The Rev.Jack Stephenson
Pastor, Anona UMCLargo, FL
What Have We Learned?
Lessons for the Church in the 21st Century
Lyle E. Schaller
This book, (also called "The Best Thinking on Congregational Life") is a great read for pastors and churches wanting to take part in our conference’s transforming initiative. It differentiates between the kind of thinking that preserves the past, leading toward decline, and a mindset that works toward transformation for the present and future. It is good guidance for three populations:
First, for those in churches who feel they are out on the cutting edge often, it is great affirmation for your leadership. It gives you clarity about why you are out there. For those in this population who have accomplished multiple formats of worship, income streams beyond the offering plate, demographic analysis as a visioning tool, staffing for the aspired future, real estate acquisition for parking and other moves that divide churches into old guard and new thinkers, this will be a good "This is why we did that." Also, as edgy as you may feel, it is a comprehensive read of what you should be thinking about in your visioning sessions.
Second, for those wishing to be in transformation it gives a grocery list of agendas from which to pick as areas of focus. Along with these comes a general mindset needed in order to communicate to the congregation the necessity of forward motion based on vision and study. It would be an effective leadership read in order to stimulate dialogue on priorities for expenditure of energy and resources.
Third, for those of you who feel that you are lost in a sea of confusion about church development and congregational leadership this is a compass. It points toward a way of thinking about the church that will move you from indecision toward commitment to ideals consistent with good stewardship of God’s Holy Church.
What has Changed and how would we adjust to it?
The value of Diversity over Uniformity in worship and other areas.
The reason we do Need Based Evangelism.
Grace versus Law orientation
Movement from Obligation to Excitement
Cash flow streams
Renewing the old versus Creating the New
44 Categories for Congregations
and… what is working out there!
All this is done with bullets, outlines, and lists of things to think about in each area.