STRATEGIC PLANNING

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 DEVELOPMENT |

STRATEGIC PLANNING

  • 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.

  • 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

    by Aubrey Malfurs. Publisher: Baker Books.

    Well written 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)

  • Carving the Table

    By Greg Blake

    The memoirs of the Chief Encouragement Officer Greg Blake. Perhaps you have seen him in action, now read whats behind the CEO of Pepworks International.

    When we first got married  my parents bought us a old dining table that had come out of a bakery in NY. We bought an old fashioned icepick and thought it would be a great practice to have people carve their name in our table when they came for a visit….well 41 years later we are still continuing the tradition. We have hundreds of signatures. My 4 kids have bought an old table and are continuing the practice with their families. We even have sanded out the names of old boyfriends who didn’t make the cut!
     
    (I just finished my memoirs called Carving the Table (available in ebook format on Amazon) Click Here to get a copy!
     
    When folks visit our church for the first time, Debbie and I invite them over to our home on a Friday evening (Family Night) to get to know them better. Very non-threatening. We will also find out their occupation and will do our best to match them with another couple with the same occupation so there is an immediate connection.
     
    Have had numerous couples join because of the personal interest in their lives. I tell people that you can’t get to know people in the foyer of a church Sunday morning doing small talk.
     
    Unfortunately today we have become too busy to invest our lives in others and ultimately eternity.
  • 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

  • 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.

  • Developing a Theology of Planning

    by Tony Morgan

    In this eBook, among other learnings you’ll discover:

    > Why leaders resist planning

    > What happens when you do ministry without a plan

    > Why planning is biblical

    > The characteristics of good planning

    > How good planning benefits your leadership

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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 to see full 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.

  • 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)

    Compilation of industry leaders

    Click to see full 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)

  • Mapping Your Church Strategy

    by Mark Marshall. Publisher: LifeWay Church Resources.
  • Marketing for Church: Understanding the Basics

    by Dean Seddon

    This short book explains the basics of Marketing in a Christian context. This book explains the basics of marketing for use within churches and christian charities as well as give you some understanding regarding the principles of marketing succesfully.

    This mini book covers the two main concepts of marketing…

    The Four P’s – Product, Place, Price, Promotion
    The Four C’s – Consumer, Cost, Convenience, Communication

  • Ministry by Objectives

    by Daniel L. Mead and Darrel J. Allen. Publisher: Evangelical Training Assn.

    Older work with focus on nuts and bolts of how to make things happen

  • Ministry Nuts and Bolts: What They Don’t Teach Pastors in Seminary

    by Aubrey Malphurs. Publisher: Kregel Publications.

    An essential read for all ministry leaders – it’s foundational

  • 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.”

  • Positioning Your Church: A Strategy for Developing a Healthy and Growing Ministry

    by T.L. Bates. Publisher: TQL Press.

    Principles and strategies for reversing plateaued and declining churches.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Strategic Ministry Planning Workbook

    by Kay Kotan, David Hyatt, & Ken Willard. Publisher: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • 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 CHURCH: Why Bother?: The Nature, Purpose, & Functions of the Local Church

    By Jeffrey D. Johnson and Richard P. Belcher

    WHAT IS THE PURPOSE AND MISSION OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST?

    “Since Christ loved the church enough to die for her, every believer ought to share that passion. Jeffrey Johnson clearly does, and I believe you will find his enthusiasm contagious.” John MacArthur

    In the Foreword he wrote for The Church: Why Bother?, Dr. Richard Belcher states, “This is the day and age of lawlessness and looseness both outside of God’s church and inside as well.” How heart-breaking, yet, how true. Everywhere we look these days, it seems there are “churches,” gatherings in the name of Jesus Christ, that more closely resemble the sinfulness of the unbelieving, Christ-rejecting world than the Lord and Savior who purchased His beloved church with his death and atoning blood. Today, more than ever, is a clear need for Christians to understand the nature, purpose, andfunctions of the local church.

    What are some of the questions to be answered concerning a biblical understanding of the local church?

    • Are Christians required to join themselves to a local church?
    • What are the responsibilities of church membership?
    • How is the church to be governed?

