Monday, August 30, 2010

Church in the Inventive Age review

If Pagitt's book is about the church in the "inventive Age," one could also argue that his book is a book of the Inventive Age. It reads like a long essay (it took me about 45 minutes to read it cover to cover), and has many pull quotes inserted throughout that offers a lay-out similar to print journalism. It's the first book from sparkhouse, the Inventive Age subdivision of Augsburg Fortress (an Information Age institution).

It also reads like a sermon. It offers an analysis of the situation (especially reflections on culture and change), helps you chart where you are (Agrarian Age, Industrial Age, Information Age, or Inventive Age, which he also charts as rural, urban, suburban, global, see page 35), and then moves to encouragement to action, either as a church "for," "with," or "as" the Inventive Age (see comparison chart on page 108).

In this sense, Pagitt's book is not unlike Niebuhr's Christ and Culture, and compares favorably to it. It is shorter, very clear, and up to date. Leaders of congregations are more likely to read it (it takes about as much time to read as to watch a movie--Niebuhr's book takes two or three days to read well).

The other reason Pagitt's book compares to Niebuhr is that, although Pagitt says that churches that are informed by previous eras still can and should exist in the modern era (he offers great advice on how to be Agrarian, Industrial, or Information Age churches given the new cultural situation), finally he does prefer and encourage the Inventive Age, just as Niebuhr ultimately prefers Christ transforming culture.

Best pull quote from the book that summarizes his overall argument? Maybe this one: "The ability to teach and preach and lead is taking a backseat to the pastor's capacity to create and facilitate open-source faith experiences for the people of the church" (34).

This a really helpful book. It isn't deep or heady or profound. It is pithy and clear, and inspiring. If there is one weakness to the book, it is that it is too strong on analysis of past cultures and the situation, and does not offer as thorough a description of what the Inventive Age actually looks and lives like. I'd like to hear more stories about Inventive Age churches, and more analysis of what precisely the inventive age is. Since more books from Pagitt are promised through sparkhouse, I hope he'll author more in that direction.

Buy this book in bulk directly from the publisher and get a very deep discount. It is worth reading with a church council, leadership team or small group.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the nice review.
    Look for more books in the coming months/years that explore inventive ageness. Community in the Inventive Age, Preaching in the inventive age, and Evangelism in the Inventive age