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 |

RESOURCES

  • 7 Warning Signs Your Church Has Ministry Silos: Triggers and Symptoms of a Divided House

    By Tony Morgan

    Though pastors and other church leaders are reticent to admit it, ministry silos are one of the most common dysfunctions at work in American churches.

    People and ministries share the same roof but do nearly everything in isolation. Outside of Sundays, they rarely combine their efforts. Like members of a dysfunctional family, most church staff members know their team isn’t healthy, but they’ve learned to cope and get by, living separate lives within the same house.

    It’s not hard to tell when a church has silos. The difficult part is discovering and eliminating their true causes. This eBook explores the triggers and symptoms of a “divided house” so you can identify the steps your church needs to take towards greater unity.

  • AND: The Gathered and Scattered Church (Exponential Series)

    by Hugh Halter. Publisher: Zondervan.

  • Bridges To Grace: Innovative Approaches to Recovery Ministry

    Click Here to Review

    The authors ask the question: “…where is the church in the world of recovery”? They answer their own question by providing the reader with 9 examples of churches that are addressing the brokenness of sin in their communities, drugs, gambling, sexual and various other addictions that cripple people from all walks of life. They state “we need a realistic understanding of how to work through our issues, our struggles with sinful behavior, so we can experience more than just relief from our struggles. We all need recovery in different ways, for different reasons, but we all want to see lives restored and healed by the grace of God.” Their collaboration of research and experience are put to good use revealing one example after another of innovative approaches to recovery ministries developed by churches. They clearly realize that there are different approaches to recovery ministry in the church today and there is no “one size fits all” pattern for effective and transformative ministry. Each church must go on their own journey to discover and develop God’s plan for their particular situation. “Instead of simply highlighting one or two models for ministry, this book shows the remarkable diversity of church recovery models, making it a unique resource unlike any other work written on the subject of recovery.” I believe you will find this book challenging, inspirational and educational. That is the author’s purpose and I believe they have accomplished that in this book that is written in story form. They address the book to pastors, ministry and recovery leaders hoping to answer the following questions: Why do churches start recovery ministries? How do we begin this type of ministry, and what are the options? What have other churches learned that might help us? I would encourage you to go on this journey with the stories of these nine churches that stretched themselves to serve the Lord in a difficult and much needed area. Perhaps the Lord would have you to be stretched as well. One that provides for others a “place of hope, healing, and transformation, a true bridge to grace”.
    by Liz Swanson & Teresa McBean. Publisher: Zondervan.
    Real life examples of churches that developed recovery ministries for their communities.

  • Built to Last

    by James Collins and Jerry Porras. Publisher: Harper Business.

    Foundational work for Good to Great

    Click to see Full Review

    Purpose: To compare a select group of successful companies that have withstood the test of time and others that did not succeed quite as well and use their findings to teach how to discover and reveal those timeless management principles that “have consistently distinguished outstanding companies”.

    Content: This book is the predecessor to Good to Great. The authors researched a group of companies, both strong and not quite as strong. Their research refuted at least twelve commonly held business practices and beliefs.

    Analysis: Research for this book was done over 6 years and was published in 1994. It is the first of a trilogy – Good to Great (2001) and Execution (2002). While this is an older work it has value for our present day ministries. The management principles revealed in this book are timeless and can be applied in your ministry today. Their research revealed “widely held” beliefs that proved to be “myths”. Do we have ministry “myths” that we need to identify and expose as false? I would encourage you to analyze and critique your ministry as a regular practice.

    Application: Who will benefit from this book? Anyone engaged in designing, developing, leading, managing and serving in a ministry at any level. The business owners and managers in your church. How does it benefit the readers? It provides proven principles. It challenges the readers to examine and think through their ministry models. Where does this book fit into the ministry design process? Foundational research that challenges our current thinking. Foundational lessons that provide assistance in the ministry design process.

    Aha Thought: “Just about anyone can be a key protagonist in building an extraordinary business institution. The lessons of these companies can be learned and applied by the vast majority of managers at all levels. Gone forever—at least in our eyes—is the debilitating perspective that the trajectory of a company depends on whether it is led by people ordained with rare and mysterious qualities that cannot be learned by others”.

  • 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 in an Age of Crisis, The: 25 New Realities Facing Christianity

    by James Emery White. Publisher: Baker Books.
  • 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?

