I’ve been rereading some of the leadership books stacked neatly on my office bookshelf as we seek to discover, equip, and engage new leaders in the church. As I read I am reminded how blessed we are to live in a time when there are so many good resources for someone who wants to keep learning. I believe that effective leaders are lifelong learners…and I’m glad to see that so many of the leadership “experts” agree with me!
Leith Anderson’s book “Leadership that Works” is one book I was glad I brought with me on my mountain retreat. As I leafed through the pages, it seems that I had dulled my share of pencils in underlining passages. There are obviously more principles and lessons in that book than I could relate to you. Although published in 1999, it’s amazing how on target Anderson was. Case in point, he lists a number of results of the busyness of church members on the ministry and mission of the local church. They are:
- Sunday evening church services have rapidly declined in attendance and existence…
- Short-term commitments have replaced long-term commitments.
- Preparation time is shrinking.
- Church activities are selectively attended.
- Sunday has become a day of catch-up.
- Churches have to compete.
Not all of this is related to the busyness of Americans, but it all rings true. One thing is for certain, things have changed. Church leaders can sit around bemoaning the changes and longing for the days of yore, but God calls us to keep moving forward. He hasn’t changed. Our mission hasn’t changed. The Gospel has changed. And the deepest need of men and women haven’t changed.
The challenge for the church is to hold tightly to what is essential and loosely to what is nonessential. We need the wisdom to know the difference. People need Jesus. They may not come when we open the doors and yell “Come and get it!” That doesn’t mean they need him any less. It simply means we need to take Jesus to them.