VISION

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 |

VISION

  • Developing a Vision for Ministry in the 21st Century

    by Aubrey Malphurs. Publisher: Baker.

    Provides theory principles and practices for leading your ministry with vision.

  • Making Vision Stick

    by Andy Stanley. Publisher: Zondervan.

    Focuses on vision implentation.

    Click to see full review

    Purpose

    To help the ministry leader analyze and critique his own leadership./p>

    Content

    He recommends three ways to help vision stick:

    •    Cast vision strategically: defining your vision

    •    Celebrate vision systematically: regularly rejoicing in the successes

    •    Live your vision continuously: putting your vision into practice in your own life.

    He goes on to note how the vision statement for the church must be simple and memorable. He notes how it is better to have vision statement simple and incomplete rather than complete but too long to remember. It is up to the leader to help those following him to see the vision the leader has embraced.

    Analysis

    This is a quick, easy read that is full of practical suggestions for leading your church.

    Application

    Who will benefit from this book?

    Pastors and other leaders

    How will they benefit from this book?

    It can assist you with analyzing and measuring the progress you are making with your ministry vision casting.

    Where does this book fit in the ministry design process?

    It is a tune up to be used at any point in your ministry.

  • Management Essentials for Christian Ministries

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

    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)

  • 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

  • Proven Concepts of Church Building and Finance

    by Patrick L. Clements. Publisher: Kregel Academic & Professional.

    Step by step instructions

    Click to see full review

    Purpose:
    The main purpose was to provide a step- by-step guide to successful building projects but I want to emphasize the importance of the vision process necessary for every project to be successful.

    Content:
    The author covers a number of steps that are involved in the planning, design and construction process such as financing, capital campaign, building committee development and engaging with professionals.

    Analysis:
    The chapters on vision development and sharing the vision are critical whether your ministry is building or not. For these two chapters alone I recommend this book. The other chapters are an added bonus to chapters 2 & 3 on vision.

    Application:
    Who will benefit?
    The pastor and his building team

    How will it benefit?
    It will educate the readers and help them get their process in order at the front end of discovering and developing their vision

    Where does it fit in the process?
    At the frontend – first with the pastor and then his building team

    Aha Thought:
    “Out of your mission statement will grow a vision statement that will express specifically how you intend to accomplish the mission of the church.  The mission statement is what you get up every morning and do.  The vision statement expresses where you expect to be a checkpoints A, B, C, and D as you work toward accomplishing your mission.” (p. 34)

  • 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.”

  • 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 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 Power of Vision: Discover and Apply God’s Vision for Your Life & Ministry

    by George Barna. Publisher: Regal.

    Focuses on the impact of a clarified vision

    Click to see full review

    Purpose

    To teach pastors how to discover, discern, develop and implement God’s vision for their ministries.

     

    Content:

    The book covers the history of vision in scripture and gives the definition of vision. It dispels myths that hinder vision, gives the characteristics of vision and how to implement and measure the results of your vision.  It provides help for leading a congregation through the process of visioneering.

    Analysis:

    This book’s first printing was in 1992 and it is as relevant to our ministries today as it was back then.  It should help you develop the structure that is foundational to your ministry’s vision.

    Application:

    Who will benefit?
    Leaders of any king but particularly senior pastors

    How will it benefit?
    Step by step guide to visioneering.

    Where does it fit in the process?
    Planning stage.

    Aha Thought:

     

    “A vital part of knowing His vision is to be still and attentive long enough to hear Him.  The leaders of American Christian churches are generally people who feel they are successful only when they are active.  God, however, seems to speak most clearly to Christian leaders when they are inactive; that is, when they have made a conscious effort to allow Him to lead the conversation and to impart wisdom in His own way, in His timing.  This requires you to spend much time allowing Him to direct your thoughts.  The unsettling part of this process is that you must clearly allow Him to be in control.  That is a tough reality for many leaders to accept.

