Gene Wood, author of Leading Turnaround Churches, gave a one-day seminar at Richview today. Gene’s book gave me some encouragement about a year ago, as we were wading through a pretty tough period of church life. I get the impression that Gene wrote his book to counter a lot of the popular wisdom on transitioning churches. It’s worth reading if you are in a church that’s plateaued or declining. Some quotes and highlights from his talk:
Megachurch pastors, and most of what they do, are completely irrelevant to what I need to do in my church. It’s not wrong; it’s just irrelevant. It’s like little league coaches spending all their time at the major league stadium. Is there a guarantee of survival in leadership? No, but I can choose how I’m going to die. I’m not going to stay and maintain dysfunction. Pastors are generally nice people. If niceness were the solution to our problems, our churches would be healthy. I’m going to help you be a little less nice. Biblically, a shepherd isn’t a cuddly, soft-handed cuddler of baby lambs. A shepherd is one of the toughest, roughest, loneliest people. A major study of churches concluded that every congregation that successfully adapted and flourished in a changing community had a substantial church fight. Those that chose to avoid conflict at all costs failed to flourish. No exceptions!
Gene told a few good stories. One was when he and his wife went through a drive-through of a popular chicken joint (not named, to protect the good Colonel). They ordered white meat, but the voice came through: “We don’t have any.” They ordered dark meat, but once again: “We don’t have any.” He wanted to ask, “Is there a third kind?” This chicken joint had salads, gravy, fries, desserts, every side dish you could think of – but no main dish. Gene wondered if this wasn’t unlike many of our churches. One more story: a mother was working in a garage when something fell on her. She asked her young child to get dad for help. The kid said, “Mom needs your help. She’s in trouble, but not the type where she needs a spanking.” That’s Gene’s take on many pastors: in trouble, but more in need of some help and encouragement than criticism.