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The Rebirth of the Church

Applying Paul's Vision for Ministry in Our Post-Christian World

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Churches across the Western world have become increasingly fragmented and marginalized, often struggling to survive. Here Eddie Gibbs, a bestselling author and veteran church and culture expert, addresses the challenges of re-imagining the church in a post-Christian world. He gleans critical biblical insights from the early church's experience to help contemporary leaders and churches minister more effectively.

Gibbs compares and contrasts the social and cultural context of the twenty-first century with the first century, exploring what can be learned about the birthing of churches in the book of Acts and in Paul's letters. He identifies the issues Paul faced in order to sustain a movement growing exponentially and considers what lessons might be learned in addressing current challenges in the church. The book examines vital issues not only for the survival of the church but also for its revitalization and rebirth, and provides direction for local churches on becoming agents of mission.


Part 1: Comparing Contexts
1. Engaging Twenty-First-Century Post-Christendom Contexts
2. Engaging First-Century Contexts
Part 2: Issues and Insights
3. Urban Engagement
4. Birthing New Churches
5. Caring for New Churches
6. Welcoming and Incorporating New Members into the Body of Christ
7. Upholding the Apostolic Message
8. Relationships within the Church and with the World
9. Mission and Ministry, Then and Now


"This is a robust, prophetic missiology for the post-Christendom era from a mature expert who has helped guide us for the last four decades. The advice is sound and the implications are unavoidable. Definitely a worthwhile read."

Alan Hirsch, author of numerous award-winning books, founder of Forge Mission Training Network, and leader of Future Travelers (

"In The Rebirth of the Church, Eddie Gibbs offers a rich, thought-provoking, and thoroughly biblical approach to church leadership. Gibbs brings his wise and winsome approach to bear on key leadership issues that pertain both to New Testament churches and twenty-first century communities. Only he could write a volume that illuminates and addresses these two worlds in such a compelling way."

Ryan Bolger, associate professor of church in contemporary culture, Fuller Theological Seminary; editor of The Gospel after Christendom

"We have all come to appreciate Eddie Gibbs's insightful critique of the church--and of church leadership--in the contemporary Western world. The Rebirth of the Church is classic Gibbs with a twist. Here Eddie delves deeply and skillfully into the New Testament documents in order to provide direction for the church in the pluralistic culture we now inhabit. The result is a refreshing and persuasive challenge to exchange an unbiblical, consumerist institutionalism that has been so characteristic of American evangelicalism for a relationally robust ecclesiology that offers hope for the future."

Joe Hellerman, professor of New Testament language and literature, Talbot School of Theology; team pastor, Oceanside Christian Fellowship; author of When the Church Was a Family

"Eddie Gibbs's newest book could be his most influential. I only hope that church leaders get to chapters seven, eight, and nine--which address today's pivotal issues. For instance, the second half of chapter eight addresses the church's relationship with the world. In this time many churches have circled the wagons and no longer even pay lip service to being a 'friend of sinners' as salt and light in the world. But the recovery of Christianity's engagement with secular communities is crucial; if that does not happen, not much else will happen."

George Hunter, dean and distinguished professor, emeritus, School of World Mission and Evangelism, Asbury 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' succinct, direct style is comfortable and engaging. His extensive, careful research is evident as he draws upon several contemporary missiologists and theologians on nearly every page. Each section is relevant to the larger discussion as Gibbs's passion for evangelicalism and missions emerge. . . . Through careful exegesis and attentive practical evaluation, Gibbs offers hope that God's mission for the Church can bear fruit in the post-Christian world."

Brian Lays,

Evangelical Missions Quarterly

"[Gibbs] puts forth a robust vision for ministry in a postmodern world that revitalizes and enables the church today to recover the practices that caused the early church to grow exponentially. . . . The Rebirth of the Church is an exciting entry into the literature on the missional church, providing principles and lessons from the thought and practices of Paul and the early church for use in our contemporary context. An expert missiologist, Gibbs has a finger carefully placed on the pulse of the contemporary church, and as a result his cultural analyses are insightful and his conclusions pertinent to ministry needs today. Pastors, seminarians, missiologists, and practical theologians in various areas of ministry will greatly benefit from Gibbs's thorough biblical analysis, penetrating insight, and engaging style."

Benjamin D. Espinoza,


"Eddie Gibbs helps church leaders understand how to learn from the early church and apply those insights into 21st century ministry."


"Gibbs shows that in the hands of the right person there is profound wisdom to be mined from Paul's letters, and this wisdom is as relevant now as it has ever been. . . . It is clear that he knows his subject matter well, and he is adept at touching on theological issues without being divisive, speaking to believers from different traditions without diluting his message. . . . The book's takeaway is challenging and requires courage. The cultural landscape has changed dramatically, even in the past decade, with all signs seemingly pointing to the numbering of days for the Christendom model of church, no matter how much it is tweaked, updated, and re-branded. Because of this, the sooner long-held but misguided ideas are uprooted the better. . . . Fortunately, as painful as this may be, there is the promise of genuine fruit and new life on the other side. . . . [This book] delivers a lot of wisdom for serious consideration, along with sound principles for moving forward."

Andy Hassler,

Englewood Review of Books

"The greatest strength of this book is found in the insights drawn from the writings, ministry, and mission of Paul. The work is a handy resource for Pauline studies, detailing various aspects of Paul's theology and praxis. It provides a clear and reader-friendly overview of Paul's teachings and the connection of these teachings to the life of the church. . . . Gibbs provides a commendable analysis of the context of the early church in relation to today's context. The work offers a notable overview of Paul's church planting strategy and theology. As a resource for rectifying the present plight of the Western church, the book has merit and could prove useful in a graduate-level class. Gibbs' pertinent insights clarify for pastors and laity the contemporary church's ailments; they can read the book with profit and a desire to move forward."

Michael Baker,

Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry

"This is a worthwhile read for anyone looking to either establish a new church community, or consider ways to lead and develop an existing church community within a changing social context, to be connected, relevant, and influential in that context."

Grant Buchanan,

Journal of Contemporary Ministry

"Biblical insights pair with leader experience in chapters that analyze the social and spiritual context of how churches originate and grow, and use experiences from the Bible to teach new methods of understanding church issues and the process of revitalization and rebirth. Any who would foster effective change in their church will find this a powerful survey."

Midwest Book Review