Help Choose the Cover of My Next Book, and You Could Win a $100 Gift Card

A few months ago I wrote a blogpost called “Autopsy of a Deceased Church.” The article was my analysis of why a specific church had died. The responses to the post exceeded my greatest expectations. That article quickly became my blogpost with the most views.

I continue to have significant numbers of persons from a variety of churches ask me to expand my work. The requests have nudged me to write a book on the topic. I will be examining the death of several churches in the upcoming book. But, contrary to the title, I hope the book becomes a book of hope for many church leaders. My desire is to examine the death of churches so that others may not go down that same path.

The book will release in 2014, and B&H Publishing is in the formative stages of designing book covers. Here are five of their concepts. I am asking my blog readership to choose one cover per reader and offer comments on the covers.

My social media team of Jonathan, Amy, and Amy will choose the five best responses next week. All five of those persons will be declared a winner. From those five, they will do a drawing and one person will win a $100 gift card from LifeWay that can be used at our stores or at The other four will receive a signed copy of I Am a Church Member.

You will be notified of the winner next Wednesday here on the blog. We will close comments on Monday, July 22, at noon CDT.

Thanks so much for your help. You chose the cover of my previous book. I am hoping you will do the same for this next book.

Please confirm your selection by clicking on the “Vote” button at the bottom of the page. Enter the giveaway by commenting on your selection in the comments below.


  1. says

    I voted #3. At first, I had a hard time deciding on which to vote on. I didn’t like #2 or #4. I did like #1, #3, and #5. I did want to change #4 with the different kind of font. Need more vine covering over the church and overgrown weed in the front yard and broken down looking church on #5. So therefore, I voted #3 as the best I could do.

  2. Hugh Patterson says

    Just based on the designs as pictured, I would choose # 3, as it is the only one that gives a visual image of an autopsy. But I would really like to see a combination of #1 and #3. I like the red cover and the EKG flat line of #1, showing a heart beat gradually moving to flat line, as this is how most churches die. So if the scalpel could be added to that cover, I think it would be a more dynamic image and the most design reflecting to death of the church and the survey (autopsy) of what led to its death.

  3. says

    I voted for number two, but number four is my runner up. It was just difficult at first to see it was a church under a shroud (the steeple in particular was obvious enough).

  4. says

    I voted #3 as well! It’s clean, fresh, and overall visually appealing! I love color palette and light contrasts! Bravo! Looking forward to the new book!

  5. says

    I thought through what a good cover would look like before looking at the suggestions. I considered the toe tag, the sheet, the scapel and a picture of a bleak looking church, so I hit on all of your ideas except the heartbeat. However, when I looked through the choices given, number 4 stood out to me. I liked the impression of a church on the sheet, though it does look as if the church was on top of the sheet and not underneath. Maybe that church was resurrected and left the impression behind, so this cover leans toward the possibility that there is hope for the church in decline. Thanks for the opportunity to choose, I love thinking about images that capture a message.

  6. says

    I also voted #3. It seems to point to the fact that there is hope. The scalpel would seem to indicate that though there is much danger, there is also hope. I like that.

    I didn’t like #5. I don’t like the idea of putting a church on the cover. For some, that will bring back fond memories, but when they realize you are calling their church “dead’…well, I just think it could be misunderstood. Or maybe that’s what you want!

  7. Jeremy says

    I choose #2 because it visually catches my attention more than the rest. It has visual depth and contrast which would help someone pull it off the shelf for the purchase. I a, looking forward to reading it and purchasing it with my 100$ gift card.

  8. says

    I voted number 2 as I think it stands out the best. Number 1 is boring and in number 4 it isn’t immediately apparent it is a church building behind the sheet

  9. says

    Before taking a look at the suggested covers, I thought through what would capture the idea of the autopsy. I came up with the toe tag, the scapel, the sheet, and an abandoned church. So I hit on all the suggestions except the heartbeat which didn’t draw me in. I voted for number 4 because I like the impression of the church on the sheet. Also, it appears the impression is on top of the sheet as if the church is no longer there and is now resurrected. So there is hope!
    For me, the other covers fail to capture hope.

  10. John Pace says

    I voted for #4. The image of a church covered by a sheet as if in a morgue would be a startling image, and hopefully a convicting one as well.

  11. says

    I decided to go with 4 because it gets the closest to what I pictured when I read the title… I would like to see the sheet pulled back, exposing the dead church. Have the church cut open with some of its contents being investigated, ala an autopsy.

    I do like the toe tag from 2 as well. Those two options give the best hint to an autopsy without being as revealing as what I’d like to see. At the same time as an RN in a Medical ICU, I’m a bit more twisted on what would best catch my eye when it comes to a death/autopsy scene.

  12. Joel says

    I voted for number 4 because it has the shape of many of the older churches that are in danger of dying off. It is also representative of now much of an impact the church has in the community prior to shutting down: nothing more than a shadow in the background.

  13. says

    When I read the title of the new book, a “toe tag” came to mind. So #2 naturally caught my attention. After looking at the proposed designs, I think I prefer #3. It has a “cleaner:” more professional looking appearance.

  14. James Cox says

    I like the “toe tag” one but I would like better if it was around a steeple of a church on a gurney

  15. says

    I chose #4 because I believe it shows both the idea of a dead church but hope for a resurrection as well. All the designs were great! Can’t wait to read this one!

  16. says

    I voted for #2, as it and #4 were the ones that stood out the most to me. What put it over the top was the color, I think there are too many red books out there and the others are just too plain – obviously the association with red and emergency does well, but the blue and the tag are connotative of a long-dead body (church). It’s cold yet still grabs your attention.

    To me, the finality of #2 sets the stage for either a resurrection (which only God can do) or a harsh and noticeable reminder that these churches are truly dying for good – this is not some popular trend, but is the gloomy reality.

  17. says

    having been in a few Autopsy’s #3 got my attention, #1 is good if you were speaking of the dying church, but you are examining the cause of one that is already dead. so #3 works well. #2 would be a second choice, # 4 reminded me of the KKK and #5 just doesn’t get the attention.

  18. sam foster says

    I liked #4. It ties in well with the title, but you have to stop and think about it for a minute to get it. It brings in the idea of death, but not in a way that would bother the squeamish…like #3 did for me. :)

  19. B.O. says

    I choose #3 because I think it best captures the medical image of an autospy and it had a very clean look to it.

  20. Terri says

    I voted for #5. I like the darkening skies above the church and the ekg needle moving to flat. I think a photo of a church on the cover will grab the reader’s attention, then the title will pull them in. The image in #4 looked eerily like a KKK robe to me.

  21. Pastor Dennis says

    I immediately envisioned a church building in an OR with the roof opened by a huge pair of latex-covered hands. The title “Autuopsy of a Deceased Church” in bold type centered accross the top with “12 Ways to Keep Yours Alive” in bold italics illuminating from the inside (possibly framed in a heart). But….I chose #4 due to simplicity and contrast. Blessings!!

  22. says

    I chose #4. I really liked the image and conveyed a deceased church clearly to me. Although I had the image of the congregation coming in to “identify the church” and the medical examiner pulling back the sheet, only to find it’s NOT their church. And there was a big relief. (because they saw the warning signs and began to make critical changes).

  23. says

    I voted #4. I think it’s fitting that, since the book is about examining deceased churches, the cover should reflect that something has died. The fact that the shape underneath the sheet on the autopsy table resembles a church is icing on the cake and makes it the most fitting cover and the best artistic concept in my opinion.

  24. Derek says

    I voted for #1. I liked the simplicity of the cover and have significant criticisms about the others. #2 is too generic – a tag like that could also be a price tag or label on clothing, so doesn’t clearly have a connotation of death until you read the title. #3 and #4 bring up too many gruesome as-seen-on-TV images of blood, pale dead skin, etc. #5 looks like a lot of church books, and feels very generic.

