By The Rev. Cathy Williams Pastor, Palm Springs UMC, Hialeah
The Rev. Cathy Williams
Pastor, Palm Springs UMC, HialeahRedeveloping The Congregation
By Sellon, Smith and Grossman
Most books that I have read about church transformation contain many of the same truths, and yet present them in a fresh way giving the reader a different perspective. "Redeveloping the Congregation: A How to for Lasting Change" is one of these books. The unique structure of this book takes the reader through eight phases of the process of transformation from the three-fold viewpoint of a mentor, a companion and a coach. As we study each phase in each chapter, we hear the three voices. First we encounter the "Mentor" who discusses theory, principles and concepts. Next, the "Companion" shares real-life situations and case studies. Finally the "Coach" presents practical and useful suggestions for implementing change.
Each chapter contains one of the eight tasks or steps of change which were identified by John P. Kotter and each chapter is divided in these three sections. This format makes the journey through the transitional process less daunting and intimidating. The "Mentor" is a good teacher who explains clearly the principles and theory the leadership of a transforming church needs to know to implement the change. The "Companion" is a compassionate observer who encourages the reader with personal experiences. This contributor is so honest with her story that you almost feel as if you have made a friend by the end of the book. The "Coach" calls us to reflect on actions taken or theological points and encourages journaling as a way to chart progress. This emphasis on journaling was also unique to the book. The questions the reader is asked to reflect upon are excellent and insightful.
The one weakness of the book was that it presents the process of transformation as linear and occurring in orderly fashion. It has been my experience that organic systems such as churches rarely do anything in perfect order. However, the neatness of the method as outlined in the book helps make it very readable and intelligible and easy to follow. Overall, the book is a good action/reflection method for church leaders to use as they progress through the transformation process. It is one you will want to keep with you through the entire journey.