I have always been fascinated by the intricate details that you can find by reading a map or an encyclopedia. Even as a child, I would pull maps from the glove box to follow a vacation route or sit for hours on a rainy day with the SA-ST volume of the encyclopedia. Now, the age of digital information has me hooked. This may be part of the reason I was originally drawn to Steering through Chaos, a new book by Scott Wilson. After all, the cover pictures a paper map and a GPS!
Based on the subtitle, Mapping a Clear Direction for your Church in the Midst of Transition and Change, I expected to find information that I would shelve until sometime later. I am currently in the initial stages of planting a church, and I was pretty sure that wasn’t the kind of transition he was talking about. However, the stated purpose is this: “We’re addressing God-sized visions, kingdom purposes, and major transitions that shape the future and effectiveness of our churches.” While the book is primarily addressed to leaders of growing churches, I also found that there is so much in these pages that I need right now. I believe I can be a more effective church planter by addressing these issues in the beginning stages. Rather than steering clear of chaos, I've learned that chaos can be a good thing.
I like to take notes as I read a new book, and I found myself wanting to write everything I read. I ended up with notes from about every page. Here are just a few of my scribbles:
p. 22 Change required hard decisions that would create tremendous pain.
p. 25 The effectiveness of the church’s ministry depends on an accurate analysis of the community.
p. 31 Leading transitions isn’t about changing the direction of the church or changing the staff. It’s about God changing me as a leader.
p. 50 Get solid leadership in place, then be ready for something new.
p. 52 Vision isn’t something I determine, it’s something I discover.
p. 69 Vision atrophies in people’s hearts.
p. 71 Vision is rock solid; strategy is flexible.
I could go on and on. There are lists, questions, examples, stories and so much that I have now included in my planning for Transformation House.
Besides being a map that I can easily follow, Scott, who pastors The Oaks in Dallas, also created a small encyclopedia of church growth. I’ve tried to figure out what he omitted, but I’m pretty sure everything is included. I expected topics such as Vision, Values and Goals, but I’ve never picked up a book that included those while also challenging me in areas of prayer, accountability, story-telling, honesty and multi-tasking. This book does just that – and more.
I would encourage ministry leaders to add this book from Zondervan to their libraries. I bet you’ll find it helpful too.