Book Resources

BOOK REVIEWS

The strength of our Book Reviews collection lies in the categorical breakdown that we have created for you below. We have divided the most common ministry design issues into categories so that you can more easily find the solution that you are looking for. Our eventual goal is to have an in-depth review for every book that will give you further assistance in discovering the reading pathway that can lead you to the solutions to the ministry issues you may be facing.


MINISTRY DESIGN |

APPROACHES

  • Advanced Strategic Planning: A 21st-Century Model for Church and Ministry Leaders 3rd (third) Edition

    By Aubrey Malphurs

  • Advanced Strategic Planning: A New Model for Church and Ministry Leaders

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0801091810?ie=UTF8&tag=minidesiconc-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0801091810

    by Aubrey Malfurs. Publisher: Baker Books.

    Focus is on nuts and bolts.

    Click to See Full Review

    Purpose: To assist churches that are plateaued or in decline reverse their condition.

    Content: He presents a detailed, in-depth, step by step process for developing a strategic plan for your ministry.

    Analysis: This book provides comprehensive information for the journey through strategic planning. It is an academic approach and some may find it dry but it is overflowing with needed instruction for today’s churches. One concern is that we do not substitute our need for the Lord in the midst of struggling with leading our ministries. The mechanics of leadership cannot replace our desperate need for Christ to energize our lives.

    Application: Who will benefit? Church leaders wishing to understand the parts of the strategic process and how they fit together. How does it benefit? It provides an in-depth step by step process for strategic planning. Where does it fit in the ministry design process? It is an educational tool that provides the nuts and bolts of the process. It ministers to the head.

    Aha Thought: The author quotes researcher Kirk Hadaway, “Does a planning process which involves evaluation and a long-range plan correlate with church growth? The answer is yes. Survey results show that 85 percent of churches which have grown off the plateau have reevaluated their programs and priorities during the past five years, as compared to 59 percent of churches which have remained on the plateau. Similarly, 40 percent of ‘breakout churches’ have developed a long-range plan, as compared to only 18 percent of continued plateau churches.” (p. 24)

  • AND: The Gathered and Scattered Church

    by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay

    A guide to marry attractional and missional models of church

  • Breaking the Missional Code: Your Church Can Become a Missionary in Your Community

    by Ed Stetzer and David Putman. Publisher: B&H Books
    Focus is on service clarity

  • Change Your Questions Change Your Church: How to Lead with Powerful Questions

    by J. Val Hastings

    How to master the right questions to move your ministry forward to the next level

  • Church is a Team Sport: A Championship Strategy for Doing Ministry Together

    by Jim Putman. Publisher: Baker Books

  • Church Marketing 101: Preparing Your Church for Greater Growth

    by Richard Reising. Publisher: Baker Books
    Focus is on ministry by perspectives

    Click Here to Review

    Purpose:

    To provide powerful insights and case studies from real churches today for strategically evaluating and strengthening our connections to the communities around us. It is his intent to provide us with the “fundamentals” of marketing so we can apply them, thus the title “Church Marketing 101”.

    Content:

     

    •    What is church marketing?

    •    How marketing effects every area of your church?

    •    How to perceive the community’s perception of your church?

    •    How to understand your target audience?

    •    What are the fundamentals of growth?

    •    How to create an atmosphere that fosters growth?

    •    What are the marketing secrets of the “Big Boys”?

    •    What is meant by a “branding iron”?

    •    How to determine God’s vision for your ministry?

    •    How to put all of this together?

    Analysis:

    Church marketing has been viewed by many as “selling God”. This is clearly not the author’s intent. He suggests we use communicating or connecting instead of marketing if this term causes us stumble. He explains the biblical basis and charge for marketing along with helping us understand the science of “perception”.

    Application:

    Who will benefit from this book?

    The pastor as ministry architect and those that assist him with engineering the ministry design.

    How will they benefit from this book?

    It will instruct you and your team to design your ministry with a perception management approach.

    Where does this book fit in the process of ministry design?

    This is one of a number of approaches to ministry design. The approach is focused on management of perception. It requires the ministry to be sensitive to how others, inside and outside the church, see us. It has been argued that “perception is reality”. What road blocks of perception have you erected that are hindering others from clearly seeing Christ and hearing the gospel?

     

  • Church Merger

    By Richard Laribee

    Based on actual case studies rather than untested assumptions, this study considers:
    • What questions to ask before considering a church merger?
    • When is church merger a good strateg?
    • What are the goals for effective church mergers?
    • When are church mergers counter-productive?
    • How are effective church mergers implemented?

  • Church Turned Inside Out: A Guide for Designers, Refiners, and Re-Aligners (Jossey-Bass Leadership)

    by Linda Bergquist and Allan Karr

    Presents the levels of redesign for your ministry

  • Church Unique: How Missional Leaders Cast Vision, Capture Culture, and Create Movement

    Will Mancini. A Leadership Network Publication. Publisher: Jossey Bass.

    Focus is on vision clarity.

     

    Click Here to Review

    Purpose:

    To offer “church leaders a way to transform their leadership and vision with missional effectiveness”. To provide a “new kind of visioning process to help churches develop a stunningly unique model of ministry that leads to redemptive movement”.