    Having voted for #1, I still have a suggestion. I’d like to see two heart beats on the EKG line before it flatlines rather that just one. Two would more quickly give the visual of an EKG, as opposed to possibly just looking like a flourish on the cover.

  25. Corey Fontan says

    I chose #3. It shows the picture of the autopsy and points out that something must be done in order to save some churches. The unfortunate death of some, give hope to others.

  26. Charles Lord says

    chose #5. the church building with storm clouds with no community around it, and the doors closed convey a message. At the same time, the picture of the church building (to me) would otherwise be a positive association. I like #1 (red cover, flat line symbol). #2 seems too crass, and #3 and #4 too morbid. I read and shared your blog post on the autopsy. Thanks for addressing the Body with clarity, hope, grace, and with utter honesty.

  27. says

    I went with #5 because for me it was the most obvious. I really like #4, but it took a minute for me to understand that it was supposed be a church covered by a white cloth the way it would be at a morgue.

    Anyway, whatever the cover, I will definitely be buying this book.

  28. Dan Russell says


  29. Michael says

    I choose #3 with #4 a close second. I find #3 simple yet compelling. I appreciate your writing and am glad you are embarking on this endeavor.

  30. Robbie Perkins says

    I chose number five. As I looked at the choices, each of them has a feel of something unhealthy or dead. One and two were my least favorite. One easily gives the thought of life with the heart monitor line. Two seemed to me to be a tag on a dead body maybe. However, both felt a little plain to me and uninviting. Number four is kind of neat, but it didn’t get it at once, and I don’t think I would have if i hadn’t known what the title of the book was. It didn’t draw me in. Number three would be my second choice, but I felt like it was a but plain as well and just lacking something to catch you. Number five is clean and clear. The first thing I saw were the ominous clouds. They drew me in and said to me something is wrong. As they highlight the old church house it becomes obvious just what is wrong. The church building seems lifeless and a token of days gone by. I think it many people feel like this is their church even if their building is much newer. People will identify with this. It almost makes you hurt a little for it and want to see it restored and thriving. The color design is not overpowering but blends well, while remaining enticing as the light of the building contrasts with the dark clouds and the green grass brings a splash of color. I didn’t see the heart monitor flat line at the first glance, but at looking at it again it speaks of a lack of health and adds the touch similar to a well chosen accessory to match a lady’s outfit. I can’t wait to read it!

  31. says

    I like the image of the scalpel. While it is a tool necessary for an autopsy, it is also a tool necessary for surgery which often leads to restoration, as the subtitle suggests.

  32. says

    I voted for #3 but after reading the comments and realizing that it is a church under a shroud in #4, I like that one. But you need to make it pop more somehow. At first glance I can’t tell that it’s a church. I like the concept of #1 but am usually turned off by red books for some reason. #2 looks more like a Friday afternoon at a yardsale than an autopsy. I like 3. And I like 4 (if you make it stand out). #5 is slightly misleading. Just because a church is a small country church doesn’t mean that it’s a dead church. You’d need to make it more dilapidated to really show a dead church.

    No matter what cover you choose, though, I plan on purchasing this book. I loved the original articles and I’m interested in reading the more in depth explanation.

  33. says

    Overall, I selected #3. However, I think it would be more effective if you combined the toe-tag element as well (i.e. maintain the color scheme and look-and-feel of #3 while writing the title on the toe-tag). I am just afraid the scalpel alone could carry the idea of surgery as much as autopsy. I think #1 would be more appropriate for a “dying church” theme, rather than a deceased theme. I thought the color-scheme on #2 was too bright for the theme. I almost missed the church silouette on #4 until my 3rd look at it. Plus, the sheet almost had the feel of a bed sheet, rather than a coroner sheet. Finally, #5, with the dark clouds and ominous weather, looked more like a church in trouble than one that was already dead. Just my two cents.

  34. Paul Thomas says

    I chose #1 … It is the simplest of the groups, and with the vital sign, suggests that life is still possible. The rest of the covers do not have that same effect.

    Looking forward to reading the book when it comes out!

  35. says

    I chose cover #1 because it was a simple design, and can fit the desire of a book of Hope. I believe many of the other covers are more ominous, but #1 simple heart beat image reminds me that all is not lost.

  36. Michael Woodham says

    I voted for #2. It reminded me of a war zone and that there are so many deceased. They are only recognized by the “toe tag” that identifies them. We are in a spiritual battle and Satan is doing everything to close the doors of the churches that once shone the light of Christ.

  37. Cliff VanNostrand says

    I chose #4. Just as you have to lift the cover to begin the examination, you have to lift the cover to begin the book. It seemed to suggest that I was interacting with the book more than the other covers.

  38. Nick Horton says

    I voted #4. Number 3 might convey unwanted images with the scalpel, even though it’s a powerful metaphor. #5 might put off rural pastors. #1 just struck me as generic. #2 looks like its trying to be hip or catchy, which I don’t think is appropriate for the subject. I settled on #4, the draped sheet. Dignity in death of the beloved. Mourning. The seriousness of death and yet the respect due death. It personalizes the church which might engage a prospective reader to take this personally. IE, a church outline under the sheet could cause one to think; “That could be my church. I wonder how I can prevent that.”

  39. says

    I voted for #2 because I was visually drawn to it first. I could picture being in the bookstore and picking it up to see what it was about. Thank you for writing this book! So much of your blog posts on this topic puts into words what has been on my heart for several years concerning many churches, through my experience as a pastor’s wife for 12+ years. I am thankful for your time and effort into making this book a reality!

  40. Michael Sutherin says

    I started to go with the toe tag style of #2 but the more I thought about it, I chose #1…flat-lining. That sort of hit home with me.

  41. says

    I picked #5. I originally liked #1. #3 looks too budget, #4 reminded me too much of the sheets on a cover of a possible romance novel.

    #1 is more like “I’m classic like Tim Keller” and #4 is “I’m hip like Tim Chester”

  42. Rebecca Henderson says

    For me, the first one – the red got my attention immediately. The flat lined EKG (may not be the correct medical terminology) is a great visual and says it all. However, all of the covers are good, and I am anxiously awaiting the book release!

  43. Kelley Coppage says

    I selected number 3 because I like the subtlety of the design which makes the title stand out. Don’t need a picture of a church when it is in the title and there are so many different architectures of churches these days – it would tend to make the book seem dated. Look forward to reading.

  44. Tom Hocutt says

    I chose Number 1 because the red color will attract more people than the colors of the others and everyone will understand the “flat line.” I think as people browse books the red cover will attract more attention than the others. It is “eye catching.”

  45. Marty says

    I voted for #3 because a scalpel can be used both during an autopsy but also to do surgery that will save or improve a life — both of which your new book will do. The simplicity of the scalpel also would allow graphic artists to play with the design a little more (type, size, placement, colors etc).

  46. Don Henrikson says

    Chose #2 (toe tag). I was thinking it would be awfully handy if dead churches were so readily identified. Since that seems to be the goal of the book, it got my vote.

  47. Morris Johnson says

    I voted for #3 for several reasons: 1. It caught my eye (it would make me pick up the book for closer examination); 2. The scalpel is such a precision cutting instrument and reminded me of the cutting, penetrating, power of God’s Word; 3. the stark colors speak to the gravity of the situation in so many of our churches.
    I pray that God will use the information in this book to help many churches come to life once again.

  48. Ozzie says

    I voted #2 because the “toe tag” to me best epitomizes a dead church and is liable to draw the most attention on bookstore shelves.

  49. Bryan says

    I like #2 – as mentioned above, the color gives it enough “pop” and I think that would be a help to get someone to pause and take notice. The toe tag is a nice touch.

  50. Ginger Ilami says

    I voted for number 5! I’ve seen many if these kind of churches either abandoned or turned into something else. It makes me sad. The image is striking and evokes an emotional response. Draws me in.

