Book: The Rabbit and the Elephant

the rabbit and the elephantNice cover! New book called The Rabbit and the Elephant: Why Small is the New Big for Today's Church, by my good friends Tony and Felicity Dale of simplechurch and house2house. George Barna also throws in some thoughts and corresponding numbers to back them. The title reminds me of the Starfish and the Spider, or the Lexus and the Olive Tree. And it reminds me of my blog post on a similar subject entitled "Tiny is the New Small"

The Dales have been a part of the emerging house church movement in USA for many years and have a lot to say. I have enjoyed many conversations with them about house church at their home in Texas, which is where I blogged "Thoughts on House Church from a Spa of Ill Repute."

More Than Cake has some good thoughts on the book including a summary on why the Dales value simple church:

1. Jesus ministered in homes, and much of the Gospel narratives takes place in homes…

2. New Testament Christians primarily met in small group or home settings…

3. It is difficult to obey the commands of the New Testament in groups that are too large…

4. Jesus entrusted his ministry to ordinary untrained men…

5. Most aspects of ministry are better in a small setting…

6. Simple churches multiply more quickly…

7. Simple churches allow all the members of Jesus' body to be fully functioning.


Hope the book does well!! Buy it today here on Amazon and make a big splash.


Related: It was written in 2002 but my House Churches Have No Sex Appeal is still circulating.

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Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • Jon Dale says:

    Hey Andrew,
    Thanks for the kind words about the book. Love the pictures from my parents hot tub!
    The site is down for a couple of hours for maintenance. Can you change the link to the “book” in the first sentence to link directly to Amazon:
    Thanks so much!

  • victoria says:

    I’ve read this book and thought it was really good, though I do disagree with certain parts, most notably the chapter on women leaders, but that is my (unpopular) opinion.
    I’m not exactly emerging and I’m not part of a simple church but am very curious because I know my church is leaning more and more towards Simple church in principle, if not yet in practice quite yet.
    So, I’ve a few questions:
    How does one establish a consistent group of people? What compels them to be faithful to a house church? Is it community? Because I live in a very fast paced part of the USA and am so busy I can’t even set aside time to be with family.
    George Barna writes in his book The Seven Faith Tribes that the biggest segment of religion in the USA is the “casual christians”….. sadly, I see many “casual christians” in my own church. I’m assuming that casual christians would not be excited about a house church. I guess in these books the casual christian is not really a target audience but I wonder about them. I know the emphasis is on NEW christ followers and pre-christians but what about the casuals? I’m part casual myself and would really not like it if my church deemed me as not worth anything. I see a place in the Simple church for the pre-christian and I see a place for a mature christian, but is there a place for the lukewarm Christian? Should there be?
    Perhaps the book addresses all these issues. I read it about a month ago so I’ll re read it to see if I can get some answers. As stated, this really intrigues me because my church is seemingly stepping towards this model.

  • Jason Rigby says:

    I love this book!!! I reviewed this book for Tyndale you can go to my blog here:

  • I think if someone was ever bold enough to merge the emerging church with a traditional church that would be close to being something that was intended. Emergent churches tend to be VERY liberal with scripture and liberal agenda’s run wild…what feels like “life” is not necessarily always life, but the sensual feel we get from a truly emergent church tends to leave us feeling alive, but this is not always truth. TRUTH, which the post-modern emergent church fails to wrestle well with…He is the Truth right? How does a church exist without belief in Truth?
    But to the traditional, you must be trained or have no insight or value church….where you must look good, unstained and very ironed to belong or serve, yes they have it wrong too! The two different poles are the oldest church related divisions in history….the Sadducees and the Pharisees. Liberal vs Dogmatic. I don’t see Jesus in either of these poles….instead of all of these emergent movement meetings with only emergent people, how about some large meeting of emergents AND conservatives, that is the ONLY TRUE DIALOGUE (fav word for emergents)…
    Hope this Truth isn’t too much for either side…

  • andrew says:

    mike – is your “Truth” open to accountability and scrutiny?
    i would be curious where you would place me – either traditional because I work for both Anglican and Baptist organizations, or emergent, because i am helping start new forms of church.
    the liberal vs. orthodox argument does not fit in the emerging conversation imho – too many voices from both sides already represented to go polar on one side or another.

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