Vertical Church: What Every Heart Longs For. What Every Church Can Be.  -     By: James MacDonald
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Vertical Church: What Every Heart Longs For. What Every Church Can Be.

David C. Cook / 2011 / Hardcover

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Infighting, backbiting, heartbreaking, frustrating.Church.

Though exceptions do exist, the reality is that the church in America is failing one life at a time. Somewhere between pathetically predictable and shamefully entertaining, sadly sentimental and rarely authentic, church has become worst of all.godless.

Vertical Church points to a new day where God is the seeker, and we are the ones found. In Vertical Church God shows up, and that changes everything.

If you want to experience God as you never have before and witness his hand at work, if you want to wake up to the first thought, "Thank God it's Sunday," if you're ready to feel your heart beat faster as you drive to your place of worship, then devour and digest the lessons of the Vertical Church

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 288
Vendor: David C. Cook
Publication Date: 2011
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)
ISBN: 143470372X
ISBN-13: 9781434703729
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

An emergency call, and I rush from my coziness into the dark community where the police have requested a chaplain. Arriving in minutes, I find the family imploding with grief having just discovered their son hanging in the garage. In a moment of unshakable pain, he jumped off the ladder and into eternity. And I will never shake the look in their eyes when I asked why he hadn't called a church. "Why would he do that?" Across town, a pool of tears on my kitchen table as an out of town guest feels the weight of his infidelity, despairing that his famished soul finds no refuge and that he has to board a plane to feel fellowship. "Has your church tried to help you?" And the Christian leader confesses he hasn't been to church in years.

Infighting, backbiting, heartbreaking, frustrating ... church.

Though exceptions do exist, the reality is that church in America is failing one life at a time. Somewhere between pathetically predictable and shamefully entertaining, sadly sentimental and rarely authentic, church has become worst of all ... godless.

Vertical Church points to a new day where God is the seeker, and we are the ones found. In Vertical Church God shows up, and that changes everything.

If you want to experience God as you never have before and witness His hand at work, if you want to wake up to the first thought, "Thank God it's Sunday," if you're ready to feel your heart beat faster as you drive to your place of worship ... then devour and digest the lessons of Vertical Church.

Author Bio

James MacDonald (D. Min. Phoenix Seminary) is married to his high school sweetheart, Kathy, from Ontario, Canada. James' ministry focuses on the unapologetic proclamation of God's Word and the worship of God's Son.

In 1998, along with 18 people, James and Kathy planted Harvest Bible Chapel, which now has a weekly attendance of more than 13,000 people. Out of the church grew a multitude of ministries touching the world: a Bible-teaching ministry, church planting, as well as a training center for pastors, a year-round camp, a biblical counseling center, a disaster recovery organization, and a Christian school. All impacting millions of lives annually. The MacDonalds have three adult children, a daughter-in-law, a son-in-law, and four amazing grandsons. For more about James, visit jamesmacdonald.com.

Endorsements

"I didn't just read this book - I savored it. It's packed with great content that every pastor, whether a rookie or a veteran, will benefit from. I'm so grateful my friend James Macdonald invested the time to help us all because it is a message of hope for every church." - Rick Warren

Editorial Reviews

"James MacDonald is one of the most passionate church leaders I have ever known. I count it a privilege to call him my friend. Vertical Church will force you to think fresh thoughts about the future of the church in the US and around the world. The chapter on preaching impacted me greatly."
Bill Hybels, senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, IL, author of Courageous Leadership

"If I read another book broad-brushing and bad-mouthing the church, I may end up doing prison ministry from the inside. Jesus loves and died for the church. That's why I love Vertical Church; it's about God's people and God's glory. It's not just another book by a critic or theoretician but a real vision from a real pastor with a real church making a real difference for the glory of God and good of people."
Mark Driscoll, Preaching and Vision pastor of Mars Hill Church, Seattle, WA

"Vertical Church will ignite your passion for the potential of God's power in the local church. Whether you're a leader in the church or just searching for more, you will discover deep and meaningful spiritual truths in this book that will inspire your faith."
Craig Groeschel, senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv, author of Soul Detox: Clean Living in a Contaminated World

Product Reviews

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  1. Fort Worth, TX
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    This is what Church should look like
    March 1, 2013
    Garrett
    Fort Worth, TX
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    This book has a wonderful insight into what makes a worship service a supernatural God-honoring event. This book falls in line with such great books as Radical, Forgotten God, and The Circle Maker in its approach to the meeting together of believers for worship. I read this back to back with "Deep & Wide" by Andy Stanley. While Andy's book felt very much like selling Christianity and toning it down until it could not possibly challenge or offend someone, Vertical Church calls us to make our weekly meeting together an event that would leave a guest breathless as they witnessed the presence of God at work. I highly recommend this along with the other books I mentioned as they all relate to the theme of spirit filled lives that are so supernatural that observers are left only with the option of giving credit to God.
  2. 1 Stars Out Of 5
    eBook is a terrible version!
    January 10, 2013
    James Akins
    Quality: 1
    Value: 1
    Meets Expectations: 1
    I was really looking forward to getting this book - I'd heard so much about it. My excitement has turned into disappointment, however, and it's not due to the content. This eBook version is AWFUL, very difficult to read. There are LOTS of sentences that repeat randomly (I've counted 6 already, and that's just in the first chapter!). In addition, there are serious formatting issues that make the text difficult to follow. And the final blow, the CBD reader crashes every single time I try to access the footnotes! All in all, very disappointing, a waste of money. I would have been better off buying the "real" book.
  3. Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    December 30, 2012
    aj2007
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Just the book I was looking for! GOD filled church.GREAT!!!
  4. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    One of the best books on how to do Church I have r
    September 8, 2012
    Robert Strachan Ii
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 5
    This book was very informative and yet left the reader the chose of thinking for youself.
  5. Simpsonville, SC
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    3 Stars Out Of 5
    Good Empahsis on Glory of God But Needs More Nuanc
    September 3, 2012
    Grace for Sinners
    Simpsonville, SC
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    Quality: 3
    Value: 3
    Meets Expectations: 2
    What I loved about Vertical Church was MacDonald's emphasis on the glory of God. That theme ran through out the book and for that alone the book was worth reading (p. 300).