  51. says

    I voted for number 3. I think it’s the most visually catching and clearly communiates the idea of an autopsy. The scalpel suggests dissecting–getting in there and figuring out what went wrong. Of the five, I think it’s the best choice.

  52. Adam Solorio says

    I’m looking forward to reading this book! As a graphic designer & writer I’m a book cover snob.
    #1 was too boring, #2 I liked but it wasn’t explicitly a toe tag until you read the title. #4 was confusing, I couldn’t figure out what it was and I’m afraid #5 is too generic, white noise, and could be any Christian book on the shelf. I voted for #3 because it was clean, simple, and had a sterile feel which clearly invoked an autopsy.

  53. Aaron Swain says

    My choice is #3.

    Though usually “less is more,” 1 is probably too plain to create much interest. It doesn’t seem very inviting to the reader. Besides the ekg line, the design doesn’t seem to complement the title and theme of the book very much.

    #2 is a great design, but not for this book. The color scheme and font choice is too chipper for a book about dead churches needing autopsies. Also, I did not immediately recognize this as a toe tag.

    #3 is my choice. The first image that comes into my mind whenever I think of “autopsy” is the scalpel. It brings about the sober reflection that this book demands. Perhaps incorporating the ekg line somewhere with red subtitle would also be helpful?

    #4 seems unclear to me. Is the church under the sheet? Was it previously on top of the sheet but now gone? Now that I look at it again, I see what you’re going for. But perhaps some greater contrast needs to be added to this picture to make sure people know exactly what it is.

    #5. Pictures of small country churches are overused for the covers of “church” books. Also, this church doesn’t communicate “death” enough. It looks old (historic?) but not dead. Many congregations have buildings in disrepair but are very much alive.

  54. LARISSA says

    I chose #2 just because when a book is on a shelf the color and picture are often what someone sees first.
    With that in mind, most people don’t pick up a book from a bookshelf initially for the content; the other covers seem a bit gloomy and no one really CHOOSES gloom over bright and cheerful. My philosophy about getting someone to do (or read) something they don’t necessarily want to do, is that it is all about the packaging!!

  55. Greg Salyer says

    I chose number 4. I had to determine what needed to be emphasized – the autopsy or the dead church. I felt either #4 or #5 emphasized the dead church more than the others. Number 3 definitely emphasized the autopsy. Number 2 just didn’t do anything for me. Number 1 is clean and relevant, but just doesn’t grab my attention. Number 4 seemed to illustrate a dead church in a unique way.

  56. says

    #4, It stimulates reflection. It causes you to linger and understand the meaning. I think this will catch people’s attention in a bookstore. The sheet covering lends to mystery about the church. Could this be my church under the sheet? This one also has some shock-factor to it.

  57. says

    At first I went with #1, but after reading comments & really looking closely at all the choices, I changed my mind. I don’t like #5 because it’s too much of a stereotype of a specific type church facility. I like #3 & #4, but #4’s type font didn’t grab me. Possibly combine the two.

  58. Bill Deitch says

    I chose #3. #5 was somewhat boring; it didn’t seem to invoke any thoughts other than a little church-house. #1, #2 and #4 all made me think bout the “deceased church”. #3 jumped out from the rest, as the scalpel immediately made me think of an autopsy. The book isn’t about the deceased church itself, it is the autopsy of the deceased churches. So it was an easy decision for me.

  59. says

    Yikes, looks like my choice is in the minority! I liked #1. What I see there reminds me of a plateau. Churches who have hit this point would seem to be in the most danger of “flat-lining”. (Also, I think the vibrant red offers a punch of excitement, as opposed to the other bland images, that convey a sense of hopelessness.)

  60. Debbie cade says

    I thought #1 would standout at a store better. It was clear and easy to know what the book was about.

  61. says

    I chose number five. I would make a change to the picture. I would put a wreath on the door that says “In memory of Our Church.” Then I would have a man and a woman on either side dressed all in black with their heads dropped. I think this cover carries the idea of your blog post.

  62. Brian B. says

    I voted number three. I actually like the look of number one, but I don’t think it conveys the message of the book. The flat line in one, the toe tag in three and the shroud in four all communicate the idea of death, but they don’t convey the idea that the book will be looking at the reasons behind the death. I also don’t think four is an appealing image. As one commenter said, it looked like the sheet had been under the church rather than over it. The image is difficult to make out. When I first looked at it, it looked like a depression. When I looked at it the second time, I could tell that the sheet was draped over the church building. Finally, I don’t think five works at all. The picture itself is somewhat generic. Also, if the book is supposed to be hopeful, the image does not convey hope. It conveys an image of an advancing storm which is certainly not hopeful. Of these five, I think three works best because it is the only image that conveys the idea that you are going to examine why death occurred. Also, the scalpel is a precision instrument that can be used to make very delicate cuts, yet is also versatile. While a scalpel is used on the dead to explore their body, it can also be used on the living to remove cancers and other unhealthy parts in a precise way that does not damage the parts of the body that need to remain.

  63. Darlene says

    I chose #3 (although it was a difficult choice between #2 and #3) because I liked the clean, simple, uncluttered look and because of the scalpel. The scalpel is subtle (I didn’t notice it at first), but is clearly symbolic of the work done in an autopsy and also of the surgery that may need to be done to avoid the autopsy and keep a church alive.

    Cover #3 also is consistent with previous designs. When I go to a book store to look for a book, I am always appreciative of authors who choose a consistent style for their covers because it causes their books to be easier to identify at a glance. If I know what book I want, then I want to find it quickly. Consistent design helps.

  64. Robert Cates says

    I chose #4 because it was the one the grabbed my attention first. It also brought about the thought of Jesus’ resurrection. The grave linens can be gone by the power of the Holy Spirit. If God has not written “Ichabod” over the door, there is always hope for resurrection. Maybe the last chapter in the book should be, “How To Raise The Dead Church” and also maybe that chapter could be made available, free of charge, to any Pastor who wishes to see God’s miracle power in the Church they pastor. Keep up the good work. As a Church Growth Consultant for Southern Baptist Churches, I love you research and writings.

    PS I came across somewhere in your research and writings the % of adults, by age group, that were Christians. Would you please put that in your daily email. T-H-A-N-K-s!

  65. Jake Sledge says

    I like #2 the best. It grabbed my attention the most and it is most appealing to me. The others are good too, but my preference is #2. It would catch my attention the most if I were scanning books on Amazon or on a shelf. Thanks!

  66. David (NAS) Rogers says

    I think # 4 conveys the idea of autopsy best. My more morbid imagination thought of a picture of a church with the roof opened and the pews being representative of ribs.

  67. Donna Thomisee says

    I voted for #1 because it gave the representation of a dying church but at the same time hope of coming back. Whenever you see this image on TV you always see a Doctor ready to use the paddles to bring the person back to life. In #1 I saw the hope of the Triune God ready with the paddles to bring the church back to life.

  68. Craig says

    3 and 4 are out because the scalpel was over the top and the covered church was too vague…had to think about what it meant. Both 1 and 2 are simple designs, not a negative, but as they say “a picture is worth a thousand words” so 5 combined simplicity with a picture that is very clear as to “what” the book is about.

  69. says

    #4 is a solid win for me. The church building under the sheet says it is dead, ready for burial & the autopsy is ready to begin. Clear, identifiable image!

  70. Chris says

    #4 is easily the strongest.

    1: Too cliche and overdone, unless it was a bit more clever by illustrating the EKG as a chapel, then a chapel without the cross/steeple, then flatlined. But that could be a bit of a stretch and seem too forced.

    2: A little cheesy with the stock photo. Toe tag may not be obvious to everyone, and some may first identify the tag more with a price tag and take longer to make the connection to tagging a corpse.

    3: Better, but the gradient might need a little work. Maybe a more flat steel surface texture would work better.

    4: Fantastic concept. The type will need some work though. Author name doesn’t feel ‘right’ at the upper right.

    5: Boring.

