to interact with churches today and community perception of churches coming into their area with a building.  There are practical suggestions such as having a parking lot ministry.  This is not strictly tied to having your own building, but also any situation such as being in a portable church scenario.

A good portion of the initial advice is for those starting multi-site or church plant locations that are rental.  If you are in the early stages of church planting this will be new info that makes the book worth a great deal to you, if not, it won't be especially useful and you'll find yourself jumping paragraphs to the advice for your situation.  On multi-site advice, even a small or medium sized church can see some ways to implement what the authors suggest.  Since multi-site could in my view be an option in many life stages of a church, I think most readers in church leadership would see wisdom in those pages.

To some extent, this is a book for mega-church pastors, lay leaders or staff, thus it has a very limited audience especially for a publicly published knowledge.  This mega lean though is tied to the multi-site phenomenon again and again.  It is not just a mega-church trend, but certainly that is the bulk of multi-site worship venues hinted at in the book.  Drawbacks of those are not covered too well, with the fact that many prefer not to leave their living room just to go watch a tv screen of a pastor in a room with other people, etc....  The typical church pastor or associate pastor or lay leader then will not find about 1/4 to 1/3 of the book applying to their situation or questions directly.  You can still extrapolate out advice from the thoughts though, so I would still recommend it to leaders.

On the flip side, the other gold nuggets of advice in between all of this make the book still worth the read on trends.  You get a good picture of what is going on today in church planning and real estate necessary choices.  Plus, at least you will know what the mega-church 35 minutes across town is thinking too if you read the book.  Church planters of most church plants will not find this book directly relates in summary, but will be able to fill in gaps to use some of the advice.  Those considering church planting will greatly benefit, and those administrating multi-site planning will find this book helpful.  There are tips of the hat as well in summary to various wise strategies of church ministry, just practical tips, that are mentioned worth an immense amount to a leader.  However, sometimes they are not fleshed out enough to run with them exactly.  A wise peer or veteran who has been through the minefields though can fill in the "how to" perhaps.

God bless!

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