    I also found his counter-emphasis on the sameness of mankind in its desire for eternity and God refreshing. It's a necessary balance to the over-contextualization that happens today. Says MacDonald,

    We are taught to study out culture and contextualize the message to fit the uniqueness of the mass we seek to minister to. . . . Is the church about scratching the minutia of our unique itches, or is it about filling the vacuum of universal commonalty instilled in us by God? (p. 40)

    While I say yes and amen, I also say it seems short-sighted to junk all contextualization as improper. Harvest Bible Church contextualizes their worship service. The first of the hallelujah! and head scratching.

    However, my main issue was movement from the emphasis of God and his glory ( Hallelujah!) to over specific application (head scratching). For instance, in describing how you can tell if God's glory is present in your church James offers these among other in a checklist: "people line up at the door long before the service starts and rush to the front to get the beast seats for passionate, expressive worship where voices are loud, hands are raised, tears are flowing, minds are expanded, and hearts are moved as Christ is adored," conversion rates in contrast to church size, or small groups meetings (pp. 90-92). Many of these things I am for. I frequently raise my hands in worship, I attend a large church that typically sees lots of conversions, and my church offers small groups but what about people who don't and let's be honest most churches are not large, may not offer small groups, and according to the sovereign will of God they may not see a lot of conversions even though they preach and evangelize fervently and faithfully.

    What then?

    In close conjunction with that was the over emphasis on singing but specifically singing which results in manifestly expressive worship. MacDonald explicitly states that singing that doesn't manifest itself with hand-raising and other outward expressions is wrong (p. 183). He also explicitly reject hymns for having too much doctrine. He contrasts doctrinally deep songs with simple repetitive songs which tend to produce the outward expressiveness.

    Intimacy demands simplicity, and with all due respect to hymns filled with great theology, that level of complexity is not what the Scripture reveals as God's personal preference. Yes, God has worship preferences too, and Vertical Church is about understanding those prerogatives and shaping our service plan to fit them (p. 176 what follows is a discussion about the angels singing "holy, holy, holy" as a model for simplicity and a rejection of the complex theology found in hymns pp. 173-79)

    Of course, that's a false dichotomy but what's more he's made his musical preferences (his contextualization ironically) binding on everyone else.

    Finally, he seems to write with a lot of angst. Not necessarily bad but not helpful either. For instance,

    Where rebuke comes from elders in the body of Christ it should be directed against confirmed, substantive error, not disagreement over method or minor variation in doctrine, and it should come from those qualified to give it. Even ESPN realizes that veteran NFL players are in the best position to critique those currently on the field. (p. 126)

    He talks about deciding not to send his manuscript off for review by pastor friends who had offered help for fear their push back causing more spiritual warfare for him (p. 305). It was hard to separate the fiascoes of the last 18 months from the tone of Vertical Church. He takes potshots at everybody from reformed, seeker-sensitive, attractional, missional (p. 40, 168), and especially at those pesky fundamentalists (pp. 128-29). The last group takes the most heat which is ironic because as a former fundy one of my biggest gripes was how they often bound people's consciences over preference which is what James does here as well.

    The emphasis on experiencing the glory was wonderfully refreshing but would have been more impactful had it focused on the working of the Spirit in church through preaching the word. Preaching was emphasized but it seemed less than singing. A trend which is harmful for the body of Christ since preaching is the only guaranteed, never coming back void method of the Spirit to bring dead people to life in Christ. James says,

    We preach so that worship will increase, not the reverse.

    How often have we sat in church and heard the platform misnomer that a song will be sung to "prepare our hearts for the message"? Yes, ascribing worth to God elevates Him to His place and lowers us to ours, readying souls for God's instruction, but the phrase can seem to imply a pecking order that should not be intended and is not true. We don't worship so that preaching will be more impactful for us; we preach so that worship will be more impactful for God. (p. 170 the context of the chapter is lifting up singing as worship not acts of service or love see p. 168)

    That's a matter of emphasis which is important. James does offer some penetrating cultural observations about the state of preaching (check out pp. 151-55, 220). The most helpful chapter for me was the one on prayer. I realized I don't pray enough or as boldly as I ought and so I do not receive because I do not ask. Vertical Church has some profound hallelujah! but also some of the most puzzling ironic head scratches.
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