How Megatrends Are Reshaping Christian Communities

series: Allelon Missional Series

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"A master guidebook. Gibbs shows himself once again to be not only a careful scholar and a keen observer of the church but also a sorely needed prophet for these extraordinary but opportune times."--David Fitch, Northern Seminary

It is estimated that 80 percent of churches across the theological spectrum are either stalled or in decline. In ChurchMorph, internationally respected church observer Eddie Gibbs goes beyond an analysis of the causes to show how many churches and faith communities are actually breaking the downward trend. He expertly maps current converging church movements--emerging and missional churches, mainline renewal groups, megachurches, urban mission, new monasticism, alternative worship, and expanding networks--and offers a positive assessment of the reshaping of today's church.

Gibbs argues that more is required of Western churches than adopting new programs if they are to missionally engage within their context. The church must re-image itself, resulting in its reconfiguration and a comprehensive change in its self-understanding; it must morph in order to be defined by its mission in the world. Gibbs identifies trends and movements that provide signs of the kingdom, reflecting on how different ecclesial communities are working out what it means to be "church" in a post-Christendom environment. He provides a range of examples from North America and the United Kingdom to offer encouragement and assurance that God has by no means abandoned his church.


"ChurchMorph is the most thorough interpretive map of church trends to come out in years. It is informed, comprehensive, and intelligently written by one of the most seasoned missionary-statesmen around today. A book well worth reading."--Alan Hirsch, author of The Forgotten Ways; founder of Forge Mission Training Network and

"In the midst of today's breathtaking cultural changes, Christians in the West might be tempted to shrink back in order to survive. Eddie Gibbs refuses such a disavowal of mission. Instead, he gives us ChurchMorph, a master guidebook to the territory we all must travel in order to be church in the new post-Christendom cultures of our day. Gibbs charts both the challenges and the church movements responding to these challenges. In giving us his careful evaluations, Gibbs shows himself once again to be not only a careful scholar and a keen observer of the church but also a sorely needed prophet for these extraordinary but opportune times."--David Fitch, B. R. Lindner Chair of Evangelical Theology, Northern Seminary;; author of The Great Giveaway

"Over a long and fruitful career, Eddie Gibbs has consistently reported the most relevant on-the-ground happenings in the Western Protestant church. ChurchMorph is no exception. Utilizing his vast network of connections in the US and the UK, Gibbs has delivered to us a book that makes sense of terms like 'emergent' and 'missional,' while relentlessly challenging all Christians to be impelled outward by the gospel. This is a great resource for many Christian leaders."--Tony Jones, author of The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier

"Similar to Mark Noll's Scandal of the Evangelical Mind and Philip Jenkins's Next Christendom, Eddie Gibbs's ChurchMorph is another compelling descriptive study of the changing nature of Christian communities in the West. ChurchMorph could lead to transformation in the way the Western church lives out its missional challenge in a post-Christendom world."--S. Steve Kang, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

"Eddie Gibbs always brings a unique perspective to church ministry. In ChurchMorph he draws on over forty-five years of professional ministry involvement and twenty years of teaching at the graduate level to analyze and evaluate the role of churches in today's complex ministry environment. I personally find his viewpoint encouraging and challenging at the same time, and I think you will too! No matter what type or style or size of church you serve, ChurchMorph will help you understand the crucial changes taking place in ministry today."--Gary L. McIntosh, professor of Christian ministry and leadership, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University

"In ChurchMorph, Eddie Gibbs describes the current challenges facing the church, given the changes in culture over the past twenty years. He offers a broad description and analysis of movements, initiatives, and networks in the UK and US that address these changes. Gibbs gives an insightful evaluation of most renewal movements today, including missional and emerging, and he offers a helpful synthesis to move the conversation forward. Not content to only explore new movements, Gibbs also examines megachurches and imagines their future. He spends just as much time on the urban contexts as suburban, looking at both established churches and the rising influence of neo-monasticism and fresh expressions of church."--Ryan K. Bolger, assistant professor of church in contemporary culture, Fuller Theological Seminary

The Author

  1. Eddie Gibbs

    Eddie Gibbs

    Eddie Gibbs (DMin, Fuller Theological Seminary) is professor emeritus of church growth in the School of Intercultural Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, and contributes to the Study of Emerging Churches at the Brehm Center for...

    Continue reading about Eddie Gibbs


"Gibbs catalogues the latest church trends, from so-called 'missional' and 'emerging' church formats to new monastic communities and alternative worship. The book is intended for a professional audience of ministry students and church leaders and provides short summaries of innovative churches in the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain. It calls attention to cultural and geographic changes that will challenge church leaders to adapt to new circumstances if they are to engage people in a 21st-century context. . . . Gibbs's book is intended more as a resource than an argument. He commends churches of all types that succeed in advancing the Christian mission."--Publishers Weekly

"[A] carefully researched and insightful book. . . . Gibbs's useful survey of approaches to the emerging missional church will find its largest audience in seminaries and churches where discussions regarding the future of the church continue to be vital and engaging."--Henry L. Carrigan Jr., ForeWord

"A thought-provoking, big-picture view, packed with information but very readable."--Living Church

"In Eddie Gibbs' latest assessment of Western churches post-Christendom, he outlines the change in cultural seasons toward postmodernity, consumerism, and spiritual exploration in an information age. ChurchMorph is part guidebook--complete with brief community profiles and a glossary of local terms--and part Old Farmer's Almanac, suitable for church planters, professional landscapers, or weekend gardeners just trying to identify the new growth in their backyard. . . . As a compendium of mission statements, definitions, values, and visions alone, it will remain a good resource for years to come."--Jenn Cavanaugh, YouthWorker Journal

"Very readable. . . . This book provides a great deal of insightful information--both from the author's extensive experience and from the Internet--about recent missional efforts both in the United States and in the United Kingdom."--John T. Ford, Religious Studies Review

"Gibbs is an expert in understanding the intersection of contemporary cultural trends and church history. In ChurchMorph, he writes like a prophet-historian, casting the past, present, and future in an easy-to-follow format that explains why the church is where she is today. . . . One of the more interesting aspects of the book is Gibbs' comparison of the two most recent movements in the western church: emerging and missional. . . . Gibbs implies there is a growing desensitivity toward the fads of modern ecclesiology: purpose-driven, emergent, missional, mosaic, etc. ChurchMorph is an excellent survey of how the fads intersect and where they came from."--Tom Harper, Great Commission Research Journal

"This work is the product of a teacher and scholar's lifetime experience. . . . [Gibbs] has intimate knowledge of the development of both church growth and missional thinking and has been a studied observer of both Fresh Expression and Emerging Church. The result is this work in which he masterfully grasps and communicates the compass of his subject, presented in simple yet profound prose. I found reading this to be quite compulsive, bringing both insight and spiritual enrichment. . . . This book is genuinely informative, not prescriptive. It will help you address the issues yourself. Read it."--James Purves, Pneuma Review