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.
- Personal Development
- Development of Others
- Leading Change
- Pastoral Transition
- Leading Church Mergers
by Speed B. Leas. Publisher: Alban Institute.
A guidebook for conflict management.
by Ron Susek. Publisher: Baker Book House Co.
Provides help in understanding the nature of heated church conflicts
By Edgar Schein
“• A penetrating analysis of the psychological and social dynamics of helping relationships
• Named one of the best leadership books of 2009 by strategy+business magazine
Helping is a fundamental human activity, but it can also be a frustrating one. All too often, to our bewilderment, our sincere offers of help are resented, resisted, or refused—and we often react the same way when people try to help us. Why is it so difficult to provide or accept help? How can we make the whole process easier?
Many different words are used for helping: assisting, aiding, advising, caregiving, coaching, consulting, counseling, guiding, mentoring, supporting, teaching, and many more. In this seminal book on the topic, corporate culture and organizational development guru Ed Schein analyzes the social and psychological dynamics common to all types of helping relationships, explains why help is often not helpful, and shows what any would-be helpers must do to ensure that their assistance is both welcomed and genuinely useful.
The moment of asking for and offering help is a delicate and complex one, fraught with inequities and ambiguities. Schein helps us navigate that moment so we avoid potential pitfalls, mitigate power imbalances, and establish a solid foundation of trust. He identifies three roles a helper can play, explaining which one is nearly always the best starting point if we are to provide truly effective help. So that readers can determine exactly what kind of help is needed, he describes an inquiry process that puts the helper and the client on an equal footing, encouraging the client to open up and engage and giving the helper much better information to work with. And he shows how these techniques can be applied to teamwork and to organizational leadership.
Illustrated with examples from many types of relationships—husbands and wives, doctors and patients, consultants and clients—Helping is a concise, definitive analysis of what it takes to establish successful, mutually satisfying helping relationships.”
by Jim Van Yperen. Publisher: Moody.
Focuses on our commitment to Christ as the key to resolving conflicts.
by Edward Dobson, Speed Leas and Marshall Shelley. Publisher: Thomas Nelson.
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To prepare pastors for the inevitable conflicts and controversies they will face in their ministries.
The three authors each take an assigned conflict and controversy and apply their knowledge of scripture and personal experience to counsel leaders on how to handle difficult situations. They deal with understanding the nature of conflict, the causes of controversy, how to see conflict coming, how to handle the pressures of conflict and the pulpit in the midst of controversy along with advise for restoring a fallen leader, dealing with the media and dealing with battling members.
I read this book in 1993 after a particularly difficult time in my ministry. I found it refreshing, instructive, comforting and encouraging in time of great personal need. It is my hope and prayer that you will have the same experience from its pages.
Who will benefit?
How does it benefit?
Educational reinforcement to biblical principles along with encouragement from the stories told in the book.
Where does it fit in the ministry design process?
Pg. 17 “As with most church battles, the combatants were relatively few in number. I was reminded of a tactical lesson from military history: guerrilla forces need b e only one-tenth the size of a conventional army to keep it hopelessly enmeshed in a no-win situation.” Lesson: it only takes a handful to make enough noise for you to think you are facing an army when in fact you are facing just a few.
By Sam Reiner
“Many established churches in North America are struggling. But the obituaries are premature. Struggling churches can make a difference again. Many churches have several obstacles in front of them slowing growth and preventing health. While every church is a unique congregation in a specific local context, patterns present in one established church are often present in another. Rainer identifies these obstacles and reveals how churches can successfully overcome them. God does not give up on these congregations. Despite the obvious obstacles, we should not give up on them either.”
By Kent Crockett
“Who are the pastor abusers? They are mean-spirited church members who criticize and bully their pastor with the goal of forcing him out of the church. While most church members are supportive of their minister, pastor abusers are usually only a small group, and are often running the church. Can anything be done to stop them? What can a pastor do when he is under attack? What are the minister’s options after being fired or forced out of the church? Pastor Abusers: When Sheep Attack Their Shepherd is a survival manual for pastors, explaining what is happening behind the scenes and the driving forces behind the attacks. Over 30 abused pastors were interviewed and their quotes are listed in every chapter. Helpful advice is given, telling pastors how to respond to the harassment. This book lists the pastor’s four options after leaving the church, along with a listing of ministry and secular job websites. READER COMMENTS: A reader in Idaho: Your book describes exactly what is happening in our church. You can rename the book with our church name in front of Pastor Abusers. A pastor in Maryland: A must read for every pastor and should be required reading for seminary students. An anonymous pastor: The information in Pastor Abusers was extremely helpful as we trudged through the most difficult, painful experience of our lives.”
by Gary Preston. Publisher: Baker Books.
Challenges pastors to Scriptural obedience in the face of conflict.
by Barry Johnson, PhD.. Publisher: HRD.