    Content:

    The book is divided into four parts: Recasting Vision, Clarifying Vision, Articulating Vision and Advancing Vision.  This book is full of helpful insights, instructions and explanations to help a ministry leader navigate his church through the visioneering process. The last chapter is entitled “Resurrect Your Uniqueness: If you Copy Someone Else’s Vision, Who Will Accomplish Yours?”  I call this “plug and play”. It is a behavior that I have seen practiced for over three decades the tendency to borrow someone else’s ministry model and think it will automatically work for you.  You could be missing God’s design for your unique situation.

    Analysis:

    The book is full of helpful instruction that challenges us to pursue God in the process of leading our ministries and not short-cut that process by merely using someone else’s ministry design. The instruction will best be used by leaders who are willing to invest their time, energy and resources.  It is for those who are analytical or patient to work through the processes and concepts communicated.  In spite of my last statement, I would encourage every leader to read this book for personal development.  I believe you can benefit from the information whether or not it is best suited to serve as your primary guide for your ministry design.

    Application:

    Who will benefit?

    The analytical, patient, detail oriented leader and leadership team.

    How will it benefit?

    It is a tutorial guideline that provides insight to the ministry design process.

    Where does it fit?

    Read it at the frontend of your ministry design process.  It is foundational to your efforts.

    Aha Thought:

    “A church without motives is like a river without banks – just a large puddle.  It is missing an opportunity for white-water movement.  As with any organization, your church has a set of shared motives, or values, underneath the surface of everyday activity.  The problem is that they stay weak because they are unidentified and unharnessed in guiding the future.”(p. 129)  When there is a disconnect between the real core values of a church and their mission you have an ineffective situation.

  • Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision & Inspiriation

    Samuel R. Chand, A Leadership Network Publication. Publisher: Jossey Bass.

    It provides important insight into components of every organization that is foundational to their understanding.

     

    Click Here to Review

    Purpose:

    This book describes and defines the normal personality types that are found in organizational cultures. Dr. Chand gives the characteristics of the different types and categorizes them in the following ways: inspiring, accepting, stagnated, discouraging and toxic. The author does not leave the reader with simply the ability to identify which personality his organization has but also helps the reader formulate steps for correcting and changing a culture that is not inspiring.

    Content:

    He provides the reader with 7 keys of culture that forms an acrostic. They are control, understanding, leadership, trust, unafraid, responsive and execution – spelling out the word culture. He declares the first and most important step toward changing a culture is insight into these 7 keys.

    Analysis:

    This is a book that every person in an organization should read and reread in order to be reminded of the importance of people and how they treat each other from the very top to the very bottom. Dr. Chand makes it very clear that it is well-nigh impossible for a church or any organization to effectively fulfill their mission if they have an unhealthy culture. This book can help you get to the root of why your church or organization may be failing. Often leaders have sought to correct a failing organization by installing a new game plan with strategies, programs or projects instead of addressing the un-Christlike character of their culture.

    Application:

    This book provided some missing pieces for me as a ministry design coach. It helped me build a framework for assessing the health of any organization and develop pathways to bring about needed change. I have added this book to my recommended reading list and it will be a vital part of my coaching services going forward.

  • Cracking Your Congregation’s Code: Mapping Your Spiritual DNA to Create Your Future

    by Richard Southern & Robert Norton. Publisher: Jossey-Bass.

    A systems and processes approach to heal/cure unhealthy churches.

  • Create and Celebrate Your Church’s Uniqueness

    by Harold J. Westing. Publisher: Kregel Resources.

    Focus is on discovering God’s blueprint for your ministry.

  • Creating Your Church’s Culture: How to Uproot Mediocrity and Create a Healthy Organizational Culture

    By Stephen Blandino

    How do you create a thriving organizational culture in your church? Churches are committed to a spiritual mission, but it is often the organizational aspects of the church that hinder the mission from moving forward. Cultivating health in the organizational side of church culture requires a thorough understanding of the church’s vision, systems, staffing, relationships, and leadership. When the culture is healthy, it delivers consistently healthy outcomes that advance the mission of the church. But when cultures are unhealthy, or worse, toxic, they perpetuate constant dysfunction and derail the church’s purpose. In Creating Your Church’s Culture, Stephen Blandino gives you the tools and strategies to address the organizational side of your church’s culture. You’ll learn how to: 

    • Define your culture
    • Activate the Culture Equation
    • Hire staff who fit your culture
    • Infuse your values into your culture
    • Create a learning culture
    • Develop effective systems
    • Increase employee and volunteer engagement
    • Measure the health of your culture
    • Uproot bureaucracy 

    This practical book is loaded with wisdom and inspiration to help you improve the organizational aspects of your church’s culture. Plus, the book includes a culture assessment and implementation guide to help you apply what you are learning.

  • Culture Shift: Transforming Your Church From The Inside Out

    by Robert Lewis & Wayne Cordeiro. Publisher: Jossey-Bass.

    Focuses on culture modeling.