    I would recommend two additional directions to explore:
    1. Illustration of a church building during autopsy/dissection, with the walls splayed open and primary objects tagged/pinned (e.g. pews/chairs, pulpit, bible, piano/guitar, etc.). Perhaps an isometric or line-drawing style would work best.

    2. An illustration of a casket church building. Here is a rudimentary, very rough draft:

  71. Celia says

    I liked #1. The red would catch my eye on a bookstore shelf among all the other books. I also like the white writing on the red as it shows up the 12 ways to keep yours alive…it is a book about hope, right? The heart beat gives me the idea that you must take action before the church flat lines but there is a way to shock it back to life if it does.

  72. William says

    I chose number five. All of the other pictures represented illustrations of the subject, while number five seems to be more of a reality. The American church has become enamored with the “building church” rather than the people church, and to see a decadent and old traditional church building puts into perspective often what a dead church looks like. The storm clouds in the background also set the tone for the material that should be a tough pill to swallow for those that care about the bride of Christ. If we are going to talk about a tough subject like the death of the church, I think the most literal picture would serve the book the best.

  73. Kevin Rettig says

    While I also like #3 for its simplicity and the scalpel, I voted for #5 as the most effective cover. By moving the author name to the top in order to show the church surrounded by overgrown grass and weeds, adding old yellow tape to the door in an “X” and cosmetically ‘removing’ a board or two from the siding, one could better see this building as better representing the idea of death. Perhaps even a tombstone added to the photo could further emphasize that idea. Regarding the heart beat, why not add one or even two more beats before the flat-line, each of which could be smaller than the previous one and more space between the beats. Changing the line color to red would accentuate the heartbeat, implying a recent death.

    Regardless of the cover design you choose I look forward to reading this book, Dr. Rainer.

  74. says

    I chose cover #1 because:
    The red color is eye-catching, and we all know what a flatline denotes.
    Some people may not know that’s a cadaver’s toe tag (cover #2).
    Scalpels give me the shivers, and not in a good way (cover #3).
    Wrinkled sheets just look unkempt and unappealing (cover #4).
    Dark, stormy skies energize me, so it’s a disconnect with death for me (cover #5).

  75. Georgia Bamber says

    Choose # 2 because it was visually striking both due to colour (Canadian spelling”eh”) & the tag graphic. Tag graphic suggests a thorough, non biased examination would be done to see what could be learned.
    The “12 ways to keep…” stands out letting reader know there is a solution.
    In all other covers, “12 ways…” doesn’t stand out.
    Greyness of 3, 4 & 5 suggests a hopelessness.
    #4 & 5 might lead to the assumption” Of course it died. Old church didn’t keep up with the times. Probably filled with old people. No point in reading the book”

  76. says

    I chose #1. – It has a very simple uncluttered look. It drew me more to the book title. The others look nice but I felt I had to figure out the image first then the title.

  77. says

    For some reason I can’t see numbers 2 & 4. From the three I can see, I’d choose number five in concept. But I would rather see the image of the church be changed to something more people oriented. Maybe a graphic of a coffin being wheeled out the door of a church, or at a burial site. I only say this because we always fight the notion that the church is primarily a building. I think it may (subliminally even) detract from the end goal of the book if we depict it as a building. Just thoughts…

  78. Katie D. says

    I chose #2 – it stands out the most and is engaging. The others look like many other books I have seen on the shelves…

  79. Paul Piro says

    I voted for #1. I think they are all great covers but the first one seems to be the most eye catching. The flat line is the clearest example of death of all the images. It also could help point to the possibility of being revived.

  80. Stephanie Files says

    Number 3
    I’m sorry, until I read the comments I didn’t even realize that #2 was a toe tag. I wasn’t a fan of #4 at all. I liked 1 and 5, as well, but thinking back to when I worked at a LifeWay store a few years ago, I don’t think they would stand out on a shelf. #1 was definitely my runner up and was a pretty close call…

  81. Stephen Govett says

    I liked cover #3, The scalpel on the autopsy table is a great visual for the death of the church, or is it a scalpel on the operating table symbolizing some drastic life saving procedure? The image hints at death but also gives a glimpse of hope. Did not like #4 or #5 – I get the idea, but both churches looked like small country churches – easy to say yes but this could never happen to my church, because we are…. (not small, not rural, etc.)

  82. says

    I voted on 4 just wish there was more color to it… #5 reminded me up a church under a storm… #4 couldn’t get an visual imaginary from it. #2 was nit giving me the toe tag idea but more of a church garage sale and #1 looks cheap and cheesy …

  83. Alicia Lowery says

    First impression.. #1 caught my attention because of the red color and the flat-line. However the “12 Ways” didn’t stand out enough. #2 looks like a yard sale tag to me…so No. #3 is edgy (pun intended) and I kinda like it. #4 is not clear enough. It took me too long to figure out what it was. #5 could be misunderstood (Small church equals death? No.)… so I’m going with… #3… but I wonder if maybe you could add a flatline to underline the “12 Ways to Keep Yours Alive”.. with a bleep (squiggly line) near the word Alive… as a symbol of hope. Just a thought :)

  84. JB says

    I chose #3, in all honesty not knowing that was your choice (or the popular choice). I chose it because #1 looks like every other book cover, #2 had too many happy colors, #4 was good just not “clean,” and #5 was just depressing. While I liked #4, #3 is “clean,” unique, and is appealing in both Title and Cover.

  85. says

    I voted #3 since it hits on the theme of the title and presents an almost scientific/medical approach to the problem of preventing a church death. Also, I like the variation of color with the subheading jarring the viewer out of apathy into engagement with the concept that something can be done to prevent the withering of their local church.

  86. Lydia Patterson says

    I ultimately chose #5 because in this cover photo the church becomes reminiscent of a tombstone in a graveyard. I also really love the cardiogram flat line that divides the title from the subtitle. I really liked #3 as well, the scalpel just came off as scary. However, there are a lot of connections that could be drawn between the cutting of the scalpel, and the cutting that peels back layers to get to the heart of the problem. It is an excellent idea, the literal scalpel was just a bit much for me.

  87. Mike Morris says

    I was drawn to 1 & 4 to begin with. Thought about changing 4 to have a “Shroud of Turin” impression look. Decided on 5 because the old Church type seems to be what is dying. My personal thought is that many have become comfortable clubs for Christian to meet with Pharisee rules and doctrines, instead of reaching out to sinners with the gospel then training disciples to become “fishers of men”. So the old must die away or it must reach back 2000 years to become again, “The Way”.

  88. Tom says

    Apparently, in the minority, but I like # 5 for a number of reasons. First, the church building, particularly one like this is one of the first images that comes to mind when people hear the word church. It also signifies the church who remains in the “good ole days”. Second, the single entrance and no windows depicts a church with no perspective of the world around them, so like many churches today. This is further emphasized by the idea that the church building is in an isolated area, removed from the mainstream of life. The relative lack of color, to me implies lack of life and vitality and portrays a sense of despair and almost hopelessness. Finally, there are the storm clouds. They depict the potential for turbulence danger, destruction and even death if violent enough. Unfortunately, many churches, don’t take the storm warnings serious until it is too late.

  89. Lin Carpenter says

    I voted for #1. Liked the title graphic of #5 but not the photo of the church. The church reminds me of all the small churches that were built out of love of Jesus. They were the backbone of the mega churches we see today. The Godly people who sweated, labored, cooked for the workers, and they actually built those buildings to have a House of Worship. They sang the old dear hymns and rocked the babies in the pews at services. Then went home amd worked the land. They built a firm foundation for their families.

