The major reason so many churches are plateaued or in decline is that they’ve either lost their vision or adopted the wrong vision; the key to re-envisioning churches that are able to plant healthy, robust churches is visionary leadership, especially on the part of the senior pastor, according to Aubrey Malphurs and Gordon Penfold in their book Re:Vision: The Key to Transforming Your Church. The problem is that church re-envisioning is a fairly new solution and most know very little about it.

The book is based on survey research which compares the DiSC and Myers-Briggs personality profiles of pastors of churches which have experienced at least a particular level of numerical attendance growth over a particular period of time with the profiles of pastors whose churches have not experienced the same level of numerical growth. Pastors of churches which have experienced the qualifying level of growth are assumed to be re-envisioning pastors. Based on the survey results, the authors draw particular conclusions as to desired personality traits for re-envisioning pastors.

The results actually showed that re-envisioning pastors had a range of different personality types. There were some predominant types, but correlation does not equal causation, and the survey methodology does not appear to have ruled out some form of selection bias. More importantly, I suspect that the authors have over-estimated the relationship between numerical growth and the personality characteristics of a church’s senior pastor. I suspect that effective church leadership is done by teams, not individuals, so the success of a church is more dependent on the team the senior pastor leads rather than on particular personality traits of the senior pastor.

In my view, personality tests are helpful for the purpose of understanding your default behaviours and weaknesses, but they are unhelpful if used as the sole means of determining whether you “have what it takes” to lead a church. No one person “has what it takes” to lead a church in his or her own strength. The best leaders are those who understand their weaknesses and make sure that other members of their team can cover for them.

Notwithstanding my issues with the survey’s methodology, the book does in my opinion point the reader in the right direction. It is critical for church leaders to create and cast a compelling vision which clarifies the direction of the church, motivates the people, creates energy and sustains ministry. It is also critical to create a culture which is aligned with the vision.

The purpose of a church board is ultimately to mind the “bottom line” of the church—to make sure the church is operating in such a way as to accomplish its mission; but the bottom line sometimes looks different to different people, according to Stan Toler in his book Stan Toler’s Practical Guide to Leading Church Boards. Even if all board members agree that the church’s purpose is to fulfill the Great Commission, the board members still may interpret success differently.

Thus it is necessary to reach at least broad agreement on the board’s purpose, roles and expectations. This book provides a useful guide to those three things in its first three chapters, and then goes on to discuss how to run effective board meetings, how to use the board to stimulate progress, how to conduct strategic planning and develop long-term strategies, how to manage conflict, and how to equip new board members.

Unfortunately the people who put themselves forward and get elected to church board positions often are not the best candidates for the roles. This short book provides some useful suggestions for proactive ways in which pastors can help to get the right people on the board and then help to get them aligned and working as a team. Church boards will always be imperfect, but there are nearly always ways in which their current level of functioning can be improved.

Engagement is powerful; it simply requires the right keys to unlock that power; the organization that gives its people the tools, encouragement, and freedom to become the best people they can be—to really, truly engage—will also find itself rising to unimagined heights of success, according to Tracy Maylett and Paul Warner in their book MAGIC: Five Keys to Unlock the Power of Employee Engagement.

My full review of the book is available at my business book reviews website.

When the four biggest advertisers in the Toad Hollow Gazette band together to demand a big cut to the newspaper’s advertising rates, the newspaper’s publisher, Hedgehog, is left with an awkward dilemma of the type faced by many business leaders in the face of digital disruption and the other forces which are making it harder to run a profitable business. The outcome of Hedgehog’s dilemma is described in the allegory by Jen Lawrence and Larry Chester,Engage the Fox: A Business Fable About Thinking Critically and Motivating Your Team.

My full review of the book is available at my business book reviews website.

Most businesspeople know how to manage their business down to the last product requirement and decimal place, but they don’t know how to lead their people with the same degree of sophistication, according to Timothy Thomas and Charles Tilden in their book Leading on Purpose: Sage Advice and Practical Tools for Becoming the Complete Leader. Star performers often race ahead of the people problems they leave in their wake, until they reach a point where their continued success depends on leadership skills they do not possess.

My full review of the book is available at my business book reviews website.

Moxie is the essence of what makes a leader tough on the inside and soft on the outside; these people know what it means to get knocked down, but better still they know how to get back up;  they also stick up for others, especially when the chips are down, and you want them on your side, and lucky for you, they most often are, according to John Baldoni in his book Moxie: The Secret to Bold and Gutsy Leadership.

My full review of the book is available at my business book reviews website.

If you’re an owner or manager of a small business, it is not enough just to offer high quality products or services; you have to do something to make potential customers or clients notice you. Jennefer Witter provides a wealth of ideas on how to attract an “unfair share” of attention in her book The Little Book of Big PR: 100+ Quick Tips to Get Your Small Business Noticed.

My full review of the book is available at my business book reviews website.

How does one become a better and faster learner, and how does one build an organization that is more adaptable and learns better and faster than the competition? Those are the questions which Edward Hess aims to answer in his book Learn or Die: Using Science to Build a Leading-Edge Learning Organization. The book aspires to synthesise recent developments in the understanding of how people learn, the role of emotions, and environmental factors which can assist or inhibit learning.

My full review of the book is available at my business book reviews website.

Your team members are creative and intelligent and want to make a difference; you can give them the permission they need to do this, according to Maxine Attong in her book Lead Your Team To Win: Achieve Optimal Performance by Providing a Safe Space for Employees. Embracing this concept will enable you to shift your leadership style, which will further your own goals and ultimately benefit your team’s performance.

My full review of the book is available at my business book reviews website.

To accomplish more, do less. To bear more fruit, prune. To see God work more powerfully through you, listen and obey and trust, and quit trying so hard. In our workaholic culture, these words almost always come as a surprise, but they are also almost always welcome words for weary spiritual leaders, according to Eddy Hall, Ray Bowman and Skipp Machmer in their book The More-with-Less Church: Maximize Your Money, Space, Time, and People to Multiply Ministry Impact. Embracing this basic truth that our ministry is more effective not when we do more, but when we do fewer things with our whole hearts, is the first step in becoming a more-with-less church.

The book goes on to describe several ways in which a church can achieve more with less:

  • More-with-less ministry: eliminating over-programming to concentrate on a small number of highly effective ministries
  • More-with-less staffing: concentrate on achieving more through team work and using paid staff more to equip others than to do the ministries themselves
  • More-with-less buildings: re-use existing buildings in multiple ways in preference to investing in new buildings
  • More-with-less finances: operate within the income God provides, instead of living by the world’s financial system.

The book contains plenty of advice which challenges common practices, supported by the extensive experience which the authors have had in church building and consulting over many years. Most church leaders will find in the book a range of possible solutions for problems which they are currently facing.