Neil Cole’s latest book on church will again be considered controversial by many Christian Leaders. This is pretty much par for Neil’s ministry as his other works at times have been labeled “heretical” by some in the mainstream. Church 3.0 is his latest book and if I had to summarize it, I would say it’s a catch all book for answering many of the questions I’m sure he and his CMA Resource organization have fielded over the years.
Whether or not you are a proponent of Cole’s style of “micro” church he will make you think though some things you might never have considered otherwise. Church 3.0 is no exception. Building on a base that the early Christian church was version 1.0 and that modern church today is version 2.0, Cole builds a thought process around a simpler, people focused type of church structure called version 3.0. Cole discusses such issues as leadership, teaching, children in worship, and money. Throughout the book, Cole gives thorough explanations for why he feels as he does and gives his biblical support for it. For certain, Cole’s church structure is his base but he does not demean any other type but merely asks the question as to how you could make it better? At the very end of the book, he even gives advice on how the thoughts he shares could be implemented in different types of settings but ultimately finds the true freedom of them in his model. This is to be expected.
Much of Cole’s thoughts resonate with me as a church planter. Well known author Francis Chan, in the introduction to the book, even advises pastors from any church style to read and digest this book and consider the implications for their own churches. Chan does not utilize the exact model Cole’s emphasizes but does find common ground on many issues with him as have I.
In the past year, I’ve read and/or listened to “Organic Church”, “Search and Rescue”, and now “Church 3.0” by Cole. I’ve found myself going back to favorite portions of each work again and again and wrestling with the thoughts from each. If you’ve read Cole’s earlier works, this one is different in the information it provides. Cole still speaks with a conversational tone but you don’t find many of his famous “lifeguard” analogies in this work. This is a “nuts and bolts” type book that can be read cover to cover or digested in smaller bites depending on what you’re looking for.
Overall, I recommend the book to you with this caveat: You will be challenged in your thinking. To dismiss what Cole is saying would be easy for people who want to criticize him, but the reality is that what he is talking about in this book is what is happening all over the country and church leaders WILL be forced to interact with the ideas whether they agree with them or not. I prefer to have an educated background about this process so I can discuss it with others and not just blatantly slander someone like I’ve seen Cole slandered by people who’ve never read his books. It’s not biblical and it’s just plain wrong.
Of the three books I’ve read by Cole, this one took me the longest to get through because I really wanted to interact with these ideas. You will too and I think for the better if you read this book!