  • Deep & Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend

    by Andy Stanley

    Deep and Wide provides church leaders with an in-depth look into North Point Community Church and its strategy for creating churches unchurched people absolutely love to attend. Andy writes, ‘Our goal is to create weekend experiences so compelling and helpful that even the most skeptical individuals in our community would walk away with every intention of returning the following week…with a friend!’

    For the first time, Andy explains his strategy for preaching and programming to ‘dual audiences’: mature believers and cynical unbelievers. He argues that preaching to dual audiences doesn’t require communicators to ‘dumb down’ the content. According to Stanley, it’s all in the approach.

  • Essential Church?: Reclaiming a Generation of Dropouts

    by Thom Rainer and Sam Rainer III. Publisher: B&H Books.

    Focus is on attractional models.

    Click Here to Review

    Purpose:

    To help the reader think through the development of their leadership ability.  How to develop the “vision, value, influence, and motivation required of successful leaders”.

    Content:

    More than two-thirds of young adults between the ages of 18-22 leave the church. The authors help us understand why they left and what churches have done to regain them.

    Top Ten Reasons Church Dropouts Stopped Attending Church

    1. Simply wanted a break from church.
    2. Church members seemed judgmental or hypocritical.
    3. Moved to college and stopped attending church.
    4. Work responsibilities prevented me from attending.
    5. Moved too far away from the church to continue attending.
    6. Became too busy though still wanted to attend.
    7. Didn’t feel connected to the people in my church.
    8. Disagreed with the church’s stance on political or social issues.
    9. Chose to spend more time with friends outside the church.
    10. Was only going to church to please others.

    The premise of Essential Church is that the reason they leave boils down to this… “Churchgoing students drop out of the church because it is not essential to their lives.”

    Part 1: Why People Leave the Nonessential Church
    Chapter 1: My Faith is Not My Parents’ Faith
    Chapter 2: Looking for a different kind of community
    Chapter 3: That’s Life! it changes
    Chapter 4: A New Spin on hypocrisy
    Chapter 5: All Eyes on the Main Man
    Part 2: How Essential Churches Close the Back Door
    Chapter 6: The Essential church and the Back door
    Chapter 7: Simplify: Getting the Structure Right
    Chapter 8: Deepen: Getting the content Right
    Chapter 9: Expect: Getting the Attitude Right
    Chapter 10: Multiply: Getting the Action Right
    Conclusion: Building an Essential Church: A Case Study

    The core of the book is focused on what is needed to reverse the trend. An “Essential Church” focuses on four critical areas:

    •    Simplifies: Getting the Structure Right

    •    Deepens: Getting the Content Right

    •    Expects: Getting the Attitude Right

    •    Multiplies: Getting the Action Right

    Analysis:

    I believe this book provides research, insight, encouragement, and some practical steps to help churches reverse the perception that church is not essential.

    Application:

    Who will benefit?

    Pastors, youth pastors, parents and other leadership

    How will it benefit?

    The book provides a road map for developing an essential church.

    Where does it fit in the process?

    On the front end of your ministry design process.

  • Extreme Church Makeover: A Biblical Plan To Help Your Church Achieve Unity and Freedom In Christ

    by Neil T. Anderson and Charles Mylander, Regal Books

    Focus is spiritual renewal of the church

     

    Click Here to Review

    Purpose:

    The authors are giving research results as to why young adults are leaving the church and suggestions of how to get them back.

    Content:

    More than two-thirds of young adults between the ages of 18-22 leave the church.  The following are the top ten reasons for why they stopped attending church:

    •    Simply wanted a break from church.

    •    Church members seemed judgmental or hypocritical.

    •    Moved to college and stopped attending church.

    •    Work responsibilities prevented me from attending.

    •    Moved too far away from the church to continue attending.

    •    Became too busy though still wanted to attend.

    •    Didn’t feel connected to the people in my church.

    •    Disagreed with the church’s stance on political or social issues.

    •    Chose to spend more time with friends outside the church.

    •    Was only going to church to please others.

     

    The core of the book is focused on what is needed to reverse this trend. An “Essential Church” focuses on four critical areas:

    •    Simplifies: Getting the Structure Right

    •    Deepens: Getting the Content Right

    •    Expects: Getting the Attitude Right

    •    Multiplies: Getting the Action Right

     Analysis:

    I believe this book provides research, insight, encouragement, and some practical steps to help churches reverse the perception that church is not essential.

     Application:

    Who will benefit?

    Pastors, youth pastors, parents and other leadership

    How will they benefit?

    The book provides a road map for developing an essential church.

    Where does it fit in the process?

    On the front end of your ministry design process.

    Aha Thought:

    “ . . . parents have the potential to help keep students in the church. They, as much as any other factor, can help guide and shape their children to become spiritually mature and active in a local body. The problem is that while parents maintain the potential to spark a revival in the hearts of this younger generation, it’s not happening. Children are told positive things about the church, but then these same children do not see the church as essential in the lives of their parents. What they hear from parents concerning spirituality and what they see in their lives are two different pictures.” (p. 93)

  • Get Their Name: Grow Your Church by Building New Relationships

    By Doug Anderson, Bob Farr, and Kay Kotan

    Change your church culture. Create an outwardly focused environment where hospitality and invitation happen Sunday and every day of the week. This book offers five steps to help congregations go public with their faith—from service projects to sharing the faith with persons who want to know more about Christ and thw church. This book offers tactics to increase individual and church competency with relational evangelism with friends, neighbors, and even strangers. Learn how to start up a conversation, follow up with contacts, and navigate unfamiliar settings. Learn what works and what doesn’t.