  • Contagious Generosity: Creating a Culture of Giving in Your Church

    By Chris Willard and Jim Shepherd

    “The general practices related to church funding aren’t producing the same results they have in the past. There is a general acceptance that something has changed but little talk or interest is coming from traditional church leader training sources such as denominational entities and seminaries. Pastors are largely left to their own devices to “figure this out.” They need a lifeline. While some churches are experiencing exponential growth, some churches – despite their best efforts – have been unsuccessful at moving beyond survival mode. Coupled with increased competition from other nonprofits and a decline in the commitment to give to the church first, churches risk losing the funding they need. A growing number of leaders are beginning to discover there is another way and are struggling to understand what makes one church generous and another not. There is a need in the market to offer a simple, working definition of “generosity” and reveal the “secrets” some church leaders seem to have simply stumbled upon which are resulting in unexplainable ministry growth and unprecedented church funding even in the midst of tough economic times. The content of this material was developed and refined by Jim Sheppard and Chris Willard through years of ministry leadership in the local church, consulting with church leaders across a broad spectrum of church settings, and through participation in and leadership of the Generous Church Leadership Community facilitated by Leadership Network. Of particular benefit will be the collection of observations and best practices gleaned during the Generous Church Leadership Community that originated within real-life church leadership situations and scenarios by highlighting specific challenges, methods, and successes.”

  • 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.

  • Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable…About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business

    by Patrick Lencioni. Publisher: Jossey-Bass.
  • 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.

  • Effective Evangelistic Churches

    By Thom Rainer

    Part research project, part detective story, this book presents results from the most comprehensive study of successful churches in history. These 586 churches across America all excel in winning new souls for Christ, and have a remarkable range of things in common. Some stereotypes are shattered, some results are astonishing, and everything is written in a readable, non-technical style.– Includes churches with at least one baptism per 19 members annually– Churches range from 60 to 6,000 in membership; more than 2/3 claim 100-499 members– Reveals the seven evangelism tools most important to successful churches– Discusses popular misconceptions about church location, size, event evangelism and more

  • Engage: A Guide to Creating Life-Transforming Worship Services

    by Nelson Searcy (Author), Jason Hatley (Author), Jennifer Dykes Henson (Author)

    No matter how great Sunday’s worship service was, there’s always another Sunday lurking at the end of the next week that must be planned. Church leaders often fall into ruts, working on automatic pilot just trying to get things together, which does not allow for much creativity or focus on designing services that lead to transformation for those involved in them.

    Engage is a step-by-step, stress-free guide to planning worship services that allow for and foster true life change. Comprehensive in scope, Engage provides teaching pastors, worship leaders, and volunteers with the tools they need to work together to develop and implement a worship planning system that improves communication, enhances creativity, and honors Jesus every week.

  • Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done

    by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan. Publisher: Crown Business.

    Nuts and bolts of how to succeed.

    Click to see full review

    Purpose:

    To help the readers understand and then master a ”specific set of behaviors and techniques”  in order to have “competitive advantage.”

    Content:

    Execution does not just happen. Certain things must be in place and functioning correctly.

    Chapter 6 covers the most important – people. “Done well, it results in a leadership gene pool that can conceive and shape executable strategies and convert them into operating plans and specific points of accountability.” They show the reader how an effective strategic plan can bring you from conception to reality by connecting the dots from your people to your plan. In Chapter 9 they show us that no strategy will produce the right results unless it is converted into the correct action steps. There must be an operation plan.

    Analysis:

    This is the third part of the trilogy Built to Last and Good to Great. The emphasis on connecting the necessary parts of the process so you can deliver what you promised is very helpful. Let me give an analogy to help clarify what the authors are seeking to teach. If a Football coach selects his players and develops a game plan and specific plays to execute that plan then he has to orchestrate the three together or his system fails. Doesn’t a ministry have the same challenges?

    Application:

    Who will benefit?

    Ministry leaders at every level.

    How will they benefit?

    If everyone can understand the “big picture” of the plan then perhaps it will help them successfully perform their individual parts.

    Where does this book fit in the ministry design process?

    After you have identified your core values, developed your mission and discovered God’s vision for your ministry you must then create a strategic plan to carry out your mission to reach your vision. Execution is the “rubber meets the road” part of the process. It is taking your plan and making it happen. This is the implementation part of the process. By the way, once you implement your operational plan you should measure your performance. A system should be developed and in place for adjusting and adapting as you execute the plan.

    Aha Thought:

    “As businesses pursue growth by expanding their offerings, they often end up trying to provide more goods and services than they can handle comfortably.  General Motors, Procter & Gamble, and many others have fallen victim to this overreaching.  After two decades of unfocused growth, Unilever ended up with about 1,600 brands.  In 2001 it confronted the problem head on, reducing its brands to some 400.  The results have already shown up in higher margins and revenue growth.

