Buy the book! The Index of Excellent Congregations contained in the book is worth the price. It provides an excellent beginning point for discovering mentoring congregations throughout the United States.
Beg congregational leaders to study the best practices represented by these congregations. Urge congregational leaders to at least visit the web sites of some of the congregations. Organize a journey to visit one or more of these congregations.
Paul Wilkes, with the sponsorship of a Lilly Endowment grant, has been looking for excellent Catholic and Protestant congregations in the United States. He found 300 Catholic parishes and 300 Protestant congregations. A book entitled, Excellent Catholic Parishes, profiles eight parishes, and this book profiles nine congregations.
The research team was looking for Protestant churches that impact the lives of people and make a difference in their communities. These congregations are beacons of hope and guidance and examples of what it really means to be a practicing Christian today.
Another key point is that they were looking for reproducible models of excellence that would act as a travel guide for the spiritual strategic journey of other congregations. They found many of them!
As a member of the Lutheran Church of the Incarnation, I must admit that I have been anxiously awaiting this book since January. The Lilly Endowment funded Paul Wilkes, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, to study the attributes of Protestant congregations or Roman Catholic Parishes that lead to excellence. One result was this guidebook to 300 Protestant congregations. His criteria does seem to define what I couldn't have put into words myself. As I have moved around the country, I have noted that some congregations cause the Holy Spirit to stir within you as soon as you meet your first member. This book describes what these unique congregations do to reach out to others and share this knowledge of the Lord. He describes the joy the members experience as they live out their Christian lives as members of these dynamic communities. This would be a great resource for anyone looking to either find a congregation to call home or to get ideas for their current congregation.