  90. says

    I voted for #3 because it appealed the most to me right off the bat. I think most pastors would be enticed by the cover because of the bold black print on a white background and the scalpel doesn’t hurt at all (hunting, reality TV shows, etc). #2 and #4 don’t impress me at all. They look like books that came out of the 90’s. I liked #5 at first but I think that is because I’m a pastor. Many people are turned off by the traditional church and the traditional building so they might be turned away quickly by the sight of the church and formulate assumptions (the wrong ones) about the book right away. I liked #1 because of the color scheme and the flat line of the heartbeat. However, I went with #3 because it was simpler and the red subtitle catches your attention with the black and white color scheme. I’m no marketing guru but that is just my opinion as a pastor. Whatever the selection, I will be purchasing the book as our church is in decline and in need of revitalization soon.

  91. arlene says

    AS we know the church is nothing but the called out people (no buildings) I would like to see some persons losing their grave clothes not sure how to draw it .
    I would entitle COME FORTH!
    12 ways to call life back into the church

  92. says

    #2 jumped out at me with the right combination of color, font, and tag picture. I would assume that the author wants to use the cover to not only convey the theme and content of the book, but also to reach out and grab the reader’s attention. As always, first impressions do count. Just like in churches! If one combines a good first impression with solid content, you have a winner. Just like in churches! #2 is my vote.

  93. Michelle Carter says

    #3 was the one that made me think of an autopsy. My second choice would have been #1. The others just didn’t get my attention

  94. says

    I chose #5 because it really was the most eye catching and the photo says “dead church” very well. Many of us know of actual church buildings that look like that. Those old run down buildings harken back to a time when the church actually had some level of influence in the community. Now it is just a relic of the past. It’s almost haunting. #4 came in close second because it is simple and I like the imagery, very clever. The scalpel is just a bit too creepy for me in # 3. The whole cover just rubs me the wrong way for some reason. I really liked the looks of #2, it is very eye catching. But that is down the list for me, because while I did catch that it is supposed to be a “foot tag” of a deceased person, I’ve seen similar tags used for other things. I just suspect that there could be quite a few people who just don’t quite get it. #1 is strait forward and simple, but a bit too bland. There is just something about an illustrative cover of a book that makes me feel better about reading (its stupid I know) but #1 just doesn’t do that for me.

  95. says

    I picked #1 because it resembles the hospital and a patient hooked up to a heart machine. Those machines reveal life in the patient. It sounds like this book will help churches look at a church heart machine. I’m looking forward to when this book comes out. I’ll buy it, read it, and review it on my own blog.
    God bless. Grace and Peace.

  96. says

    I chose 5 because of what it is. As I ride around this country, I see dead churches: churches with a roof caved in, churches with windows busted and missing, churches with vines, shrubbery, and undergrowth taking over! Churches that look more like haunted houses than churches.

    At first I thought the contest was offering design tips, and number 5 is close to what I had in mind. The only change I’d made to the cover of number 5 is to superimpose a tombstone over the church! Grey skies are perfect! Church is old and run down!

  97. Yvette says

    I chose #3. I thought the choice of the surgical instrument visually matched the word Autopsy to made a direct connection to the subject of the book. And the words in red also indicate life (as in blood). It would make me look at the book should I see it in a store display.

  98. Coby Goins says

    I chose #2 because you cannot see what church the tag is attached to. A church building may look good on the outside, but inside it could be dying. As with people, it is something on the inside that kills us. The same is with the church, it is something that happens on the inside that leads to death. Not seeing what the toe tag is attached to lets the reader know that it’s not a certain type of church that dies, but that any church could eventually die and that these 12 ways can keep that from happening.

  99. Cheston Pickard says

    I chose #1 because it POPS! A red book with a flatline on a heart monitor. How easy is that to look for in a bookstore, preferably LIfeway Christian Bookstores of course?!?! Also, how fitting of a symbol to put on a book about Church death. Really, that is all that needs to be said! It’s a clean design and it stands out from the rest of the pack with the dull colors which mix into the other 10,000 church life books out in the world! The others scream SURGERY!, NAMETAG!, and CHURCH’s WHO NEED A STORM SHELTER!!!!

  100. t miller says

    I would agree with #3 voters that the scalpel indicates an investigation into the cause of death (maybe a few embellishments from CSI would help). I thought the EKG wave would’ve been classier if it resembled a church outline… I think the best would’ve been a casket with a mirror in it?

  101. Katherine says

    Without a doubt – cover #2 is my choice. Before people will buy a book, they have to first be interested in it enough to take a closer look at it. I worked in a Christian bookstore for many years, and spent much of my time merchandising the books. Thinking back on all the books I’ve seen, cover #2 grabs my attention, and peaks my curiosity more than any of the others. Graphically speaking, the composition is good, it has a bold eye-catching font, and good color and texture. Cover #5 is my least favorite, mainly because it reminds me of the Bible Expositor and Illuminator covers that many church members and church staff will be familiar with. Covers #3 and #4 are styles that I associate with murder mystery fiction novels, and graphically, the title of #4 is too low; it does fit in the center of the frame of the church, but overall it just doesn’t work because the title appears to be falling off of the page. If I had to pick a runner-up, I would reluctantly choose #1, but I believe strongly that cover #2 will grab the attention of more people than any of the others, both on a bookshelf and online. Hope that helps!

  102. John says

    I think the font on #3 is the best, but the graphic elements don’t have anything suggestive of a church. Suggestive of an autopsy, yes, though the stainless steel table seems so subtle as to be easily missed. #4 is my choice, but as others have noted, the shroud over the “patient” is a little obscure. If the picture was from an angle, perhaps of the church, on the table, with the shroud over it, perhaps with the “tools of the trade” visible, it would resolve some of the obscurity.

  103. says

    I voted 5. It shows the desolation of the church in its deceased disposition. Yet it shows the pulse which communicates an element of hope. Best one, by far!

  104. Tommy Perry says

    I chose number four because the white sheet over the church building shows that the “body” is about to be carried away for further examination to determine cause of death. In my opinion it carries a greater weight about death than the others. Thanks for the opportunity to receive resources that give us more understanding of the American church culture and ways we can implement change that advances God’s kingdom.

  105. Hope Hall says

    I am choosing cover #1 because we know God gives every church a heart beat when He breaths life in our churches, however, many decide to flat line in their fellowship with Jesus Christ. I think this cover is symbolic of where many our churches in America are today spiritually.

  106. says

    I voted #5 – As a pastor, the picture of an actual church hit me hardest. This cover says, “Stormy times…the condition is bleak…no one has kept up with it…faded paint…dead shrubs…closed doors…what more speaks of a irrelevant church. Great choices to pick from though.

  107. Tristan says

    Number 4 just feels right. The others didn’t seem to have the same pizzaz, though the big red cover was certainly eye-catching.

  108. Connie Tull says

    I voted for #2, this is exactly the tool used to do an autopsy, and it is the kind of tool we need to use to look deep inside a church and find where the disease started and how it did spread over the body of the church that led it to a decease. I think it will catch the eye of the reader, wondering the problems and seeking for directions to avoid the situation.

    • Connie Tull says

      Sorry, I put the wrong number on my comment but I voted for cover #3, this is exactly the tool used to do an autopsy, and it is the kind of tool we need to use to look deep inside a church and find where the disease started and how it did spread over the body of the church that led it to a decease. I think it will catch the eye of the reader, wondering the problems and seeking for directions to avoid the situation.

  109. says

    I liked #4 because I think that the emphasis should be on “deceased church” as opposed to “autopsy.” “Autopsy” should be secondary. #1 is interesting but not specific enough to give the impression of “deceased church.” Some people may think that it’s a mystery novel or something. #2 is also interesting but it could be a tag to anything. The tag would need to be around a toe or something to give the more obvious “dead” or “morgue” impression. #3 is also interesting but the scalpel can make some squeamish (not me). #5 is too generic. Okay, it’s a church in a storm, but that doesn’t mean that it’s dead. #4 gives the more complete impression of a “deceased church” which is on the table about to get an autopsy.

  110. says

    I went with number four as I believe it best conveys the seriousness of the topic. Number three is fairly compelling though with the scalpel image (a necessary tool for an autopsy). Number five is too generic, unfortunately (at first glance it looked like a recently released biography of Hudson Taylor). Number two would have been really strong had it been styled after a tag that appears on a body bag (something like this: Either way, I’m looking forward to reading the book!