Discusses an approach to dealing with unsolvable problems.
By Edward H. Hammett and James R. Pierce
“Reaching People Under 40 While Keeping People Over 60: Being Church for All Generations (TCP Leadership Series)”
By Bob Farr and Kay Kotan
Bob Farr asserts that to change the world, we must first change the Church. As Adam Hamilton says in the Foreword, “Read [this book] carefully with other leaders in your church…You’ll soon discover both a desire to renovate your church and the tools to effectively lead your church forward.” If we want to join Robert Schnase and claim radical hospitality, passionate worship, intentional faith development, risk-taking mission and service, and extravagant generosity, we must also engage pastors and motivate churches. We must renovate and overhaul our churches and not merely redecorate and tinker with our church structure.
With straight forward language and practical tips, this book will inspire and help you organize your church for new life on the mission field. Learn how to grow your church and discover the commitments that denominational leaders must make to guarantee the fruitfulness of local congregations.
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 of Wesley Theological Seminary. This feature grew out of Director Lovett H. Weems’s 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.
Leaders are so accustomed to providing answers for the questions of others that they often fail to engage the people in identifying and addressing the major adaptive challenge in the current chapter of a congregation’s life. Since people tend to remember about 20 percent of what they are told, but about 80 percent of what they discover for themselves, questions have the beauty of allowing both the issues and the solutions to arise from within the life of a congregation.
There is also great value in having a repertoire of questions that can be used in a range of settings along the path of leadership. Becoming an adept user of questions makes it less likely that your first response to any topic is to state your opinion or “answer.” Probing questions honor others and provide additional information for you and those with whom you are engaging. The customary reactions of “I think” or “my take on it is” tend to limit options rather than expand them.
But question asking is not primarily a delaying tactic or a shrewd way to get more information before then giving your view. To use questions in this way quickly reveals a manipulative style and diminishes the leader. Instead, the use of questions is to gather more information in order to clarify for you and others exactly what is at stake.
Questions are common in the Bible. Jesus was an adept questioner. The questions in this resource are more practical than profound, but the gift of thoughtful questioning can enhance leadership without necessarily rising to biblical significance.
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: The Church’s Purpose; Remembering a Ministry’s Purpose; Identifying and Supporting Leaders; Communication; Reaching New Disciples; Seeing Your Church as Others Do; Reviewing Programs; Creative Abandonment; Assessing Differing Directions; Planning; Understanding Your Church’s Identity; Knowing What’s Going On; Making the Most of Meetings; Making Good Decisions; Facing Challenges; and Personal Reflection and Assessment.
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 of Wesley Theological Seminary. This feature grew out of Director Lovett H. Weems’s 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.
Leaders have great power, but it is often not the kind of power people assume goes with positions of authority. Few leaders, even at the highest levels of organizations, can — or should — simply decide something and make it happen. This is certainly true for lay and clergy leaders in congregations. God’s wisdom is far more abundant than that. However, leaders have tremendous power to set agendas and involve people in reflecting upon topics of concern. Virtually any formal leader can invite those involved in their sphere of leadership into conversations on topics that matter to them and to those with whom they serve.
Leaders do well to frame those topics in clear relationship to the mission of the ministry, either the congregation or one of its specific ministries. More than likely, it is some dimension of that mission that needs special attention. The leader could announce that there are problems or opportunities related to this aspect of the mission, but this would position the leader more as an advocate than a leader. There is a time for advocacy but not most of the time. A more helpful stance is to be the one who opens subjects for discernment with probing open-ended questions that assume that those engaged are just as committed to a faithful outcome as the leader.
When questioning becomes a way of life for a leader, a vast constituency of free “consultants” is constantly enriching your leadership with clues, ideas, patterns, and discoveries well beyond those available to other leaders.
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; Supporting Leaders; Mission and Outreach; Reaching New Disciples; Staffing and Hiring; Reviewing Programs; Use of Time; Planning; In Times of Transition; Seeking Feedback; Fruitful Leadership; Making Good Decisions; Facing Challenges; Preaching; Looking for Clues; 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.
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.
Silos, Politics and Turf Wars: A Leadership Fable About Destroying the Barriers That Turn Colleagues Into Competitors
by Patrick Lencioni. Publisher: JosseyBass.
Diagnoses organizational difficulties.
By John Maxwell
The basics for building and leading a team
By John T. Cocoris
The reason people do what they do has been studied for thousands of years. It has been well noted that everyone responds differently to the many environmental variable that contribute to a person’s behavior. Nothing, however, explains a person’s behavior better than understanding the influence of one’s temperament blend. This book is the result of extensive research and interviewing thousands of people since the mid 1970’s to provide insight for each temperament to help others live lives of greater clarity, efficiency, impact and understanding.