Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Leading Turnaround Churches - Book Review

This is a 167 page book written by Gene Wood in 2001. It is an easy read filled with practical insights. It should be read by any installed pastor or interim pastor who desires to lead the church off the plateau or out of decline. This book is one that I will review periodically to help me keep my focus as a turnaround leader.

Some of the best “stuff” I highlighted from this book:
“Turnaround always demands change.” (Everybody should already know this but everybody has to be reminded of this again and again!)
“It is virtually impossible to perform surgery without blood being spilled. Turnaround leaders view themselves as surgeons, not butchers.” (Intentional Interims should handle people with care even when those people have to be shaken up.)
Wood makes a strong claim when he says, “95% of all serious problems in the church stem from a power struggle.” He goes on to say that power struggles are “fundamentally irresolvable. The question in a power struggle is, who will lead and who will leave?”
Still talking about power struggles Wood says, “Going east is not inherently superior to moving west. The point is: No wagon can move simultaneously in both directions.” A few paragraphs later he says, “Why are churches so inclined to allow the minority to establish the order of the day? Why do they give cantankerous members more than one vote? When a church acquiesces to the minority, that is what it does.”

The core of this book is the ten characteristics of turnaround leaders:
1) They consider leadership an act of service.
2) They accept responsibility for the turnaround.
3) They avoid a church which does not desire to become healthy.
4) They establish the critical rules of engagement before they arrive.
5) They never backtrack.
6) They keep close reign on their temper.
7) They are discreet about what they share with others.
8) They are willing to confront the sin of divisiveness.
9) They possess “growth vision”.
10) They are action oriented and bold.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Change Your Church For Good - Book Review

The complete title of this book is: Change Your Church for Good – the Art of Sacred Cow Tipping. Brad Powell writes this book in a very direct and hard hitting manner. He defines the art of sacred cow tipping as the skill of successfully moving churches from the MILK of traditions to the MEAT of Truth, awakening them to be “the hope of the world.” The author’s directness is birthed out of his passion for the church. “I believe that the church is the hope of the world, with this one caveat … when it’s working right. And therein lies the problem. Most aren’t!”

Brad Powell is the pastor of NorthRidge Church. This book is birthed out of the journey that Powell led his congregation through to transition from a dying church locked in a pattern of cultural irrelevance to an exciting, contemporary church communicating God’s Word to people of every generation. Today more than 12,000 attend worship services each week at the campus located in Plymouth, Michigan.

The book is about church transition. Powell says that transitioning a church is like turning around a huge ship. It requires leadership, communication and patience. Courage is also needed because change goes against the prevailing current. Powell entitles one chapter: There Will Be Casualties (Accepting Short-term Losses for Long-term Gains). He writes, “How does a church transition without losing people? It doesn’t. … For many churches, the fear of losing people is a greater fear than failing God.” He then states three realities: If the church doesn’t change, it will lose people. If the church doesn’t change, it will lose the opportunity to reach new people. If the church does change, it will lose the right people.

My Recommendation: Don’t read this 316 page book unless you are ready to be challenged time and time again to change your church for the sake of the community around your church. DO READ IT if you want to be motivated to be a catalyst to empower your church to become what God wants it to be – the hope of the world.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Transition Team Breaks for Christmas

Our Transition Team has been working for six months now. We started the first week-end of June with an overnight retreat. We have had 20 meetings besides the retreat, conducted two congregational surveys and led four congregational events focusing on three of the five developmental tasks of the intentional interim process. This hard working team deserves some "down time" during the Christmas holiday season.

The team will have to jump back into action in January to complete the final two tasks during the first six months of 2008. They will need to complete the Church and Pastoral Profiles by March 1st so that our Local Board of Administration can begin the pastoral search in a timely manner. Our denominational pastor/parish relationships are established in such a way that the spring months are the "prime time" for pastoral transitions. If the L.B.A. is unable to conduct the pastoral search during these months it will put the church at a great disadvantage.

The two profiles mentioned above are two primary tools used in the pastoral search. The Transition Team has the church profile near completion. It contains the following information: church history, current structure and format of services, property description, financial data, staff arrangements. community demographics, and findings from the recent congregational identity survey. Once completed it will be submitted to the L.B.A. and be available for public review. If anyone would like to see it, just ask. The pastoral profile will be completed after another congregational survey is done in January related to pastoral needs and expectations.

This is the last post regarding the Transition Team work until the new year. I do plan to post updates on church / personal activities and some book reviews during December . If you follow this blog only to read about the Intentional Interim process come back in January. For the rest of you, keep checking back to see what I have added and God bless you all!