    Questions to ask:

    •   Is the plan too ambitious?  What are our priorities to avoid fragmentation of effort?

    •   Is our leadership team taking on too many market segments simultaneously?  Will it dilute our focus on our original market segment, to the extent that we could lose the golden goose that is to fund the new segments?”

     

  • God’s Unwelcome Recovery: Why the New Establishment Wants to Proclaim the Death of Faith in the UK

    By Sean Oliver-Dee

    “Sean Oliver-Dee is a Fellow of the Oxford Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture, Regents Park College, University of Oxford and the interreligious advisor for the diocese of Peterborough. He is also associate researcher for the Anglican representative to the European Union. He is a regular consultant for government on identity issues and has written several papers for NGOs and think tanks.”

    The author’s purpose in writing this book has been to accomplish two things. His first purpose is to correct the “mistaken impression” that the church in the UK is in decline and second is to reveal the underlying agenda that he believes is driving the lack of reporting on the growth of the church. He believes the negative reporting about the church has now penetrated the thinking of the congregations themselves and thus the need to address this issue head on. He wants to counteract the lopsided image portrayed in the media. He believes we should re-evaluate our thinking about the place of the church in Great Britain and he writes to support his arguments.

    The author seeks to make his case by presenting evidence to support the argument that the church is growing and that it is not headed toward decline and death.  He shows the value of the church to their country and each community along with dismantling the misconceptions common among his countrymen.

    While the book was written about the churches in the UK  and the struggles they are facing I believe it can be of help to others, in particular to those of us living the U.S. Are we not somewhat headed in the same direction?

    I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kregel for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

  • Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t

    by Jim Collins. Publisher: Harper Business.
    The story of successful companies.

    Click to see full review

    Purpose:

    His purpose is to discover companies that “defy gravity and convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority”. He endeavors to answer the question “what are the universal distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great”?

    Content:

    The researchers approached the study with a set of established expectations. What they found instead was a whole new framework for the process of going from good to great. They expected “high-profile leaders with big personalities who made headlines and became celebrities”. What they found instead were “self-effacing, quiet, reserved, even shy” leaders. “These leaders are a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. They are more like Lincoln and Socrates than Patton and Caesar.” They also coined “The Hedgehog concept” which is “the ability to develop a unifying vision for your company that guides the sifting of many opportunities to leave only those in agreement with your unifying vision. It is the ability to simplify a complex world into the essential and ‘ignore the rest’. It is the ability to be clarifyingly focused instead of ‘scattered, diffused and inconsistent’.” “This book is about how to turn a good organization into one that produces sustained great results.”

    Analysis:

    This book is a business classic. It offers many great principles and practices that can be used by ministries not just the business world. It is a must read for any leader.

    Application:

    Who can benefit?

    Leaders, managers and their staffs.

    How can it benefit?

    It may help the reader identify specific things that are hindering productivity and to confidently apply business principles.

    Where does it fit into the ministry design process?

    It is foundational to structuring a pathway to success and identifying problems in your pathway and processes.

    Aha Thought:

    “The Stockdale Paradox : retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” (p. 86)

  • Great Evangelical Recession, The: 6 Factors That Will Crash the American Church…and How to Prepare

    by John S. Dickerson (Author)

    John Dickerson identifies six factors that are radically eroding the American church and offers biblical solutions to prepare evangelicals for spiritual success, even in the face of alarming trends.

  • Healthy Systems, Healthy Church E-Book

    By Nelson Searcy (Author)

     

  • Healthy Systems, Healthy Church E-Book

    by Nelson Searcy. Publisher: Church Leader Insights.

  • 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.

  • How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In

    by Jim Collins. Publisher: Jim Collins.

  • If It Could Happen Here: Turning the Small-Membership Church Around

    by Jeff Patton. Publisher: Abingdon Press.
    A pastor tells his personal story in sharing six transformational truths for small churches.

  • Innovate Church: 8 Innovative Ways to Lead and Grow the Church

    by Jonathan Falwell, General Editor. Publisher: B & H Publishing Group.
    Compilation of thought leaders for the next generation of church

  • Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow

    By Carey Nieuwhof

    You’ve probably noticed …

    Churches aren’t growing.
    Young adults are walking away.
    Volunteers are hard to recruit.
    Leaders are burning out.

    And the culture is changing faster than ever before.

    There’s no doubt the church is in a moment in history for which few church leaders are prepared.

    You can look for answers, but the right response depends on having the right conversation.

    In Lasting Impact, Carey Nieuwhof leads you and your team through seven conversations that will help your church grow and have a lasting impact.

