Church Unique by Will Mancini–A book Review

Mancini, Will. 2008. Church Unique:. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Will Mancini apparently “emerged” from the trenches of a local church to become an expert on what constitutes a true biblical church for the new millennium. Having never actually led anything doesn’t seem to limit his views on all things Attractional. He is a church consultant that has worked with some major churches and major denominations in helping them revision their church. He has a theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary and a Chemical Engineering Degree from Penn State. He is married to a beautiful woman and has three children

The thesis of the book is that missionally reaching the community that surrounds church should be driven by the unique DNA of the church not the attractional programming and traditional vision and planning of the church.

Mancini starts off the book establishing his argument that each church is called to be unique but often they are merely copies of the latest conference fad and that this is not changing the community like it should. He then points out a number of the common mistakes that churches make:- Strategically Planning, Focussing on Church growth and Compensating for lack of what Mancini calls True Vision. He then introduces the second part of the book, which centres around Clarity: The need for and the advantages of having it for a Missional church. He makes the claims in Chapter 7 that Clarity is ultimate source of vision. He builds on this concept of vision by instructing how to get it and how to frame it. Mancini then introduces Values as the common heartbeat of the Missional church: he calls them Missional Motives. The book then puts all of this together in a Missional Map, outlining non traditional measurement criteria for determining the effectiveness of a Missional Church. The final fifth of the book is about talking up this new way of doing church with a final plea to challenge the status Quo.

I think Mancini is right on the need for each church to be unique and not replicas of each other. However that is where my appreciation for the book ends. Mancini predictably picks the traditional critical arrows that are often thrown at churches and builds a case out of them. Churches are built around Charismatic Leaders, Churches are all about numbers, large churches don’t make disciples Blah Blah Blah. The book is predicated on a number of assumptions that Mancini fails to prove or even fails to attempt to verify the assumptions as accurate or true. Here are some of the assumptions of the book that are foundational to Mancini’s argument, that he assumes the reader will be too stupid to question. 1) Large Churches are bad. 2) Small churches are good. 3) The smaller the church the better the church is at making disciples. 4) The larger the church is, the more ineffective they are at making disciples. 5) Changing the name of Strategic Planning to Missional Map, completely changes the process and so it’s ok to have a strategic plan as long as you call it a Missional Map. 6) It is inconceivably impossible for an Attractional church to be incarnational. 7) God is not interested in numbers (which is interesting seeing God felt it was important that we knew He had 12 Disciples, He sent out 70 in pairs, He appeared to 500 people, and another time 40, there were 120 in the upper room, 3000 got saved on the Day of Pentecost and 5000 in Solomon’s Porch).

I am not a fan of the book. (which may surprise you). It’s not balanced. It doesn’t even attempt to table a well thought out balanced argument. Mancini has led nothing, is purely a theorist, but yet acts like the church’s Messiah. Will Mancini, put your theories into practice, grow a truly Missional/incarnational church that sees thousands of Christ followers come to maturity, sustain this over many decades and then write a book. Then it may hold some credibility. Presently I would rather read the back of the breakfast cereal box.

Categories: Book Reviews

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