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This book is one part prophetic critique, one part autobiography, and one part lament for a vanishing era of small, mostly rural churches.

Tucker has great faith in stories. Left Behind in a Megachurch World brims with fascinating accounts of small, "left-behind" churches quietly doing Christlike ministry—often despite conflicts, dysfunction, and rundown facilities. These stories, some from Tucker's early, painful years as a pastor's wife in two fundamentalist churches, make the book highly engaging.

Tucker has nothing good to say about megachurches, however. "Evangelicals have been swept away by culture—and megachurches are leading the way." She says megachurches follow the Wal-Mart model, betraying the gospel and sucking the life out of smaller churches. "Seeker-sensitive" and "purpose-driven" churches redefine the church by consumerist American values and "do not reflect the theological underpinnings of the Cross and of failure."

Here Tucker paints too broadly, but she is right that "marketing is not a neutral formula that leaves substance untouched." Unbewitched by marketing techniques, churches should remember that "the last shall be first."

Tucker acknowledges small-church dysfunction, but also tells stories (many drawn from fiction) of redemptive ministry in "left-behind" congregations. She raises more questions than she answers, but her last chapter, "New Life for the Left-Behind Church," shows how small congregations can authentically be Jesus Christ to lost and hurting people.



Related Elsewhere:

Left Behind in a Megachurch World is available through Christianbook.com and other retailers.

Dick Staub interviewed Tucker on a previous book, Walking Away from Faith: Unraveling the Mystery of Belief and Unbelief.

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November 2006

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