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Publisher's Summary

Lenny Duncan is the unlikeliest of pastors. Formerly incarcerated, he is now a black preacher in the whitest denomination in the United States: the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Shifting demographics and shrinking congregations make all the headlines, but Duncan sees something else at work - drawing a direct line between the church's lack of diversity and the church's lack of vitality. The problems the ELCA faces are theological, not sociological. But so are the answers.

Part manifesto, part confession, and all love letter, Dear Church offers a bold new vision for the future of Duncan's denomination and the broader mainline Christian community of faith. Dear Church rejects the narrative of church decline and calls everyone - leaders and laity alike - to the front lines of the church's renewal through racial equality and justice.

It is time for the church to rise up, dust itself off, and take on forces of this world that act against God: whiteness, misogyny, nationalism, homophobia, and economic injustice. Duncan gives a blueprint for the way forward and urges us to follow in the revolutionary path of Jesus.

Dear Church also features a discussion guide at the back - perfect for church groups, book clubs, and other group discussion.

©2019 Fortress Press (P)2020 Fortress Press

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  • Anonymous User
  • 29-06-2020

Self-Absored Story Loses Sight of Solutions

As an African-American, ELCA Lutheran, myself, I would recommend skipping this book. I certainly wouldn't buy it or use a credit to listen to it.

I will agree that the ELCA has down a horrible job attracting non-white individuals. Yet, does it struggle more than say Methodists, and other mainstream denominations? Rev. Duncan struggled to create a thesis that can P.A.S.S. (Provable, Arguable, Specific, and Surprising) in my opinion. I am so wondering why he needs to employ profanity. Who is his audience? Dear Church's general purpose was lost with me. He listed several (should be ) ELCA concerns, their issues, and/or problems (if you would like to call it that).

But with so many autobiographical accounts of institutions, this too fell into the trap of being unfocused by its self-absorption that it was unable to get past itself and provide not only a constructive solution to such pressing issues; but, a guide / a means to how these issues can be actually fixed--not to mention a timeline of any sort. We also are left not only wondering what he has done to contribute the solution, but if he would even join in the solution?

He book was a victim's account of how the ELCA has done him wrong--which could be very true. I'm not defending the ELCA. But, it rambled. It lamented. Though in a loving manner, lashed out a bit. What we're left with is a head-scratching, "So, now what?"

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  • zachary nerison
  • 02-10-2020

Lots of passion, little evidence

Lenny Duncan is a passionate writer. He makes it clear that he cares about the issues he has presented.

What really takes away from the books value is that he makes many claims that he provides little evidence to support. One example that arises over and over is his linking of the churches decline to the churches failure to address social issues. Though this could indeed be true he failed to persuade me that the connection is as important as he is making it.

He also uses conflicting concepts as if they were in cohesion. For example he says in one line that it is good and holy for people to be their authentic selves. A short time latter he says that individuals living into their authentic selves through destructive behaviors are bad. Which is it? should people be their authentic selves or not be their authentic selves?

Further Duncan uses terms who's definition deviate from their biblical counterparts. For example he deems several things as "holy." This term is expressly biblical and its meaning is inherently linked to the character of God and what he has disclosed is "holy" in scripture. Those things Duncan deems holy on several occasions deviate drastically from what scripture outlines as "holy." In this sense he redefines the term without providing a definition which specifies how his definition varies from the expressly biblical terminology.

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  • Courtney Emken
  • 14-08-2020

A Must Read for Lutherans + ALL Christians!

This was one of the best books about living out our Christian values that I have ever read. I am humbled, inspired and excited that members of our church are reading Pastor Duncan’s book to learn about what our church needs NOW. THANK YOU for writing this book!!!

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  • nick
  • 09-02-2020

eye opening

this book has brought to light the much needed conversations we need to be having

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  • Dragon Flyer
  • 06-10-2020

Listen all the way through

The story is compelling and challenging. I almost stopped halfway through. I am glad I chose to continue.
The message brings Christ’s message to our world today. It makes suggestions of ways we can act today in the place we are today.
It is the kind of tough love we need to hear.

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  • Jmerlick Fenner
  • 04-08-2020

All ELCA members should read this!

While this book exposes and explains our failings as a church body, it also gives examples of what the church and its members need to do to be true followers of Christ. My hope is that this book will lead to reforms in the ELCA that demonstrate in tangible ways Jesus’ command to love our neighbors as ourselves.

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  • KD
  • 02-08-2020

astonishingly honest

Pastor Duncan offers so much to think about. Every Christian should read (or listen to) this book, but white people, in particular, will gain new and very important insights from a Black man who loves his church and obviously loves his neighbor as himself.

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  • SJL
  • 01-07-2020

A must read for anyone wanting to be church

A blue print of what must be done to bring us into One Church. Unfortunately profound and radical in a world that is dying for this.

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  • kayla
  • 27-06-2020

Every church leader should read this book.

I want to go buy the hard copy now to underline and take notes. I will be reflecting on the implications of this book for a long time... but am spurred to act today. Excellent writing. Compelling. Speaks truth to power.

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  • Yvonne
  • 20-04-2020

I Dare You to Read This Book

Dear Church is one of those incredibly difficult conversations that your best friend confronts you with. This amazing piece was really difficult at times, but so full of hope and humor and LOVE that I have it on my “to read again” list. I always prefer author-narrated audiobooks, but the narrator here is fantastic and the authors voice shines through. So thankful for this!

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