No Perfect People Allowed: Creating a Come-as-You-Are Culture in the Church

No Perfect People Allowed: Creating a Come-as-You-Are Culture in the Church

by John Burke


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How do we live out the message of Jesus in today's ever-changing culture?

The church is facing its greatest challenge—and its greatest opportunity—in our postmodern, post-Christian world. God is drawing thousands of spiritually curious 'imperfect people' to become his church—but how are we doing at welcoming them?

No Perfect People Allowed shows you how to deconstruct the five main barriers standing between emerging generations and your church by creating the right culture. From inspiring stories of real people once far from God, to practical ideas that can be applied by any local church, this book offers a refreshing vision of the potential and power of the Body of Christ to transform lives today.

'We now are living in a post-Christian America—and that means we must be rethinking ministry through a missionary mindset. What makes this book both unique and extremely helpful is that it is filled with real-life stories of post-Christian people becoming followers of Jesus—not just statistics or data about them.'
Dan Kimball, Author, The Emerging Church

'. . . John's 'get it' factor with people, lost or found, is something to behold! Reading this book filled me with optimism regarding the next generation of pastors and faith communities . . .'
Bill Hybels, Senior Pastor, Willow Creek Community Church

No Perfect People Allowed is a timely and necessary word for church leaders in a post Christian culture. John Burke serves up quite a tasty meal full of the rich nutrients that will strengthen the Body of Christ.
Randy Frazee, Senior Pastor, Pantego Bible Church; Author, The Connecting Church and Making Room for Life

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310256557
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication date: 06/01/2005
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.36(w) x 9.28(h) x 1.12(d)
Age Range: 1 - 3 Years

About the Author

John Burke and his wife, Kathy, founded Gateway Church in Austin, Texas, in 1998. Since then, Gateway has grown to over 3,000 people, 70 percent of whom are in their twenties and thirties, and consists mostly of unchurched people who began actively following Christ at Gateway. Burke is also the author of No Perfect People Allowed: Creating a Come-as-You-Are Culture in the Church.

Read an Excerpt

No Perfect People Allowed

Creating a Come-as-You-Are Culture in the Church
By John Burke


Copyright © 2005 John Burke
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-310-25655-0



People ask me how long it took to write this book. The truth is-about fifteen years.

I left the business world for campus ministry fifteen years ago because I wanted to help my generation find authentic faith like I was beginning to experience. The first seven years of ministry to America's first postmodern generation were discouraging-I almost lost hope. Since then, God has turned my philosophy of church and ministry upside down. I now believe that only a church full of imperfect people, acting as his Body, can bring the hope and healing needed to change our postmodern world for the better-one life at a time. That's why I've written this book, because I see God powerfully at work in our generation.

A year ago I attended a conference about ministry in a postmodern context. I found myself terribly discouraged and bothered-and tired of modern-church deconstruction! For the past six years, I've read numerous books, attended conferences, and surfed the blogs about the emerging trends of new generations and their new ways of thinking. We have deconstructed everything, identified all the problems with the current church, and proclaimed what we knew would not work. We've read statisticians like Barna, Gallup, and Regele warn of the impending doom for our generation and the church in America.

What disturbs me is the absence of a path forward. We don't need more deconstruction, more theories, and more statistics; rather, we need tangible evidence that God is still doing what God has always done in every generation, constructing his church out of the most hopeless situation. It's not tearing-down time anymore-it's construction time!

At the conference that day, I ran into Jack Kuhatschek from Zondervan, whom I had met years earlier. He listened as I shared stories of the amazing things we've seen God doing in a cynical, skeptical, broken generation. I explained the hope I see for our generation in our church and in other churches around the country. Intrigued, Jack flew to Austin later that month and heard many powerful stories from the people themselves. Jack encouraged me to share this with others who desire to see God reaching our broken post-Christian, postmodern culture. No Perfect People Allowed gives tangible evidence that God can and does reach our generation through his church.

Austin is a window into the future because it attracts so many young adults. A Forbes survey called it America's "coolest" city, ranking it the best place for singles in America-singles who move here from all over the country, seeking employment in our high-tech, recreational, artsy capital city.

The stories in this book represent the diversity of our generation across the nation. You'll read about people who grew up on the East Coast and the West and in between, from the wealthy to the poor, from Anglo, Black, Hispanic, and Asian backgrounds, singles and marrieds. This is truly the most diverse generation in American history, and, as you'll see, it's a generation not easily reached by a one-size-fits-all approach. But the people of this generation form the context in which the church must function, and they live all around you right now.