    We may think that just because we invite someone on our church property, they’ll come back. Often we don’t reach out to help people cross the faith line, because we’re uncomfortable with “evangelism” or just plain scared. Gain the confidence to share the good news boldly. After all, we know the name of the One who loves us all and who holds all power over heaven and earth.

  • Healthy Church DNA: Transforming the Church for Effective Ministry

    by Glen Rediehs Ph. D., Larry E. Webb Rel. D.. Publisher: iUniverse.

    Discusses the steps in the process of church/congregational transformation.

    Click Here to Review

    The authors boldly proclaim that a “major mind shift” is needed to change the ineffectiveness of the North American church. They lay out a pathway for each church to follow as they navigate their way to fulfilling the Great Commission in a posture of the Great Commandment. The book is full of helpful information to assist leaders with the dangers of leading a ministry that needs a major change in their attitude, thinking and living. They provide a seven step process to produce change in your congregation and it will challenge many of us to refocus what we are trying to change and how we approach our particular situation.  One of the simple yet helpful comments in the book is the differentiation between the decision to “change” and the “transition” that occurs in bringing about that decision. It is one thing to make a decision; it is entirely another thing to carry out the decision. There is a price to be paid and you need to “count” the cost of your decision to change. The need for change and the readiness to change are two completely different things. One of the challenges for leaders is to prepare a church for the needed change. The authors do a good job in leading the reader through the necessary steps to provide the leadership needed to help your congregation make God honoring change.

  • Here Today, There Tomorrow: Unleashing Your Church’s Potential

    by Gary L. McIntosh. Publisher: Wesleyan Publishing House.

    Focuses on workable gameplans to help churches grow.

    Click Here to Review

    Purpose

    To help the church leaders identify “the best practices on how to assess the unique identity of a church and design a plan for its future”. The author’s intent is to instruct and encourage the leader to let “God move your church from where it is to where He wants it to be”.

    Content

    It is loaded “case studies, resources, and chapter-by-chapter action plans”. Fifteen chapters wrapped up in 200 pages. The book records the conversation between three fictional pastors discussing the challenges of their ministries and the solutions to those challenges.

    Analysis

    This is an easy, insightful read that should help you develop a plan of action for your ministry. He does a good job explaining the planning process with its individual parts.

    Application

    Who will benefit from this book?

    The pastor and leaders during the planning process and then the congregation when it is implemented.

    How will they benefit from this book?

    It should help you jump start your active fulfillment of the Great Commission.

    Where does this book fit in the ministry design process?

    It is a teaching tool to prepare you to lead your church through the planning process.

  • High Expectations

    By Thom Rainer

    For over a quarter of a century the problem of losing church members has progressively increased. Today the situation is so bad that less than one-third of the members in some churches attend worship services. Church leaders are crying for help. In an effort to help church leaders, the Billy Graham School of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary conducted a massive research project involving nearly 287 churches. The most revealing aspect of the study was that the higher expectations placed on members, the greater the likelihood that the members would stay and be involved with the church. Using the data gathered from this project, Thom Rainer presents the first-ever comprehensive study about ‘closing the back door.’ Rainer looks at why people are leaving the church and how church leaders can keep the members.

  • Kingdom Come: Why We Must Give Up Our Obsession with Fixing the Church-and What We Should Do Instead

    By Reggie McNeal

    “There’s a reason Jesus taught us to pray “Thy Kingdom come . . .” and not “Thy church come.”The church clearly plays an important role in God’s plans. It was established by Christ, and he is its Head. But have we put too much emphasis on the church? Have we confused a means of participating in God’s Kingdom with the Kingdom itself?
    In Kingdom Come, church ministry consultant Reggie McNeal reveals why it’s crucial to realign the church’s mission with God’s ultimate Kingdom agenda. You’ll discover how you can get in on—and help lead—the Kingdom movement currently underway.
    Join the mission to help the Kingdom break into our hearts…and break out into the world.”

    I believe this book will challenge your thinking! (Marshall Shannon)

  • Launching Missional Communities: A Field Guide

    By Mike Breen (Author), Alex Absalom (Author)

    The authors answer the key questions about missional communities

  • Leading the DiscipleShift: Becoming a Disciple-Making Church

    by Brandon Guindon (Author) , Lance Wigton (Author) , Luke Yetter (Author)

    Equip church leaders with the tools and insights needed to rally people around renewed purpose. Drawing from biblical principles and the experience of Real Life Ministries, this workbook guides users to evaluate the power of ministry alignment and personal influence for the sake of each church’s God-given mission to make disciples.

