Growth and change

Growth and Change (Book Review)

A must-read for church leaders who long for their churches to be all that they could be: growing in number and in likeness to Christ.

This is, above all, a “why?” book and it is so important that it is.

Unless we get the “why?” right and feel something of God's heart for the lost and his mission to the world, we can end up either ‘just running church things’ - like an engine idling but going nowhere - or become lost in techniques, driven by the latest and greatest fad to overtake the church, in order to make a difference.

Andrew Heard (pastor, and Chairman of the Australian FIEC) won’t let you do that.

In Growth and Change, with great passion, wisdom, and skill, he carefully and honestly puts his finger on issue after issue that stops leaders and churches from being all they could be.

Dangerous passion

Surprisingly, Andrew starts with a warning about the danger of having a passion for the lost and church growth.

But he then turns up the heat by drawing on the Lord’s own words about his mission and priorities: the great work of atoning for our sins on the cross, rescuing us from the eternal damnation we deserved, and leading to new birth for countless people.

This is the central reality in the plan of God: to reconcile people to himself and bring them into a right and maturing relationship with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Andrew argues that this must mean growth – numerically and in likeness to Christ.

He then helps us theologically with common concerns and confusion about ideas such as faithfulness and fruitfulness, numbers, principles, pragmatism, and growth. No wonder Don Carson wrote such a fulsome foreword - there is great precision here as he handles multiple truths and holds them in their proper tension.

He verbalises what many pastors experience in their leadership lives: that there are many responsibilities and things are complex!

But he also so helpfully clarifies what will help us lead more effectively for Christ.

A mindset for gospel impact

In the second half of the book, he unpacks his familiar emphasis on ‘inputs and outputs’. But this is never crass or simplistically reductionistic nor is it merely another technique amongst many others.

Rather, it is mindset that helps leaders and churches focus on what is ‘of first importance’ without saying everything else is unimportant, a change in thinking that can lead to greater gospel impact.

You (thankfully) won’t find ‘10 steps to achieve this’ or ‘5 keys for that’ in this book, but it should unsettle you before it reassures you and resets you on gospel work.

One of his favourite metaphors says so much: churches are like lifeboats in seas where millions are drowning. We can never just sit back and relax while we are on the incessant Search-and-rescue mission that the Lord has given us. It’s the only time in our whole eternity when we can be part of it!

The appendix contains suggestive ideas on some of the changes a leadership team and church will want to consider as the book touches them. Each chapter ends with further Bible reading, questions, and quotes for similar reflection.

Andrew never pretends that church leadership is ‘sure-fire’, easy, or pleasant. But what a joy and delight it is to see people rescued and transformed into the likeness of the one who died for them.

It’s a cliché but, in this case, it’s so richly deserved: THIS IS A MUST READ!

You can order a copy of Growth and Change from 10ofThose for £8.49 (RRP £9.99).

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