Jeff Baxter, the lead pastor of River Church in Lakewood, Colorado, has written for top Christian publisher Zondervan with books aimed at specific groups such as Christians attending college, but his forthcoming Light & Life Publishing book, “From Broken to Beautiful,” has a much wider target audience — “anyone who cares about the local church.”
“I have seen my share of brokenness in the local church as well as the beauty of the local church,” said Baxter, a Free Methodist elder with a doctorate from Fuller Theological Seminary, who added that the idea for the book came from “my passion for the local church and having been connected with the local church for a couple of decades.”
Prospective readers include “other pastors or congregation members — whether it’s the skeptic or the cynic — or even the person who’s left the church long ago,” and Baxter wants “to try to connect all of them together and help them realize that God’s not done with the local church.” The book also may be of interest to people who are not believers in Christ but have curiosity about the church.
Baxter said the book will help longtime pastors “rekindle their passion for the local church and help them grow and have some tips and tactics on how to do that along the way.” For people who have left the local church, “this could be a primer for them to come back and realize the purpose and the pattern that God has had for the local church.”
In discussing the local church, the book uses the metaphor of streams. While writing the book, Baxter said, he “started to do some research and figured out that there are a lot of streams that are broken and need repair, and as I dug deeper, I realized there is a lot of money being spent on repairing broken streams nationwide to the tune of $1 billion a year.”
Stream repair can be complicated and difficult, and the same can be true of fixing brokenness in the local church.
“Fixing broken churches starts with fixing broken people,” Baxter said. “It’s going to require some hard work and to get our hands dirty and get into the stream and move some rocks around.”
Several church leaders already have read the book, and they’re giving it strong recommendations. Bishop Matthew Thomas said, “Dr. Jeff Baxter accomplishes what some books on the church fail to achieve — objective self-analysis that leads the reader to some conclusions that are transferrable for any ministry. Jeff’s humble and astute observations on the church and leadership are worth reading by pastors and lay alike. His vulnerable approach makes it approachable for all who love the church and desire to serve in it.”
River Conference Superintendent Dennis Jeffery said Baxter “offers sound biblical counsel rooted deeply in his pastoral experience in large and small churches. I encourage everyone in your church to read and discuss this book as a step toward becoming healthier as a church. I resonate with Jeff’s passion for Christ’s bride, the church, to be a beautiful manifestation of God’s great love for humanity. You and your church can be blessed as you engage this vital issue.”
Visit fmchr.ch/broken2beautiful to preorder “From Broken to Beautiful.”