    * 9 weeks of material designed for a church staff or ministry leadership team
    * Each week includes four personal exercises and one collaborative session for a team meeting
    * A thorough outline of practical steps for leading a new or established church toward a unified mission of disciple-making
    * Interactive workbook includes assessments for areas of ministry and leadership

  • Management Essentials for Christian Ministries

    by Michael Anthony and James Estep. Publisher: B&H Books. (Academic)

    Graduate level textbook

    Click Here to Review

    Purpose:

    To educate the reader on management principles for Christian ministries. The editors seek to address all the issues of church administration and functions along with providing a scriptural foundation for the organizational approaches to church management.

    Content:

    The book is divided into 6 parts:

    •    Integration – Biblical perspectives, theology of administration

    •    Planning – Mission, Vision, Goals, Objectives, Strategic Planning, Policies, Procedures, Budgeting and Objectives

    •    Organizing – Structures, Job Descriptions, Meetings, Change Agents, Decision Making & Communication)

    •    Staffing – Volunteers, Paid Staff and HR concerns

    •    Directing – Developing Leaders, Mentoring, Team Development, Strategies, and working with Boards & committees

    •    Evaluating – Performance Reviews & Program evaluation

    Analysis:

    This book is an academic effort to cover many of the challenges faced in leading and managing a ministry. It relies on the expertise of numerous contributors. I have found the book helpful and I would imagine you will too.

    Application:

    Who will benefit?

    Ministry leaders at all levels. Those that don’t mind the academic nature of this book will find it helpful.

    How will they benefit?

    The book gives a systematic approach to Christian Management. It is educational and hopefully applicable to your situation.

    Where does it fit in the Ministry Design process?

    Leadership and organizational development

    Aha Thought:

    “One area that is often overlooked in church ministry is ‘how vision is lost.’  Barna writes about reasons why a church slowly loses its strength, focus, and then its purpose.  Perhaps a summary of these would be beneficial.

    1.    Being out of touch with God.

    2.    Burnout.

    3.    Poor leadership.

    4.    Absence of accountability.

    5.    Impatience.

    6.    A broadened focus.

    7.    Egocentricity.

    8.    Ignoring values.

    9.    Another vision or other interests.

    10.  Ministry becomes tedious.

    11.  Lack of evaluation.

    12.  Inappropriate lifestyles and structures.

    13.  Extreme conflict.

    14.  In search of a new vision (the vision becomes outdated).” (p. 72-73)

  • Mission Creep: The Five Subtle Shifts That Sabotage Evangelism & Discipleship

    By Larry Osborne

    “Evangelism and discipleship aren’t rocket science. When Jesus sent out a ragtag team from Galilee with the expectation that they would evangelize and disciple the world, they pulled it off as a natural and spontaneous outworking of their faith.
    Yet 2,000 years later, this same natural and spontaneous process has been turned into a complex and highly programmed skill left to the professionals. Pastor and author Larry Osborne exposes what’s gone wrong and the five subtle shifts that sabotage our best efforts to reach the lost and bring them to full maturity.”

  • Multi-Site Churches: Guidance for the Movement’s Next Generation

    by Scott McConnell. Publisher: B & H Publishing Group.

    Focuses on practical methodology to help churches navigate successfully establishing a church with multiple locations.

  • On the Verge: A Journey Into the Apostolic Future of the Church

    by Alan Hirsch. Publisher: Zondervan.

    Focuses on a new church strategy for the post modern age.

    Click Here to Review

    The authors, Alan Hirsch and Dave Ferguson, point out the need for doing and being church in a new way and they provide a pathway for those wishing to discover and develop that new way. They state that the task of their book “is nothing less than to call the church to recover her most ancient, her most potent, and also her most beautiful form”. They write “to help birth the paradigm shift, to compellingly describe it, and then to help churches practically implement it”. Alan and Dave understand the data collected over the last decade clearly shows the serious decline of the North American church and they believe they have a solution to reverse that decline so that Christ is honored and people are brought to Him. Whether you agree with their conclusions or not I would urge you to take this journey with them through reading the book to help you discern what you should do and be in order to address this decline. How will you personally honor Christ and lead others to Him?

    Alan states “On the Verge is really a serious attempt to process and apply the Apostolic Genius paradigm developed in The Forgotten Ways, to existing (largely evangelical and evangelistic) churches, as well as to other existing church systems.” Dave states “I’m trading my life to catalyze a movement of reproducing churches”. Alan is a strategist and theologian and he brings “systemic and architectural perspectives” to the process. Dave is a “practitioner” and he addresses how a church can really implement the process they lay out in the book.

    The book is written by both men as a dialogue. In each chapter one man gives a proposal and the other provides a response. The pathway or map in the book is divided into four parts: Imagine, Shift, Innovate and Move with the purpose in mind to move the reader along the journey to discovering a new way of thinking about church. They seek to give God His rightful place in the process by urging the reader to turn to God for the conclusions and solutions to be drawn while on this journey.

  • Re:Vision: The Key to Transforming Your Church

    By Aubrey Malphurs

    “Still looking for the program, book, or sermon series that will turn your church around?
    What if the answer to revitalizing your church is . . . you?

    In a time when many pastors are jumping from church to church every few years as they search for the “right fit,” churches are suffering from a lack of sustained leadership from pastors with a viable vision for ministry. Packed with field-tested advice, self-diagnostic tools, and surveys, Re:Vision takes you through a process designed to help you re-envision your role, create a culture for positive change, and recruit people to come alongside you as helpers and encouragers.”

