Monday, June 18, 2012

BookPastor >> "Twelve Dynamic Shifts for Transforming Your Church" (E. Stanley Ott)

TITLE: Twelve Dynamic Shifts for Transforming Your Church
AUTHOR: E. Stanley Ott
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2002, (118 pages).

What does a transformed Church look like? Are we aware of what it takes to move from a Church that is stuck in the rut, to a vibrant witnessing community for God? In twelve clear and convicting ways, pastor E. Stanley Ott shows us the way, 12 ways to be precise. The challenge is to shake up old routines in order to breathe in new life. These twelve shifts happen to be a consolidation of all the big ideas learned from seminars, conferences, training sessions, and lectures the author has benefited from. Written especially for leadership, Ott puts it in this handy volume that enables any interested leader to jump in, to learn, and quickly apply.

Ott begins by agreeing with the observation of Dallas Willard that the mainline church has been largely ineffective in discipling their congregations. More often assumed than assisted, members fail to live out a vibrant, deliberate spiritual life that exhibits faith, hope, and love in growing dimensions. Ott categorizes the Church in terms of the traditional, the transitional, and the transformational, and shows us their differences in at least six ways.

  1. LEADERSHIP: In Traditional churches, the pastor or leaders are the primary doers of ministry while the transformational church has a much larger base of servants.
  2. WORSHIP: Traditional churches adopt mostly one kind of music, liturgy, or church tradition while transformational types adopt a variety and blends them accordingly.
  3. FELLOWSHIP / MISSION: Traditional churches separate the two while transformational enables both fellowship and mission to co-exist and to intermingle in such a way that every fellowship is like an outreach, and vice versa.
  4. PARTICIPATION: Traditional churches have many members with low commitments, especially in serving, while transformational churches tend to have a broad base of serving people right across generations and church groups.
  5. MINISTRY: Traditional churches see ministry as formal duties while transformational ones tend to embrace ministry both inside and outside the church.
  6. GOVERNANCE: Traditional churches emphasize control, while transformational churches adopt empowerment. 
Church in transitions have a bit of both traditional and transformational. Here are the 12 dynamic shifts in four categories. The first three covers the "vision and expectation" for the church. Shifts 4-6 talk about ministry and people. Shifts 7-9 involves the congregational program. The final three talks about the practice of leadership.
  1. "Shift from your present hopes for your congregation's future to the high expectations that God has a vital future for your church."
  2. "Shift from merely running programs to implementing a vision for ministry."
  3. "Shift from a maintenance mentality to a sustaining and advancing vision."
  4. "Shift from an emphasis on friendliness to a ministry of friendliness and hospitality."
  5. "Shift from assuming discipleship to developing discipleship."
  6. "Shift from a primary emphasis on the communal life of the church to a balanced emphasis on the communal and missional life of the church."
  7. "Shift from an unchanging worship format to a ministry of worship and music responsive to the variety of needs present in the congregation and in the community you want to reach."
  8. "Shift from primarily audience-oriented programming (eg. worship services, classes) to a balance of audience-oriented ministry and face-to-face ministry (eg. small groups, one-on-one spiritual direction)."
  9. "Shift from adding new people to established groups to adding new groups."
  10. "Shift from a 'leader-deploying' ministry to a 'leader-developing' ministry, from committees to ministry teams."
  11. "Shift from a controlling leadership to a permission-giving 'sending' leadership."
  12. "Shift from a pastor-centered/officer-centered ministry to shared ministry among pastor, officers, and congregation."
Each shift comes with a brief explanation followed by questions for reflection and discussion. They are also supported by Scripture and occasionally, Ott throws in some illustrations and stories. On implementation, Ott uses real life examples in chapter 8 to prove that these shifts are practical and doable. As an added bonus, there is a bibliography of books and literature for the interested reader to read and learn more about each shift.

My Thoughts

The key benefit in reading this book is to use it to ask honest questions about our own church. I figure that most of us will identify more with the transitions of the "transitional" church model, with different parts of the church more traditional, and others more transformational. It is hard to see any church being of any one type.  Well-written and laid out, this book will be a good resource in any leadership that is seeking to transform the way that they do church. 


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