Over the last few weeks during my travels I’ve been devouring the book, Effective Church Leadership by Ken Callahan. Now, in the circles of pastors that I run, this isn’t typically on the top of anyone’s reading list. But, it should be.
I’ve come to the conclusion that this book needs to be reedited and reprinted and retitled as: Organizational Leadership for Missional Churches” (I’m convinced this book is so important and helpful I am in the midst of seeking to convince the author to do just that).
Dr. Callahan is able to do something that is, unfortunately, rare. He’s able to give helpful organizational leadership principles, guidance and advice to churches and pastors who are trying to understand how to lead communities of faith in our post-Christian context.
Now, this is what makes this book amazing to me: Ken wrote this book in 1990. Yes, 1990. For some frame of reference, that’s 8 years before the landmark book Missional Church by Darrell Guder was published.
Keeping that in mind, read some of the quotes from this book:
“In our time, a new understanding of the nature of leadership needs to be grown forward. We need a foundational understanding that the focus of leadership will be in the world, not in the church.” (21)
“A mission outpost is more of a people than a place. It is a grouping-a team of people-gathered at the front lines of human hurts and hopes.” (28)
“The missional leader understands that to be faithful is “to be faithful to the mission,” not to success. Indeed, the missional leader redefinds success as mission. For the missional leader, one does the mission for the sake of the mission. If, as a by-product, there is success (as the world defines success, such as church growth), the missional leader praises God and continues in faithfulness to the mission. The leader does not allow the success of growth to alter his or her mission.” (83)
“The missionary pastor’s second task is, in a relational way, to construct new communities of reconciliation, wholeness, caring and justice.” (200)
This sounds like some of the stuff I heard at the last two conferences I was at over the last few weeks. Oh, and by the way Ken is somewhere around 75 years old. He’s no hip young pastor with a soul patch and cool black framed glasses and a shaved head. Frankly he’s old. But frankly, he gets it and is saying things that said pastor(s) need to listen to carefully.
Much of this book is spent working through key issues that churches just like mine need to think through carefully if we are going to have any longevity. The issue isn’t making our organizations institutional and bureaucratic. Rather the emphasis is exactly the opposite. Its about leading and sustaining missional (mission focused) churches. The main topics Dr. Callahan writes about are mission, leadership and decision making, and organization. (Coincidently, these are the topics that I hear my fellow young pastors begging for more education).
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be interacting with some of the topics in his book because a) I believe this information needs to be shared b) because it’s been so helpful to us at The Well and c) because I think you should buy the book.
If you do buy the book, or have read the book, I’d love to hear your thoughts.