  • Rethinking Church: A Challenge to Creative Redesign in an Age of Transition

    by James Emery White

    Focuses on one pastor’s journey with which many of us can identify

     

    Click Here to Review

    Purpose:

     

    To lead the reader through rethinking the areas of ministry listed below in order to assist the reader with bringing about change from the rethinking.

    Content:

    The book is divided into 8 chapters: “Rethinking”…

    1. The foundational questions
    2. Evangelism
    3. Discipleship
    4. Ministry
    5. Worship
    6. Structure
    7. Community
    8. From rethinking to change

    Analysis:

    Rethinking is defined as “the radical redesign of church processes for dramatic improvement in the fulfillment of the church’s purposes and mission”. The author identifies the most important word in the definition of “rethinking” as “process”. By process he means “a complete end to end set of activities that together fulfill the purposes and mission of the church”. The exercise of rethinking, measuring and judging our “processes” is a needed one. I recommend this book to the pastor that sees the need for this exercise and is willing to pay the price to carry out that exercise. Instead of rethinking our processes churches have been focused on repairing their church. Peter Drucker stated “there is a great difference between increasing efficiency-which is doing things right-and effectiveness, which is doing the right things”.

    Application:

    Who will benefit?

    The pastor and his leadership team then the congregation and community once the exercise is implemented.

    How will they benefit?

    It will serve as a guide and instructional tool for rethinking every aspect of your ministry. It will help the leaders to “rethink why they do what they do the way they do it”.

    Where does it fit in the process?

    At the front end of your ministry design process.

  • Right Questions for Church Leaders, Volume 4

    By Lovett Weems

    “Leaders do not need answers. Leaders must have the right questions.” These two sentences introduce one of the most popular features in each issue of Leading Ideas, the online newsletter of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership (churchleadership.com) of Wesley Theological Seminary (wesleyseminary.edu). This feature grew out of my realization years ago that leaders spend far too much time trying to figure out the “right answers” to a range of issues facing congregational life, while that time would be more profitably used in discerning a few key questions that can change the direction of a church.

    Increasing evidence shows that the ability to ask questions and then listen and respond in ways consistent with your mission is key to strong organizations, including churches. Innovation comes from listening, especially listening to those you seek to serve. But listening must always be tied to the larger purpose of the ministry. The goal is not so much to satisfy constituents as it is improve how the mission is fulfilled.

    Increasingly, church leaders have less direct contact with the people the ministry seeks to help as more and more direct engagement is done by others, especially in larger churches — staff, church school teachers, congregational care teams, team leaders, youth counselors, etc. That is one reason why leaders must create opportunities to have ongoing conversations with a range of people who experience a church’s ministry.

    You see, to ask questions, leaders have to interact with people. Making such conversations commonplace provides a source of knowledge and renewal from such direct contact. One certainly sees things from a different perspective when talking with a diverse constituency. Insulation from those views does not help leaders or their ministries.

    In response to requests for a collection of questions used in “The Right Question” column over the years, we have organized selected ones by topic and are making them available in this collection. The topics are: Understanding Your Church’s Identity; Identifying and Supporting Leaders; Reviewing Programs; Planning; Facing Challenges; Looking for Clues; Creative Abandonment; Seeking Feedback; Evaluation of Others; Habits; Leading Groups; Making the Most of Meetings; Worship; Encouraging Creativity; Delegation; and Personal Reflection and Assessment. We hope these questions will help you lead with the power that comes from better knowing the hearts and minds of those with whom you serve.

  • Simple Church: Returning to God’s Process for Making Disciples

    by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger. Publisher: B&H Books.

    Focus is on mission clarity.

    Click Here to Review

    Purpose:

    To help churches improve their effectiveness for Christ in making disciples by simplifying the process.

    Content:

    The book is divided into two parts with a total of nine chapters. A summary of the steps (stages) in the process of making disciples is below.

    The 4 stages to the process are:

    1. Clarity – Clarity is the ability of the process to be communicated and understood by the people. (pg. 70)
    2. Movement – Movement is the sequential steps in the process that cause people to move to greater areas of commitment. Movement is about flow. It is about assimilation. Movement is what causes a person to go to the next step. Movement is the most difficult simple church element to understand. (pg. 72)
    3. Alignment – Alignment is the arrangement of all ministries and staff around the same simple process. Alignment to the process means that all ministry departments submit and attach themselves to the same overarching process. (pg. 74)
    4. Focus – Focus is the commitment to abandon everything that falls outside of the simple ministry process. Focus most often means saying “no.” Focus requires saying “yes” to the best and “no” to everything else. (pg. 76)

    Analysis:

    The book is based on research results that show that the healthiest churches in America tend to have a simple process for making disciples and a clarity about that process. Each church is unique but there are often similarities in this process. It is a good thing if the book accomplishes its purpose in motivating you to examine and measure your own process of making disciples.

    Application:

    Who will benefit?

    Pastors and leaders of medium to large churches.

    How will it benefit?