  111. Adam says

    I prefer, and hence, voted for #3. That cover encompasses the dissecting nature of an autopsy, which points to the nature of the book mostly clearly from the choices. It seems Rainer desires to take apart the deceased churches, to find a cause(s).

  112. says

    I chose number 2 because I thought the toe tag and “Autopsy” flowed perfectly together. This cover makes sense to me, I would buy it for sure! Although, I have a feeling I will buy this book no matter what the cover looks like :-)

  113. LaStassia says

    I chose 3 because the scalpel makes it look as if you are getting ready to conduct an autopsy. You are cutting through the layers trying to see why it actually died

  114. Jim says

    I chose # 5 I feel it reflects that some churches are isolated from the rest if society. It is those churches that are about I experience the storms that the clouds in the background suggest are coming.

  115. R Letourneau says

    Cover #1 !!! The RED BOOK COVER just jumps out at you and begs to be picked up. It really stands out because of the RED, but also because I can see within seconds what the book is about, and that captivates and intrigues me. The flatlining heart rhythm caught my attention quickly, as it indicated the Battle going on between life and death…in this case of our churches. I also find RED to be prvocative, to stir emotion and to cause one to take notice. It’s gotta be cover # 1 !!!!

  116. says

    I chose #5. I think alot of folks still think of the church with the old traditional building, old traditional ways , old traditional rules and sort of write off any significance for their lives there. Purely asthetically speaking, I would want the book to have more visual appeal than choice 1 or 3 with a variety of colors in both. I would ultimately like to see some more color in #5 as well but love the looming clouds overhead, great picture. Praying for the rest of the process and looking forward to the material.

  117. Mary says

    I voted for #2 as it reminded me of a toe tag used to identify the deceased (in this case a church). It caught my eye and stood out from the other covers. I think if I saw it in a bookstore, I would be compelled to go pick it up and see what it was about. A cover of a book should be visually interesting while relating to the storyline or message found inside the book. I feel #2 does this for your book.

  118. Park says

    Number 2 in a landslide…better font, better concept, better format, better use of space. And the notion of a toe tag tied to the dead body is stellar.

  119. says

    i voted for number 1, many likes no 3 but as the author want to bring hope to the readers, the no 1 cover will convey a message of life running. that means there is a resurrection possible after autopsy and also the underline message is 12 ways to keep your alive is perfectly fitting for the no 1 cover.

  120. says

    I voted for #2 I felt like it was simple, communicated the purpose & seriousness of the book, and will stand out on bookshelves.

    1. Too generic, plus heart beat plus being blood red communicates life, not death.

    3. Just a scalpel just does not capture the seriousness of the situation. In fact, makes me think more about a high school science project, not the seriousness and finality of death.

    4. My second favorite, but implies traditional churches are the only ones at risk.

    5. Same as 4, that it appears by the cover that only small rural churches should be concerned.

  121. Michael Osweiler says

    I voted for #5 as it seems to me a lot of small churches are dying and the small one room church seems most appropriate for a cover. Especially with the countryside in the back ground under dark stormy skies.

  122. Alan Pittman says

    I chose 5 because it is a good image of a church that is dying or has died. It reminds me of the country church that I pastored and then it ended up dying years later because of a dying community. But, many of our churches are dying even in highly populated areas too.

  123. says

    I voted for #3 because in each church it is crucial to cut in and view what caused the churches death. Once you figure out the cause then we hopefully can use that information to have healthier churches for the Kingdom.

  124. says

    I chose number 2. Not because I am a coroner or anything but feel it best represents an autopsy and a way for us to review Church in order to continue checking ourselves to Scripture since we won’t always get it right.

  125. Andy Graham says

    I chose # 4, because it caused me to pause to reflect on what was intended. I then realized it was the outline of a church (covered by a sheet). I then thought it was clever. Since you hope a book cover will “grab the reader’s attention” and lead to examination , I felt this was the obvious choice. My second choice was #3, then 2, 5, and 1. #1 was too ordinary (in my humble opinion).

  126. says

    I prefer #2.
    Here are the positives:
    A hospital blue colored sheet, not just a white sheet.
    They did a great job with the font and the black ink.
    Thom Rainier is the authority – the autopsy doctor.
    As others have pointed out, this big title really gets people’s attention. This is important on websites that display multiple book covers in small image formats.

    At first glance, I didn’t know what kind of tag this was.

    Here are the reasons why I didn’t choose one of the other covers:
    #1 This color makes me think of blood, which is a slight turnoff for me.
    There’s not much of a “story” in the graph. It looks like one strong heartbeat, then death.

    #3 Imagery of cutting into a body may be too clinical and morbid, even if this is indirectly implied in the word “autopsy.”
    I prefer a focus on why churches die (the autopsy findings) than on how doctors perform autopsies (a scalpel).

    #4 This brings to mind for me a cardboard cutout under a sheet. Also, I agree with those who say it looks KKK-ish.

    #5 Is an autopsy needed for this one? Where’s the town? Also, sometimes with these old churches, the congregation has just moved to a new building.
    Also, the problem is no longer just in rural churches, but everywhere – even in places where the population is growing.

    Considering that Christians want to learn about the autopsy findings, perhaps you should consider the possibility of depicting an autopsy report folder on the cover. There may be no clear winner here.

  127. Jonathan Shell says

    The one with the church seems like I have seen it before. The others seemed a little bland and the one with scalpel was a little much. I think the “toe tag” #2 is a good cover and an eye catcher.

  128. Ben Thorp says

    I voted for #2.

    #1 didn’t really grab me, #3 felt overly macabre, and #5 just didn’t feel like it conveyed the title well – perhaps a church that was more boarded up would’ve been better. (Also, coming from a UK perspective, you don’t really see any churches like that here at all).

    #4 is interesting – at first glance through I didn’t notice the outline of the church underneath the sheet, but now that people have mentioned it, it would certainly be my second favourite.

    In some ways it would be nice to include a toe for the toe-tag to be on in #2. Certainly I prefer the font on #2 to any of the others, which all feel a little too plain.

  129. says

    I voted for #4. I like that you can’t tell at first glance exactly what is under the sheet because – really – the church is not a building, it’s the people. It’s a cover you have to look at a few seconds longer than the others to grasp the concept, and by that point, your interest is piqued and you’re picking the book up off the shelf to read the back cover. There’s a bit of a mystery here and that makes me curious about it!
    Other reasons why #4 was compelling to me over the others – as someone who has had a loved one autopsied, the knife was a little too much. The toe tag made me initially think “craft sale”, the flatline is too obvious, and the old church building in front of the thunderstorm was actually too pretty… thunderstorms are some of God’s most incredible works of art!

  130. Charles Kreger says

    I voted for #5 but last week, I drove by a vacant church outside of Golden, CO. with a for sale sign hammered into the ground in front of the building. Weeds had grown up high around the entrance. It looked abandoned. All around it, traffic was bustling by as people went about their daily lives, rushing to meet their next obligation. The image immediately caused me to pause and wonder if the church family outgrew the facility and moved to a larger campus? But, then I dismissed that thought with the reasoning that a vibrant people would not forget their beginnings, the small things that brought them together in the first place. My mind immediately went to an alternate theory that maybe people were misguided to follow someone who was really not called to lead a church but instead was attempting only to run a business. I wondered what decisions the church leaders could have made or not made that allowed the interest simply to fade away. Did the people never really care for one another? While I was not aware of your next book title at the time, I think that image of the church building, abandoned and for sale, would make a compelling cover, as it evoked a multitude of spontaneous questions in my mind as I passed it.