Though I've changed some names and details where necessary to protect the privacy of my friends at Gateway, the stories in this book are about real people dear to my heart. (Those who requested I use their real names are noted with a double dagger-.) They have willingly shared their struggles, barriers, and brokenness in hopes of helping others find God's goodness. Some have not arrived at faith but have allowed me to present their stories in process. The hardest part was selecting a few stories to include, since there are hundreds more to be told of God's amazing works in reclaiming our generation as his family.

I've written this book primarily for leaders-church leaders, small group leaders, and ministry leaders-to help them create a come-as-you-are culture to bridge the chasm between the church and our postmodern world.

Yet I believe No Perfect People Allowed gives a unique insight into the struggle for faith that will benefit everyone-skeptics and believers alike. You will see in vivid detail how God meets seeking people in mysterious, unique ways, and you will see how no one is too far away or too far gone for God's loving reach.

Whoever you are, I pray this book inspires in you a confidence that God is still at work in our generation. I pray you are motivated to action so that we may see his-story continue to unfold through his church for generations to come. My desire in writing is to tell God's story about his work in one church for our generation. I'm amazed at God's great work and what he's showing us. This is simply a gift we've received that we share, and so we pass on what we received in the hope that others might receive the same gift from God. My prayer for this book is that God might use it to give his greatest gift to our generation-and the next and the next-through his church.


Excerpted from No Perfect People Allowed by John Burke Copyright © 2005 by John Burke. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents Introduction: God's Story in Our Stories 9
Part One: The Struggle for Emerging Generations
1 The First Corinthian Church of America 15
2 Cynical and Jaded: Results of the Postmodern Experiment 29
Part Two: The Struggle with Trust
3 Doubters Wanted: Creating a Culture of Dialogue 51
4 Losing My Need to Pretend: Creating a Culture of Authenticity 69
Part Three: The Struggle with Tolerance
5 Come as You Are: Creating a Culture of Acceptance 87
6 But Don't Stay That Way: Creating a Culture of Growth 105
7 What about Other Religions? The Tolerance Litmus Test—Q1 125
8 How Do You Feel about Gays? The Tolerance Litmus Test—Q2 147
Part Four: The Struggle with Truth
9 The Humble Truth about Truth: Creating a Culture of Truth-Telling Humility 167
10 Tribal Truth: Creating the Culture of Incarnational Truth 185
Part Five: The Struggle with Brokenness
11 All God Intended You to Be: Creating a Culture of Hope 205
12 Mental Monogamy: Creating a Culture of Sexual Wholeness 223
13 Recovering an Addicted Generation: Creating a Culture of Healing 243
Part Six: The Struggle with Aloneness
14 Nobody Stands Alone: Creating a Culture of Connection 267
15 The Family I Never Had: Creating a Culture of Family 285
Part Seven: The Struggle Forward
16 Life or Death? Creating a Culture for Emerging Leaders 303
Acknowledgments 315
Notes 317

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No Perfect People Allowed: Creating a Come-as-You-Are Culture in the Church 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
deusvitae on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A challenging and thought-provoking book on ways to reach people in postmodern America with the message of Jesus. The book is full of examples of what worked, what was not as successful, and provides many suggestions for means to go forward. It is worth consideration and reflection upon current strategies, church culture, and the way that believers can go forward in promoting the cause of Christ.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Never really liked that game. Really, i am dreadfully tired so i am going to sleep. Night.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
...and if you think the book is phenomenal, you should attend a service! It has been years since I have actually gotten excited about going to church, and now I do. Gateway (the church) truly means it when they says 'No perfect people allowed'. I have been attending services for almost a year and never have I felt so welcome regardless of how I am dressed, the car I drive, or the job I have. This book made me realize God doesn't see all those things...just my heart. Which is how we should see each other. If you're ever in Austin, TX, be sure and stop by. You will certainly feel welcomed and thoroughly enjoy it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
We've been living in a new city searching for a church where we could invite any of our friends, regardless of background, life situation, or past church experience (or lack of) without fear of putting them in an uncomfortable situation. A much larger order to fill than we had expected, because, as it turns out, many people are NOT comfortable in church--period! This book explains how that has come to be and why churches are struggling, but, most importantly, it demonstrates exactly how churches and Christians can (and should) reach out to and meet the needs of an ultra-diverse people with diverse backgrounds, lifestyles and situations. This is not 'watered-down Christianity' or 'moral relativism'--contrarily, it is biblical Christianity in its best, purest, most powerful and effective (and user-friendly) form. For ANYONE interested in reaching the seemingly unreachable. The author is incredibly engaging and easy to read, but be warned that the substance might just change your perspective on church and religion!