    The book provides a guide for designing and implementing a simple church format that can tailored to your specific ministry. A “simple” disciple process may look different from ministry to ministry. I would suggest you do the work to develop your own instead of borrowing someone else’s.

    Where does it fit in the process?

    It should fit at the beginning of your ministry design process.

  • Stuck in a Funk?: How to Get Your Church Moving Forward

    By Tony Morgan

    “Stuck in a Funk? is Tony Morgan’s well-crafted analysis of how leaders can help reinvigorate their churches and congregations while at the same time making a bigger impact in their ministry. Morgan’s work is simple and filled with practical, useful insights. The author seeks to help church pastors and other leaders to “get unstuck,” and remove any and all forms of clutter that might be blocking a new and better path for their ministry and congregation. The book is especially designed for the church that has been stuck for decades and is facing decline, or the church that has had a degree of success and strong impact in the recent past, yet somehow finds itself plateaued.

    Throughout the pages of Stuck in a Funk?, Morgan shares his desire to help churches have a bigger, more effective impact on people’s lives, as well as in the communities they serve. Morgan’s maverick, insightful strategies are not simply theory. Rather, they are time-tested ideas and methods that have been proven from his work with churches during his successful pastoral and consulting career.

    In terms of a broad, overarching theme that defines the author’s tactics for enhancing the quality of church leadership, Morgan prompts the reader to rethink their systems and strategies. He believes that one cannot hope to get different results without engaging a different approach.

    Morgan does this by providing essential wisdom and application to help churches take their next steps. Based on four previously released e-books in the Leisure Suit series, Stuck in a Funk? examines why churches get “stuck,” how a church can move forward under a new vision, how leaders can best enact change, and how to communicate when change is needed.

    Stuck in a Funk? includes guided self-assessment and a template for establishing an action plan. It is designed to be read and discussed with a leadership team who can work together to enact positive change.”

  • The Book of Church Growth

    By Thom Rainer

    The Church Growth Movement has divided devout Christians. Even though Rainer is an advocate, his aim here is to present an objective view of the movement–its history, the theology associated with it, and the principles which seem to separate churches that grow from those that don’t.

  • The Catch: Mega Growth Strategies for Ministries of Any Size

    by Deborah Anderson-Singleton

    Ideas to help a ministry, regardless of size, reach their community and make disciples

  • The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership that Matters

    by Albert Mohler

    The central focus of The Conviction to Lead is on changing minds. The author demonstrates that real leadership is a transferring of conviction to others, affecting their actions, motivations, intuition, and commitment. This practical guide walks the reader through what a leader needs to know, do, and be in order to affect change.

  • The Curve Ahead: Discovering the Path to Unlimited Growth

    By Dave Power

    “Why do most growth companies stop growing? These fast-growing businesses are the engines of economic growth and wealth creation, but most fall behind the curve before reaching their potential. Executives are surprised when their business models mature sooner than expected, victims of the familiar S-Curve. Tragically, once-promising companies are often sold by investors too ready to throw in the towel. So what can leaders do to keep moving forward? 

    To sustain growth, companies need to discover their next S-Curve. But few have a repeatable process for uncovering new opportunities before their core business stalls. The Curve Ahead offers a practical approach to sustaining long-term growth. It describes how growth companies can build innovation into the rhythm of their business operations and culture using design thinking, prototyping, business model design and other Innovation Power Tools.”

    While this book was written for the business world it has value to Pastors and Ministry Leaders.

  • The Externally Focused Church

    by Rick Rusaw & Eric Swanson. Publisher: Group.

    Addresses a much needed change in church culture in the 21rst century.

  • The Externally Focused Quest: Becoming the Best Church for the Community

    by Eric Swanson (Author), Rick Rusaw (Author)

    The Externally Focused Quest: Becoming the Best Church for the Community is designed for church leaders who want to transform their churches to become less internally focused and more oriented to the world around them. The book includes the clear guidelines on the ten changes congregations must adopt to become truly outwardly focused. This book is not about getting all churches to have an annual day of community service as a tactic but changing the core of who they are and how they see themselves as a part of their community.

  • The Fine Line: Re-envisioning the Gap Between Christ and Culture

    by Kary Oberbrunner. Publisher: Zondervan.

    Addresses the tough question of how the church is to posture itself toward culture.

  • The Intentional Church: Moving From Church Success to Community Transformation

    by Randy Pope. Publisher: Moody

    Focus is on ministry on purpose.

    Click Here to Review

    Purpose:

    The author seeks to lead pastors from pursuing bigger buildings, budgets, staff and congregation to pursuing the transformation of their congregations and communities for the glory of God.  His purpose is to refocus the church to those things that matter to God and for eternity. To be an intentional and transformational church.

    Content:

    The author shares his story and the principles he has used over several decades in his ministry at Perimeter Church in Atlanta.  Listed below are the causes that make a church grow:

    •    God honoring purpose

    •    Faith oriented commitment

    •    A God given Vision

    •    Well prioritized Values

    •    Well defined mission

    •    Biblically based job descriptions

    •    Strategically Designed Infrastructure

    •    Culturally relevant strategies

    •    Well developed goals and plans

    •    Ongoing measurement

    Analysis:

    If any of the causes listed above are missing in your ministry you might do well to purchase this book and work through them with your bible and other leaders in your church. It is a helpful book that challenges us to stay on target with our ministries. I believe the book will both inspire you and instruct you to develop a ministry plan for your church.