  131. Bruce Morrison says

    Number 5 would be good if the church building was looking broken down and dying. Right now it just looks too pretty to be a dying church, however, that may be the problem with dying churches, they don’t appear to be dying until the last breath. Perhaps a picture of an obvious church building being used for another purpose. I know of a cafe in Washington, D.C. that is in an old church building and I saw the same type of thing all over Europe. Number 3 reminds me of an autopsy with the scalpel.

  132. says

    I actually like #4. Every time you pass a wreck, sadly it is what you look for. I think if you added the toe tag to it it would make it even more obvious.It would definitely would make me stop and look at the book.

  133. Roxanne Nanney says

    I had trouble deciding between the toe-tag and the sheet. Settled on the toe tag. Wish you could combine the two….

  134. says

    I voted for #5, even though I also really liked #2 and #4. While 2&4 highlight the “deceased” part of the book, I think it could turn some people off. #5 highlights the “church” part really well; and the ominous clouds hint at the trouble brewing.

    My guess is the intended reader for this book is a church that is dying, not one already gone; so the scary clouds would be a better fit for their current experience.

  135. Sherry Lindsey says

    Because I’m a visual learner, I voted for #2, where the image of a “toe tag” immediately entered my mind. It made me think, “If a church coroner could put toe tags on deceased churches, what would the church in America look like?” Sobering thought. I believe the visual that this cover gives will stand out on bookshelves, and it accurately reflects the intended meaning of the title.

  136. Ross Parmly says

    Design #4 is the most successful at visualizing each element in the book’s title. Unlike the other concepts, which I quickly glanced over, the fourth caused me to linger for a few moments. The themes of death and diagnosis are immediately made clear through the color scheme and depiction of an autopsy table. But it’s not until you spend a few moments with the cover that you realize it’s actually a church building lying dead under the sheets. The design is simple and striking; just what you need for a great book cover.

  137. Jenny Riddle says

    My vote was for #5, but #2 was a close second. The first one was a bit boring and textbook like. I felt like #3 and #4 were very clinical looking and, in all honesty, kind of gave me the creeps. The imagery was very literal for an autopsy, and although we have been accustomed to such by shows like CSI, it’s not something I want to think about when considering “hope” for a prosperous church. #2 was still linked to the idea of an autopsy without being overly dramatic or creepy. The colors were bright and inviting, and the fonts gave the cover a more modern look. Ultimately, though, I chose #5 because the green, living grass seemed so juxtaposed to the dark and looming clouds overhead. I felt this imagery better suited the book’s subtitle and desire to give hope to churches who are struggling and who need to overcome sicknesses within. I would, however, have liked it much better had the font been more “modern”. Currently, it is less appealing to me personally with the boxed-off text and Times-New Roman-esque font.

  138. Jonathan Brazell says

    Personally, I believe the symbolism in the imagery of option #4 works well with the title of the book. Not in the sense of that an autopsy is “being” performed, but that you desire for an autopsy to take place. The viewer can tell what is under the blanket…but why? Why does the image of the ‘deceased’ Church appear on the cover? It naturally creates an attitude of curiosity and invokes a desire to dive into the symbolism. Certainly, I understand the “flatlines” in the other pictures, and I think that the blade works as well, but these leave avenues for other inferences. The knife could represent surgery, the flatlines something that is dying or just died, but the sheet takes the guesswork out and drives the thought. All good designs, but option #4 has my vote.

  139. Stephanie says

    Some of the options were a bit creepy. The green with the tag is fresh. Easy to look at. Inviting.

  140. Donny says

    The two that stood out to me the most were #1 and #3. I simply pictured myself walking through a book store and decided those two would catch my immediate attention before the others due to the font and the design. The others seemed like they would just fall into the abyss of other book covers and get lost in my eyes (which are not well trained I might add)! As for why I chose #1, it reveals the struggle often associated with a church’s declining health and quite frankly any church (the ups and downs), it reveals the final results if nothing is done to change the health of a church (flat line), and finally the title/subtitle give the reader hope that just because a church is dead it doesn’t mean you have to bury it. There is hope, there is help, and here’s how!!!! The cover doesn’t have too much on it, the background doesn’t take away from the text, and the coloring of it all helps maximize the effectiveness of every aspect (the background, the flat line, the title/subtitle)! God bless you for your ministry to churches!

  141. says

    I vote #2 – like the Toe tag – BUT I WOULD OFFER AN OPTION #6: A picture of an old run down church with a Death Certificate attached showing all the vital information: Birth Date / Death Date / Time of Death / and Cause of Death … Death certificates serve as the official record of death. The person reporting the death is the one who fills out and signs the certificate. The certificate contains the decedent’s full name, date of birth, date of death, location of death and manner of death. Other identifying information such as address may be included. Some death certificates list more than one reason for the death in the order of the most prominent cause down to the least.

  142. says

    I really like cover # 4, which features a church building covered in a shroud. It is visually striking in several ways.

    First, and most obviously, the church building is covered in a shroud, just as the body of a deceased person is covered upon death. This is a naturally disturbing image, because it suggests that the congregation covered by the shroud is completely deceased. And none of us wants our congregation to be pronounced “deceased.”

    There is a second reason the image is very striking, however. In “mainline” denominations, the cross located on the altar at the front of the sanctuary is covered with a shroud during the Good Friday service, symbolizing the fact that, following the crucifixion, Jesus was placed in a tomb, covered with a shroud, and hidden from view. This is a very disturbing service for many who attend, knowing that the cross will remain covered as they depart the sanctuary following the service. However, on Easter Sunday morning, that shroud is pulled away in the service of resurrection, and the entire congregation exults in the cross being visible once again, which of course symbolizes Jesus’ coming out of the tomb. In this respect, while cover # 4 is very striking and disturbing, it is no more disturbing than Good Friday, which is followed by Easter Sunday. In other words, even though a congregation may appear to be near death – or may even be covered by a shroud – there is hope for resurrection!

    So, I like cover # 4 before it is very striking, very confrontational, and it also has this sort of double-meaning.

  143. Tammy Derryberry says

    Numbers 1, 2 and 5 initially caught my eye. But after taking a closer look, #5 incorporates the flatline that I liked on #1 so that was the extra nudge I needed to select 5 as my favorite. I imagined walking through Lifeway (not hard to imagine, was just there Monday, see my twitter picture of Mandisa’s prebuy!). I tried to look at the choices collectively and see which one would catch my eye. I would assume that the likely target group for this book would be those who belong to churches that are not thriving and adding younger couples – which would be my age group and older, so I took into account which cover would appeal to this bracket. I also think #5 better reflects the serious nature of dying churches. In the recent past, my church downsized and moved and my mother’s church was closed and the congregation merged with another church. Churches in our area of the Bible belt are many, but they are often on life support, clinging to every breath while the members refuse to acknowledge a DNR. I look forward to this information and I think it will be well-received no matter which option ultimately graces the cover.

  144. says

    By your own description this book is about hope for a renewed life. Number 1 is the only cover that still has a heartbeat, a chance to recover, and a promise of potential recovery. Let the cover suggest the person reading this book still has time to make a difference in their church.

  145. says

    I chose 1 since it looks eye-catching, and in my opinion gives us hope that we can still save dying churches. It’d be great to win the $100 so I can buy my Fall semester textbooks at LifeWay!

  146. Nikole M says

    #1 is very bold and dramatic. It catches my eye right away and would be easy to recognize from a distance.

  147. says

    I chose #3. It appeared to be the most clinical looking cover. * A short, red, heartbeat (that shiny, red, foil-type process), after the word “ALIVE” would serve as a nice point of interest, drawing the scanning eye to the line that sells the book. The main title presenting the crisis, the subtitle, the solution. Also, I like how you effectively differentiated the font of the sub-title, choosing a sans serif. * I don’t know whether the scalpel was intentionally photographed as to appear non-reflective?, but the barest glint, if only on the bevel of the blade, imho, would help visually highlight the contrast between death and life, the sliver of the blade, and the sliver of heartbeat.