    The Church: Why Bother? provides clear biblical instruction upon…

    1. The NATURE of the Local Church versus the emphasis some place on the facilities wherein congregations gather.

    2. The PURPOSE of the Local Church in standing firm for the truth and fostering unity and community in the pursuit of purity and holiness.

    3. The CULTURE of the Local Church in its motives and motivations versus minimizing the holiness of God’s people and the unholiness of the world.

    4. The ACTIVITIES of the Local Church in our worship of God through preaching the Word, prayer, fellowship, ordinances and song versus a focus and emphasis on programs.

    5. The WORSHIP of God in the Local Church with attention to God through Christ as opposed to an emphasis upon self; of striving for biblical regulated worship in our services than a free-for-all that falls far short of the glory of God.

  • 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 Habits of Highly Effective Churches

    by George Barna. Publisher: Gospel Light Publications.

    Focuses on being strategic in your God-given ministry

    Click to see full review

    Purpose:
    To establish specific strategic steps to leading your church into fruitfulness for Christ

    Content:
    The Barna Research Group gives the results of their study of churches in 1999 that they considered effective ministries. They defined “effective ministries” as those where lives were being transformed into Christlikeness or those that fostered change in how people lived.  Six characteristics of effectiveness were given:  worship, evangelism, education, community, stewardship and service.

    Analysis:
    This is a thought provoking work worthy of the investment of your time and resources to purchase and read. The author presents nine habits that need to be practiced by any ministry that desires to see lives genuinely transformed. It is too easy for a church to lose its effectiveness. This book shows why so many churches are filled with attenders yet are having little impact on the world around them with the life-changing message of the Gospel.

    Application:
    Who will benefit?
    Senior pastors

    How will they benefit?
    Develops a scorecard for effectiveness

    Where does it fit in the process?
    Ministry renovation

    Aha Thought:
    “If God had called your church in existence, then He intends to bless it.  If you are serious about becoming and staying highly effective, let me provide one way of understanding what makes a church an agency of significant life transformation:  While you cannot imitate everything that a highly effective church does and expect to be similarly life changing, understanding these nine principles of ministry and adapting them to the unique vision and resource base God has given you will enable your church to become highly effective, too.
    The major factor left to your discretion will be the commitment to deploy godly, gifted leaders to facilitate such ministry and an unflagging commitment to strive to become all that God intends for your church to become.  Are you willing to make such a commitment?” (p. 25)

  • The Ministry Playbook: Strategic Planning for Effective Churches

    by Henry Klopp. Publisher: Baker Books.

    Focuses on planning methodology.

  • The More – with – Less Church

    By Eddy Hall, Ray Bowman and Skipp Machmer

    Do more, spend less

    In challenging economic times, it is no surprise that churches must get creative with their resources. In The More-with-Less Church, the authors of the bestselling When Not to Build propose that church leaders look on these times as opportunities to reconsider ministry practices that may be siphoning time, money, and energy from their churches. Drawn from time- and field-tested strategies, this practical resource will help you avoid costly mistakes and maximize the return on investment in ministries, staffing, facilities, and finances.

    “The conventional church growth wisdom calls for bigger staff, bigger budgets, bigger buildings. The More-with-Less Church shows it’s possible to impact more people without breaking the budget or burning out staff.”–Drew Dyck, managing editor of Leadership Journal

    “This volume is chock-full of practical insights on how church leaders can free up more money for the real mission of the church–our impact BEYOND the church in helping people live better lives. The counterintuitive suggestions are just spot on.”–Reggie McNeal, author of Get Off Your Donkey!

    “The problem with many churches today isn’t a shortage of ministries, staff, buildings, or finances–but an abundance of all these resources that are overprogrammed, underutilized, or poorly managed. The More-with-Less Church shows how to maximize your church’s resources to fulfill its mission. Don’t start another program, hire another staff member, lay another brick, or raise another dollar until you read this book!”–Jim Tomberlin, author of 125 Tips for Multisite Churches

    The relationship among this book’s three authors is unique. Ray Bowman founded Living Stones Associates (LSA) in 1980. Eddy Hall succeeded him and now leads a team of ten consultants in addition to serving as head of staff at Hilltop Urban Church in Wichita, Kansas. Skipp Machmer joined LSA in 2011 and is being groomed to succeed Eddy. Skipp is executive pastor at Riverside Church in Big Lake, Minnesota.