    Application:

    Who will benefit?

    Pastors and other ministry leaders that need to develop a game plan.

    How will it benefit?

    It is educational and will serve as a navigational tool for developing your ministry design.

    Where does it fit in the process?

    At the front end of your ministry design process.

    Aha Thought:

    “Over the years, I have observed a faulty assumption in the church at large regarding maturity. The majority report among Christians seems to be that Christian maturity is measured by the biblical and theological knowledge a person has assembled coupled with his spiritual commitment. Yet I am amazed how little emphasis is given to the observable life change this is brought about by the application of Scripture to their lives. Now I know that behavior alone does not declare someone to be mature. Only God knows the motives of a person’s heart. But our own Master told us we would determine if a person is one of His followers simply by observing his fruit. Certainly our judgment of such fruit can be faulty and even differ from one observer to the next. Yet fruit is nevertheless an indication of genuine maturity.” (p. 83)

  • The New Traditional Church

    By Tony Morgan

     

  • The Spirit Driven Church: God’s Plan for Revitalizing Your Ministry

    by Dr. Timothy Robnett & Allen H. Quist. Publisher: Cook Communications Ministries.
    Focuses on discerning and implementing God’s game plan for your church .

    Click Here to Review

    Purpose:

    To teach the church leaders and the congregation how to repair their declining and dying church by “going beyond the research to relying on the direction of the Holy Spirit”.

    Content:

    The authors stress the importance of a Spirit led planning and implementation process. While they teach methods and mechanics for leading a church through change it is never with the exclusion of our dependence on the God. “Without Him we can do nothing”.

    Analysis:

    I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the author’s emphasis on the Spirit Led process in turning a church around. This is a helpful reminder as we battle with the pain of change and leading others through it.

    Application:

    Who will benefit?

    Church leaders and their congregations

    How does it benefit?

    By teaching them how to fix their declining and dying churches.

    Where does it fit in the ministry design process?

    Educational tool to prepare the leaders for action.

  • Transforming Church: Bringing Out the Good to Get to Great

    by Kevin Ford. Publisher: SaltRiver (Tyndale House)

    Focus is on growth and development.

    Click Here to Review

    Purpose:

    To confront ministry leaders with the need for spiritual transformation in their congregation and community by asking a series of questions.

    Content:

    The book is about “churches that have the courage to embrace change and to confront adaptive issues in order to become transforming churches”. “These courageous churches are continually transforming how they lead, operate, and minister” in order to be faithfully effective for Christ. The author suggests five key areas our churches can improve in order “to fulfill its mission of changing lives”.

    The five key indicators of church health are:

    •    Are members at your church experiencing authentic life change?

    •    Does your church have a clear sense of mission and a compelling vision for the future?

    •    Does your church embrace change to fulfill its mission more effectively?

    •    Are your leaders successfully mentoring and mobilizing your members for ministry?

    •    Is your church effective in transforming your local community, town or city?

    Analysis:

    Let me cut to the chase, go get the book and study it. You don’t have to agree with everything in a book or an author’s body of work to gain great insight and assistance in fulfilling God’s calling on your life. I believe this book will help you.

    Application:

    Who will benefit from this book?

    Ministry leaders

    How will they benefit from this book?

    Self analysis

    Where does this book fit in the process of ministry design?

    The front end of your ministry design. It is just one of the many approaches you can use to design your ministry.

    Aha Thought:

    “Every church needs transformation. Those that don’t change die. Don’t get me wrong. I am not advocating change for the sake of change. The wrong kind of change can be toxic. Healthy change, however, is required for growth, maturity, and adaptation. Like any organization, churches can become stagnant, complacent, irrelevant, or ineffective without transformational change to keep them focused on their mission. But without clear understanding of the nature of change, the chances of growing a healthy church are diminished.”(p. xv)

  • Transitioning the Church: Leading the Established Church to Reach the Unchurched

    By Zack Williams

    “Is the church primarily for the churched or the unchurched? How do church leaders transition an established church to reach the unchurched? Zach describes one of the biggest problems in many established churches: They have lost their drive to reach the unchurched. This book reveals how the problem perpetuates because of church leadership. Too many church leaders are content with an inward focus.

    Zach identifies how leaders can help established churches transition from an inward focus to an outward focus. Transitioning is one of the most important characteristics a church can have because it involves the mission of Jesus, to take those who are hurting and lost and give them life.”

  • Unfreezing Moves: Following Jesus Into the Mission Field

    by Bill Easum. Publisher: Abingdon Press.

    The author provides 9 ways to help churches connect with the unsaved in their communities.

  • Vital Merger: A New Church Start Approach that Joins Church Families Together

    By Dirk Elliott (Author)

     

  • Whole Church: Leading From Fragmentation To Engagement

    by Mel Lawrenz. Publisher: Jossey-Bass.

    An effort to connect each church to its mission and purpose.