    During those prayer times when you are imparting your requests, be sure to ask Him to prepare you for the vision and to communicate to you with clarity.  When you believe you have heard and understood that vision, be sure to ask Him to bless it to His glory.”(p. 81)

  • Turning Vision into Action

    by George Barna. Publisher: Regal Books.

    Focuses on application

    Click to see full review

    Purpose:
     It is intended to be a hands-on manual for implementing vision. “The heartbeat of this book is to underscore the centrality of vision in our lives and to support that heartbeat with practical steps and insights in becoming a visionary leader, whatever your stature or position in life might be.”

    Content:
    The author first wrote The Power of Vision.  As he travelled and assisted leaders with their vision, a set of reoccurring questions kept being presented to him.  Below are just some of the questions that he addresses in the book:

    • Can anyone be a visionary or this the domain of unusually gifted and specially called people?
    • Does vision require targeting a specific people group or demographic segment? Doesn’t that conflict with Jesus’ ministry of reaching out to everybody?
    • Doesn’t vision make a ministry too narrow?
    • How do leaders integrate the vision for their corporate ministry (e.g., a church) with the vision for their personal ministry?
    • How do you measure whether the vision has been fulfilled?
    • Does the vision change if a church calls a new pastor?
    • What can be done if a church does not have a visionary pastor?
    • Can a church pursue an effective ministry if it has a sense of mission but does not have an articulated vision?
    • How can a visionary persuade those people who resist the vision to embrace it?
    • What if your personal vision for ministry differs from the vision articulated by your church? Should you stay and adapt, stay and fight, leave with a fuss or leave quietly?
    • How long should you wait before developing a new vision?

    Analysis:
    This book answers the “rubber meets the road questions” when you apply the concepts of visioneering.  It addresses the difficult challenges that rise to the surface of your efforts to lead your ministry through the process of accomplishing your God-given mission.  It is a jewel of a book.  While you may not agree with all of his conclusions, it can lead you through your own journey.

    Application:
    Who will benefit?
    Ministry leaders

    How will they benefit?
    It will help them navigate their way through the application of vision development

    Where does it fit in the ministry design process?
    At the front end of vision development

    Aha Thought:
    “At its core, vision is a style of thinking, a process of dealing with current and future reality.  It is not, as many people consider, a program waiting to be implemented.”
    “Contrary to my initial beliefs, I have found – through further biblical exploration as well as more prolonged observation – that vision is not dumped in people’s minds by God all at once, but it is progressively revealed to them.  This process of incremental revelation is, in itself, fascinating to study because of what it teaches us about God’s love for, and protection of, us.” (p. 13)

  • Visioneering

    by Andy Stanley. Publisher: Multnomah Publishers.

    An in-depth look at developing vision for your ministry

    Click to see full review

    Purpose:

    To teach us how to discover, develop and maintain God’s Vision for our ministries.

    Content:

    Nehemiah’s story is the basis for the author’s teaching. The following are some of the topics that are discussed:

    •   The birth of a vision.

    •   The place of prayer and planning.

    •   The essential need for faith.

    •   Communicating vision.

    •   The value of vision.

    •   How to handle resistance and criticism.

    •   How to handle distractions.

    •   How to maintain the vision.

    Analysis:

    This is a helpful book that truly fulfills its purpose of educating us how to discern, develop and then maintain vision for any ministry.  There is a wealth of knowledge available that can guide you through the process of discerning God’s vision for your ministry.

    Application:

    Who will benefit?

    Pastors and leaders of ministries of all sizes.

    How will it benefit?

    It provides inspiration, education, and encouragement to work through the process to develop vision for your ministry.

    Where does it fit in the process?

    It flows from the development of your core values and mission.

    Aha Thought:

    “Visioneering is the course one follows to make dreams a reality.  It is the process whereby ideas and convictions take on substance.  As the story of the Wright brothers illustrates, visioneering is the engineering of a vision.  If I were to boil is down to a formula, it would look something like this: VISIONEERING = INSPIRATION + CONVICTION + ACTION + DETERMINATION + COMPLETION.”(P. 8)