Book Review: Who Moved My Pulpit? Leading Change in the Church by Thom Rainer
In the words of the Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus “The only thing that is constant is change.” There is much emphasis on change in the church these days. And it is justified. People change as they mature. It is how we maintain healthy relationships. Businesses change strategies to reach the newest generation of consumers. It is how they maintain a healthy business model. Likewise, if churches are going to remain healthy and reach the next generation of believers they, too, must be willing to accept that change may be necessary.
Businesses that refuse to change will not reach the new generation of consumers and they will go bankrupt. Likewise, churches must reach the next generation of believers or they too will die. In 1998 Dr Spencer Johnson wrote a book about change called Who moved my cheese. In it he states “if you do not change you become extinct”. The choice is simple: accept change or die.
In Who Moved My Pulpit? Leading Change In The Church, Thom Rainer gives church leaders an eight-stage roadmap to follow when leading change in the church. While the road map is certainly not a “quick-fix” solution, “it is a biblically sound and commonsensical approach to leading change” (pg 24). Dr. Rainer says “the roadmap has 8 stages. Though they are not perfectly sequential, there is a sense of orderliness to this process” (pg 25). Here is a simple overview:
- Stop and Pray. The crucial foundational issue often neglected in leading change.
- Confront and Communicate a Sense of Urgency. Facing and sharing the brutal facts with the congregation.
- Build and Eager Coalition. Most churches have at least a few members ready to move forward.
- Become a Voice and Vision of Hope. Members look to leaders for hope and possibilities.
- Deal with People Issues. The courage to handle people blockage, both staff and church members.
- Move from an Inward focus to an Outward Focus. Steadily moving the church beyond mostly focusing on herself
- Pick Low-Hanging Fruit. Clear victories are necessary to sustain positive momentum.
- Implement and Consolidate Change. Gospel urgency never ends. Complacency is always a danger.
At a time when nine out of ten churches are losing ground in their own communities there is hope. In order for churches to regain lost ground change must happen. It comes down to this: change or die. I cannot praise Who Moved My Pulpit? Leading Change In The Church enough. Dr. Rainer masterfully lays out a biblical roadmap to leading change.
If you are considering change or are in the middle of change you need this book. Do yourself, and your church, a favor and get a copy of this book.