Ramirez says that many churches spend so much energy on their own congregation they miss the larger picture. Churches are like isolated little flocks rather than part of a much larger flock, all moving together. He explores what keeps congregations apart, the importance of unity in God's plan, and then offers a strategy for moving toward working together.
Ramirez had seen a video of starlings as huge flocks move together. Called murmuration, seeing the birds flying together inspired him to develop this book. (You can see a videos of the starlings' flights as well as the book trailer and other videos from Ramirez at https://www.designedformorebook.com/video/.)
I appreciate his looking at what keeps congregations apart, such as competition and cultural issues. He did not address the elephant in the room, doctrine, until much later in the book. When he finally does write about it, he defines unity. It is not when everyone agrees on everything but when the interconnectedness is realized and oneness is pursued for God's glory and expanding the kingdom. (Loc 2002/3320) I think doctrine is a big issue in preventing unity and was disappointed that Ramirez did not offer a good strategy to get beyond that issue.
Ramirez offers a strategy for a community wide movement near the end of the book. He suggests and looks for grassroots, local, organic initiatives. The unity, it would seem, is not something initiated by church leadership but is more the work of the individuals in the pews, working together with other Christians in community projects, etc. I found it interesting that what seems to keep churches apart is found at the leadership level but the work of unity is expected at the layperson level. I have been in a church where the laypeople were more than willing to initiate community action but the senior pastor was too insecure in his own ministry to give encouragement to possible lay ministry. If the problem is at the pastoral level, that is where the cure needs to begin.
I felt Ramirez's writing style is somewhat academic and is aimed more at leadership than the layperson, where he expects the work of unity to be initiated. He writes like he is developing a systems theory as he explores the aspects of unity and the dynamics involved. I think this book would be appreciated most by pastors and church leaders. They could use the information in this book to encourage the people in their congregations to engage in unity producing activities in the community.
My rating: 3/5 stars.
Lucas Ramirez was born in Argentina and emigrated to the United States with his family at age six. He is the director of The Gathering Place, an innovative student mentoring and Christian leadership development organization. He is a keynote speaker and has spoken at venues such as Catalyst Conference, TEDx, and the Georgia House of Representatives. He is married to his college sweetheart and they have three children.
Mike DeVito is a ministry veteran with over forty years of ministry experience. He frequently speaks at camps, conferences, and youth events. He currently serves as the Southwest regional coordinator for the National Network of Youth Ministries. He also serves as the ministry outreach coordinator at Biola University. He and his wife live in Orange County, California. They have two daughters and three grandchildren.
FaithWords, 272 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.