saving church cvr 2d

A hopeful, authentic vision of church as it is meant to be

What if church isn’t about programs, buildings, or attendance, but about a community of people embodying God’s presence and purpose in the world? Saving Church is a prophetic call for the future that will help you reframe, retrieve, and reclaim the Church’s role as a healing force in the world.

The 21st-century Church is in a state of distress. In the pulpit and the pews, people are disquieted, disenchanted, and dispirited.

Some are afraid the church they love won’t be there for the next generation, while others feel tired and desperate for something more.

With skepticism on the rise and church attendance down, churches have a choice: cling to the way things were or stop and ask, “Could God want to do something new in and through us?”

Saving Church is a hopeful, authentic vision for the future of the Church, rooted in the convictions that: 1) The Church is still God’s chosen vehicle for accomplishing His purposes. 2) Things aren’t going back to the way they were – and they shouldn’t.

Combining the expertise and experiences of two giants of missional theology and the Fresh Expressions movement, Saving Church will give you a fresh perspective on what church can be and help you reframe, retrieve, and reclaim the Church’s role as a healing, saving force in the world.

Through storytelling, biblical anecdotes, and honest experience, you will walk away excited for the future with:

  • A healthy theology of mission that makes you want to be part of what God is up to
  • A vision for God’s mission that runs throughout all of Scripture
  • The true meaning of the Great Commission (and why it’s not just about conversion)
  • A fresh take on concepts that can be difficult for a modern audience, like evangelism and
  • repentance
  • A deeper connection to the “why” of Church and God’s intent for it
  • Principles to make your church more missional today

Church and evangelism shouldn’t be about attending an event, engaging in uncomfortable tactics because that’s what you “should” do, or creating a subculture where we expect people to come to us, act like us, and believe like us.

It should be an exciting journey of embodying God’s presence and purpose in the world — a God of expansion, inclusion, outreach, and reconciliation.

Saving Church will give you a renewed sense of what’s possible, permission to do things differently, and a restored passion for sharing God’s goodness with the world.

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saving church cvr 2d

Martyn Atkins

Martyn Atkins is a minister in the British Methodist Conference, serving as a local church pastor, a professor (of Mission and Evangelism) and President of a Methodist College, then as General Secretary of the Methodist Church in Britain. Until recently he was Superintendent of Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, London, associated with Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, and is currently serving one year in the Florida UMC Conference. He has been involved in the fresh Expressions movement since its beginnings and served several years as the Chair of its Board. He is the author of several books. He is married with three grown children and (currently) four grandchildren.


Ken Carter

Bishop Carter served as the president of the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church from 2018-2020, and he was one of three moderators of The Commission on a Way Forward, from 2016 to 2018.   In addition to his responsibilities with the Western North Carolina Conference, he is bishop-in-residence and a consulting faculty member at Duke University Divinity School.  He served as bishop of the Florida Conference from 2012-2022. Bishop Carter is the author of eighteen books, most recently a memoir, God Will Make a Way (Abingdon, 2021).  He has also written two books on the Fresh Expressions movement with Audrey Warren:  Fresh Expressions:  A New Kind of Methodist Church (Abingdon, 2017), and Fresh Expressions of People Over Property (Abingdon, 2020). His editorials have appeared in the Charlotte Observer, Greensboro News and Record, and Winston-Salem Journal,  and his commentary on Christianity in the United States has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and on National Public Radio. Bishop Carter has preached in camp meetings, prisons and jails, college and university chapels, synagogues, megachurches and house churches, and in twenty countries on four continents.  He was a local church pastor in the Western North Carolina Conference for twenty-eight years. His ministry at Providence United Methodist Church in Charlotte was described by the American Religious Historian Diana Butler Bass in her book, Christianity for the Rest of Us.  In the annual conference he served as chair of the Board of Ordained Ministry and the Committee on Episcopacy, and in five delegations to Jurisdictional and General Conferences.  He has served on the Board of Visitors of Duke University Divinity School and the Institutional Review Board of the Wake Forest University School of Medicine.  He earned degrees from Columbus College, Duke Divinity School, the University of Virginia, and Princeton Theological Seminary.  In addition, he is a graduate of Leadership Greensboro, Leadership Winston-Salem and the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation. Bishop Carter’s great hope for the church is that she will rediscover an orthodox Christian faith that offers the radically inclusive grace of God to all people, and at the same time calls every follower of Jesus to inner holiness, missional compassion, justice rooted in the gospel and a hopeful story of transformation. He travels extensively across the conference, preaching in local churches and encouraging lay and clergy leaders.  Bishop Carter and his wife Pam have been married for forty-two years.  Pam has served as an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church, most recently in disaster recovery, and she has a deep involvement in God’s mission in Haiti.  They are blessed with two adult daughters.  Liz is married to Yoonie and is a professor of Chinese at Vassar College, and Abby is chief officer for Communications and Marketing at the University of Tennessee Southern.  Abby and her husband Allen are parents of Paige and Natalie, the bishop’s granddaughters. The Carters reside in Charlotte, North Carolina, and consider it a great blessing to serve the people of Western North Carolina.



What people are saying...

As a church leader in the post-Christian European context, I found myself inspired, irritated, invigorated and even hopeful reading Saving Church. Atkins and Carter are seasoned church leaders - thinkers and practitioners - with vast experience of wrestling with the reshaping of the church for mission in the European context and US context. Their thorough biblical reflections on mission and the perception that the gospels are missional and evangelistic in nature lead to their compelling vision of the mission shaped church. They make the case that Fresh Expressions offer a healthy missional approach to incarnationally read the post-Christendom culture, build relations, love, serve and make disciples. The several “Pauses” offer searching questions for reflection, which makes the book a brilliant resource for small groups and not least leadership teams.

Christian Alsted
bishop in the United Methodist Church, Northern Europe

Church should be simple: a community of people centered on Jesus, collectively embodying God’s work of reconciliation in the world.

But over the years, we’ve made it so complicated. Buildings and boards, subcultures and splits, programs and politics.

Can we retrieve Jesus’s original vision for His Church, reclaim evangelism as something good, and make Christianity so life-giving that people can’t help but want to be part of it?

Saving Church will help you and your church:

A hopeful, authentic vision of church as it is meant to be

Gain a positive vision for the future

God hasn’t given up on the Church, and we aren’t either. It might look a little different than we think, but we believe the best days are ahead.

A hopeful, authentic vision of church as it is meant to be

Focus on what really matters

It’s time to strip away what’s been layered on top of church and evangelism and retrieve the original purpose and meaning of mission and The Great Commission.

A hopeful, authentic vision of church as it is meant to be

Become truly mission driven

Start going to where people are, listening, loving, and embodying the presence of God in a way that makes disciples, not just converts.

saving church cvr 2d

Are you ready to reframe, retrieve, and reimagine what the Church could be?

It’s time for a fresh vision of Church — a holistic embodiment of life-giving faith that inspires people to follow Jesus and join in His mission. Get Saving Church and find renewed hope for your church’s future today.

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