Saturday, August 11, 2007

Book Review: Transforming Church

The question needs to be asked: How can church leaders go about transforming church so that it can be a transforming church? Ask another way: What needs to be changed about the church within so that it can become a change agent without?

Kevin Ford gives his answer to these questions in Transforming Church. Ford, based on his work as a church consultant, has developed a Transforming Church Index that measures five key indicators of church health. The premise is that church health, not church growth, is the primary indicator of a church’s ability to transform its members, fulfill its mission, and reinvent itself. Ford’s book guides leaders in how to measure their church health and how to become more healthy in each area.

The five key indicators of church health are given as:
1) Consumerism vs. Community – How church members relate to each other. Unhealthy churches are a collection of individuals acting individually, while healthy churches relate as a community.
2) Incongruous vs. Code – The church’s “genetic code”. Unhealthy churches lack a clear identity, while healthy churches have a clear sense of their DNA and take steps to align their ministries and culture with their code.
3) Autocracy vs. Shared Leadership – How the church leadership functions. Unhealthy churches tend to be overly autocratic or bureaucratic, while healthy churches view leadership as a shared function and as a ministry.
4) Cloister vs. Missional – How the church relates to the local community. Unhealthy churches disengage from the world around them, while healthy churches are focused on their mission and have an outward orientation.
5) Inertia vs. Reinvention – How church members think about the future. Unhealthy churches resist change and fear the future, while healthy churches embrace change, even when it is painful.

The next to last paragraph reads, “Is your church ready for change? Are there problems that need to be addressed? If you have the courage to face the adaptive issues, the tenacity to deal with inevitable resistance, and the humility to ask for God’s help, then be assured: Your church can and will be transformed into the image of Christ – one step at a time.”

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