About This Blog

Friday, July 28, 2017

"Learning Change" (Jim Herrington & Trisha Taylor)

TITLE: Learning Change: Congregational Transformation Fueled by Personal Renewal
AUTHOR: Jim Herrington & Trisha Taylor
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Ministry, 2017, (272 pages).

The challenges of Church ministry are many. How do we find the right fit between personnel and ministry? How do we transform aging structures? What can we do to freshen up? What are the ways to inculcate positive changes? How do we deal with tried-and-tested methods that are increasingly out of touch with contemporary times? What is needed to create a culture of continuous learning and willingness to change? Not only that, there is the challenge of declining congregations and an inability for churches to adapt to changing environments. These questions and more are covered in this impressive collection of articles by a group of passionate ministry leaders, pastors, teachers, and consultants. Together with 17 pastors and their leadership teams, the authors participated in the Rider Church Renewal process that consists of a five multi-day retreats; guidance programs; and learning modules, and found much hope and purpose in congregational transformation. It begins with a realization of the problem and a recognition that change is possible. This book is a result of that series of events. Every chapter contains both biblical and theoretical information gained from the Ridder Retreats. There are stories of hope; exercises to practice; and opportunities to dig deeper.

Divided into four parts, the central thesis of this book is that change is possible and the starting point for change is personal renewal.  Part One talks about the need to dream big and to cast vision for missional living. It is missional. The book promises big too by listing the keys to "real change." It is simply returning to dreaming. What are our dreams? What is God stirring up in us? Brian Stone reminds us the danger of letting our dreams being defined by how the world defines it. We cannot exchange the dream of God for transformation and renewal for the "American Dream of increasing ease and comfort." Our dream must be rooted in Christ. Drew Poppleton and Jim Herrington give us the "Transformational Learning Model." As disciples, we are to embark on learning as a way of life. This is our calling as disciples. Through the process of knowledge, practice, and reflection, we enter this cycle of learning as a discipline to prepare ourselves for change. This model pulls in the need for mental change, for mastery of disciplines, for stating reality, knowing the times, and the way forward in faith. First things first, we need to change ourselves. Here, Drew Poppleton about how we must avoid the path of hypocrisy and to embark upon change personally before talking about change corporately.

Part Two is about the core values that is related to a personal conviction and commitment. For personal change, we need Integrity; Authenticity; Courage; and Love. Each of these core attributes are dealt with by various contributors. Part Three is about the way we can change through mental shifts. This is my favourite part of the book where not only is there an overview of the different models presented, it challenges readers to mix-and-match. John Sparks shows us the need to shift from membership focus to missional mindset. We cannot simply take a course on discipleship and lose focus on missional focus. He advocates a mental model of discipleship that connects radical obedience; authentic community; and a reflective life together. Church leaders must be disciples themselves. Indeed, this is so often talked about that we miss practicing them sufficiently ourselves. There is the mental model of responsibility for self and for others toward emotional maturity. He makes a key observation that leadership is often weak due to three things: over-functioning; under-functioning; and lack of clarity. Michael DeRuyter advocates the spread of responsibility from self to others. As we learn to take responsibility for our own lives, we can then share our experiences and learning to others, hoping they too could do the same. For growth is deeply personal and we have to do our own assimilation or contextualization. Nate Pyle shows us the power to change from passive status quo to an active tension that empowers change. Such a tension is necessary to sustain a desire to change. Leadership is about upsetting any equilibrium in order to move the community to change for the better. He also shows us the need to embark upon systems thinking. John Sparks returns with an article on "High Performance Teams" that move beyond mere tasks toward recognizing the true issues of ministry.

Part Four provides practical tools for leadership and leading change. We learn about sharing our scriptural vows to remind ourselves of our covenantal promises with God. We learn to move beyond mere discussion of facts to active engagement in dialogue. We also learn to take flight from the ground of good intentions to the sky of measured accountability. These tools are meant to supplement the earlier chapters. They also double up as an exercise platform for those who want personal change and transformation.

Indeed, we need to go beyond program-centered or activity driven toward a community that cherishes learning and desiring positive change. The biggest enemy is complacency. We are all guilty of that at various junctures of our ministry involvement. We do not need an immediate issue to occur in order to change. We need to proactively see beyond our present comfortable states toward a goal in the future. This is vision. We also need to realign our resources toward a purposeful objective. That is mission. We need to let the gospel shine through not just within our faith communities but also in our neighbourhoods and communities we are part of. That is missional. Above all, change is nothing if we ourselves are not changed in the first place. Jesus didn't wait for the entire nation to be changed before embarking on the other nations. He started with 12. He focused on an inner circle of 3. He is in constant communion with 1: God. We can do the same. Pray that this book will empower and encourage readers and ministry leaders to embark upon change that will impact all generations within their churches and their communities. For any change to occur, begin with the leadership. Begin with the people around us. Begin with ourselves. In the meantime, for matters related to personal change with tools and formats to help, you might want to begin with this book.

Jim Herrington is conference leader, ex-pastor, and team leader at Faithwalking ministries that teaches, coaches, and empowers leaders toward change. Trisha Taylor is counselor, author, consultant, and speaker based in Houston, Texas.

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.


This book has been provided courtesy of Kregel Academic without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

No comments:

Post a Comment