So with all this godly desire, why isn't that happening for such good, conscientious people? I think Kevin Ford's book, Transforming Church: Bringing Out the Good to Get to Great, compellingly answers that question, and gives hope and direction for "getting to great."
Over and over as I read Transforming Church, I found myself nodding at depictions and dilemmas that are all too familiar from my thirty-plus years of ministry to four growing churches. Ford, who writes from the perspective of an experienced consultant to churches, says, "This book is about churches that have the courage to embrace change and to confront adaptive issues head on--what I call transforming churches." He identifies five common, crippling dysfunctions of unhealthy churches (which correspond, not coincidentally at all, to dysfunctions in Western culture) and contrasts them with their healthy opposites:
- How church members relate to one another (consumerism vs. community)
- The church's "genetic code," often unwritten and even unacknowledged (incongruence vs. code)
- The church's leadership culture (autocracy vs. shared leadership)
- How the church relates to the surrounding community (cloister vs. missional)
- How church members see the future (inertia vs. reinvention)
The book's tone can be a little "consultanty" (a word I just made up), but it is so full of stories-that-ring-true and information-that-makes-sense, it should be devoured by every church leader and applied to every church. It would have made a huge difference in every church I have served, and I sincerely pray that it will find universal acceptance among the churches, leaders, and pastors I know.