    Why not these?
    #1 Was my second choice, but I think the left alignment of #3 is more suggestive of a medical report. Center aligned – a story or manual about autopsy; Left aligned – an autopsy report.
    #2 I like the concept, but, the toe tag looks too crowded.
    #4 Last choice. It was a long time before I realized I wasn’t looking at some sort of apron, lol.
    #5 The double-lined, centered frame does make it look to me like a novel. (I believe another commenter brought this up, as well.) Also, I do love the photo of the church, however, the angle it’s shot at makes it look looming and strong, rather than weak, fragile, dead.

    May God strongly bless your efforts in caring for His Church! Shalom.

  148. Tim says

    #1 is my choice. Red stands out. Grey covers tend to blend in. The EKG is also a striking image. God bless you for all your work for His Church!

  149. Robert Ivey says

    Cover number 1 would be my choice.
    Several reasons:
    1. The “Red” cover catches attention much quicker than the others (you are more knowledgeable about the psychology behind that than I am).
    2. The “Flat-line” graphic is associated with death.
    3. It is less “Busy” than the other covers (numbers 2 & 4 the title and other information get lost in the cover).
    4. It is simplistic in nature, which I like for a topic of this importance.

  150. Allen Reger says

    I think #3 most immediately and starkly pictures an autopsy. I think #5 is my runner up. #1 is too plain, though I like the combination of the EKG flat line and an old, closed church building (a provocative image) on #5. It took me a while to get #2’s image as a tag (though that probably says more about me than the cover design). #3 is alright, but I don’t really like the outline of a church building; it’s just not as immediately and starkly provocative of an autopsy.

  151. Mark Alexander says

    I voted for #2. This is like the tag which is tied to a deceased person which has a sent of something already being dead about it.

  152. Walt says

    I vote for number 1. There is a lot left in churches if they would be jolted awake to truly become the body of Christ much like a heart that is flat lining. With the right shock a heart and church can be awakened to pump living blood again.

  153. Devin says

    I picked cover #1. Red is attractive and it communicates the message of the title better than the others. The 2nd cover is too dull of a color and will be less likely to be picked up off of a shelf. The last cover has a church on the front and that’s just too cliche. Pick the red cover. Everyone likes red books. Hope the message gets out there! It’s an important one!

  154. Gerald Hinson says

    1 and 4 seem to match the title best. 2 is a cool idea, but it took me a bit to realize this was a “toe tag” so I would guess this will not grab attention that well. I think 4 will grab attention via the image and the title will then answer the question in the potential reader’s mind. Even this one I think could be more obvious though. Perhaps a body under the sheet with a church building head…?

    I vote for 4.

    Best of luck with the book. Sounds interesting.

  155. says

    There are two images that convey the reality of an autopsy: an autopsy report and a photo of the scene of medical examiner’s over a corpse thatcan be the remmnants of a church building as if after a tornado.
    In the first one, some kind of paper formulary should be in the background with some checks nder some categories sucha as… Cause of death, time, etc.
    In the second one, suitable for a very complelling image, some robbed figures and lay ones should be standing around the table looking for explanations about the death of a formerly alive Church or as mentioned roaming around the remnants of a dstroyed building.
    The tittle is evocative, the messae is actual. The cover should be direct and clear not figured.let us know the publication date and get it done for Kindle.

  156. says

    #1. The flat line is way to representative of the spiritual brain activity in too many churches. This book, with some courageous readers, may allow for some much needed defibrillating rescue.

  157. Derek says

    My thought… I love the tag on #2. I think the tag would do well with the scalpel lying next to it on a stainless steel tray. That would really give a great visual to the autopsy theme. If given a straight up choice, I think #2 is the best. It may be a bit too edgy, but I can’t get the idea of a small church on a tray with the steeple cut off, lying next to a scalpel on the tray. Just my thoughts…

  158. Curtis Starner says

    I voted for #1, but since it’s 12 ways to keep your church alive, the line should show a heartbeat on the right side of the cover!

  159. Sonja Brown says

    Of the options, I chose #2, even though some may not instantly associate the “toe tag”. I think the color in the background sort of psychologically breathes life into the subject and supports the sub-title; ways to keep your church alive. It goes beyond the diagnosis of a how a church expired to how a church can come to life and renewal. It speaks of a church moving from grave dwelling to grace dwelling.

  160. Bill Gohmert says

    I chose #2 because the toe tag is the most serious and identifiable part of an autopsy. The other covers have some representation of trying to keep a church alive, but most readers, especially pastors, have become so desensitized to most “here’s the latest from the most famous” author, that we sometimes pass up a great book just by the cover. The toe tag, at least for me, provides enough fear factor that provokes thought and attention. In fact, the tag might be smaller to better identify it as attached to the victim. Of course, we know that God’s Church will never die, but many are being killed by codependent relationships between pastors and congregations. I look very forward to the book. Thank you…

  161. Paige Robinson says

    voted #4 …most recognizable of the 5 as conveying death…immediate and would pique my curiosity
    #1- only words…if “simple” or “basic” were part of the title of a book, the simplicity would be appropriate, I think
    #2- wasn’t immediately aware it was a toe tag
    #3- would be my second choice
    #5- doesn’t convey death, necessarily

  162. Ryan says

    My vote is #4: a little eerie. A little subtle. Others don’t necessarily communicate death. Also the sheet is a little more cross culturally applicable because covering bodies is a common practice; whereas the building of certainly isn’t and the others could communicate so many different things visually. The subtle vagueness of 4 allows for the idea of the book to remain a point of curiosity for the reader.

  163. says

    I voted #1 because:
    1. Red gets attention as in “Stop and look!”
    2. The “flat-line” quickly sums up the theme and is eye catching
    3. When i see a flat-line, my first intuition is to restart it.
    4. Flat-lines can be revived if action is taken promptly
    5. Simple, non-clutered, easy & quick to get theme
    6. Love the expressed analogy, and subliminal of blood of Christ

  164. Elli Melbourne says

    Perfect imagery of a church in a bygone era, where once people sang hymns in pews and celebrated church life, it now cries out  for a sheppard to blow open the door and find the lost sheep.

  165. Heather Carroll says

    I really like the shrouded church idea; however, having a more defined steeple underneath the shroud would have made it stand out a little more.

  166. Lewis says

    Before seeing any of the covers I visualized something like number one but by comparison it seemed a bit plain. Number 5 is too pretty/artsy IMHO, number 4 is clever but bland, number 3 makes me too nervous, but I believe number 2 has it all: simplicity, color, memorable format, and easy to read/understand the play on words. Number 4 has the best overall appeal for such a serious subject.

  167. Elli Melbourne says

    # 5 – Perfect imagery of a church that now looks like it’s from a bygone golden era, where once people sang hymns in pews, baptized and celebrated church life, but today is lost in its landscape. With the soon downpour of rain, there’s also the promise of sunshine to follow, where patiently it hopes for a Sheppard sojourning through the meadows looking for his lost sheep, awaiting redicovery and a new glorious era ahead again.

  168. Thom Rainer says

    The winners of the autographed books are:
    Ben Thorp
    Beth Viera
    Mike Leake
    Aaron Swain

    The grand prize winner was:
    Christopher Bennett

  169. says

    Thank you very, VERY much, Dr. Rainer and “Team Rainer” (Jonathan, Amy & Amy)!

    *I’m already looking forward to your next book: “Code Blue in the Pew! – A Care & Resuscitation Protocol for the (Spiritually) Cyanotic Saint” *wink*

  170. Ramon Antonio says

    Among the few alternatives I select the blanket covering a recognizable silhouette as that of a typical suburban temple because it reminds of that what we see is not allways what we get. I don’t know if anyone is familiar with a curious funeral parlor in Puerto Rico which has become world famous for “displaying’ the corpses of dead people in their living attitude. It is grotesque. But some people actually pay for that kind of service for their deceased.

    Similarly, some Christians attend service “as if” they were actually “ïn” the service but neither the person or the parish are alive.

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