    What if …

    • Having the right conversations could change your trajectory?
    • There was more hope than you realized?
    • The potential to grow was greater than the potential to decline?
    • Your community was waiting for a church to offer the hope they’re looking for?
    • Your best days as a church were ahead of you?

    Maybe the future belongs to the churches that are willing to have the most honest conversations at a critical time. That’s what Lasting Impact is designed to facilitate.

  • Launching Missional Communities: A Field Guide

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

    The authors answer the key questions about missional communities

  • Leading Kingdom Movements

    by Mike Breen

     

  • Leading Missional Communities

    By Mike Breen

  • 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

  • Make or Break Your Church in 365 Days: A Daily Guide to Leading Effective Change

    By Paul D. Borden (Author)

  • Membership Matters: Insights from Effective Churches on New Member Classes and Assimilation

    By Chuck Lawless

  • 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.”

  • Missional Renaissance: Changing the Scorecard for the Church

    by Reggie McNeal. Publisher: Jossey-Bass.

  • Natural Church Development: A Guide to Eight Essential Qualities of Healthy Churches

    by Christian Schwarz. Publisher: Church Smart.
    Foundational work for church health.

  • New Monasticism: What It Has To Say To Today’s Church

    New Monasticism: What It Has To Say To Today’s Church

    by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. Publisher: BrazosPress.
    A focus on counter-cultural Christianity.

  • Nine Marks of a Healthy Church

    By Mark Dever (Author), David Platt (Foreword)

  • Obstacles in the Established Church: How Leaders Overcome Them

    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.”

  • Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Field Guide for Leaders, Managers, and Facilitators

    by Patrick M. Lencioni (Author)
  • Paradigm Shift in the Church: How Natural Church Development Can Transform Theological Thinking

    by Christian Schwarz. Publisher: Church Smart.
    Analysis of culture change.

  • Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World

    By Michael Hyatt

    Step by step guide for developing your social media communication

  • Podcasting Church

    By Paul Clifford

     

  • Re-Imagine: Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age

    by Tom Peters. Publisher: Dorling Kindersley Limited.
    Focuses on the leadership’s role to prepare for the future.

  • Reaching People Under 40 While Keeping People Over 60: Being Church for All Generations

    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)”

  • Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity

    by Frank Viola. Publisher: David C. Cook.
    An effort to realign today’s church with God’s original intent for the church.

  • Renovate or Die: 10 Ways to Focus Your Church on Mission

    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.

  • Right Questions for Church Leaders, Volume 1

    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.

  • Right Questions for Church Leaders, Volume 2

    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.

  • Right Questions for Church Leaders, Volume 3

    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.

  • Sentness: Six Postures of Missional Christians

    By Kim Hammond and Darren Cronshaw

    Ever wonder why people fall asleep in church?

    “It happens. We’ve all seen it. We shuffle into rows of seats that grow more comfortable with every new fundraising campaign. We slouch down and settle in for an hour or so, as singers and storytellers and preachers and teachers take their turns filling our ears. And almost without fail, at least one of us nods off while listening to the greatest story ever told.

    The church was not meant to be like this. The church was meant to be on its feet, in the world, making all things new. The church was meant to be sent.

    Kim Hammond and Darren Cronshaw want to help us—all of us—rediscover our sentness.

    Dive into Sentness, and explore the six postures of a church that’s keeping pace with God’s work in the world. Rediscover the gospel that first quickened your pulse and got you up on your feet, ready to go wherever Jesus called you. Get Sentness, and prepare to get sent.”

  • Seven Faith Tribes: Who They Are, What They Believe, and Why They Matter

    George Barna. Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
    Research of American faith the application of the results.

  • Shift: Helping Congregations Back Into the Game of Effective Ministry

    By Phil Maynard

    An exploration of 5 key shifts congregations must make to become vital, effective, and fruitful: 1. From Fellowship to Hospitality, 2. From Worship as an Event to Worship as a Lifestyle, 3. From Membership to Discipleship, 4. From ‘Serve Us’ to Service, and 5. From ‘Survival Mentality’ to Generosity.

    Based on years of research, coaching, and consulting with local congregations this book provides helpful, practical methods for developing effective ministry.

    Most twenty-first century churches are neither missional nor effective in reaching people with the gospel. That’s just the truth of the matter. Most of our churches are stuck, declining, aging and struggling in various ways. SHIFT is written most explicitly for the church that thought they had ministry figured out 30 years ago, but where nothing today is working as well as it used to work. If this is the case in the place that you call church this book may get your church’s leaders thinking through the key movements for effective ministry.