“IMMANUEL LUTHERAN CHURCH”
In the introduction of his book “Change your church for Good,” Brad Powell offers a glimpse into the future of many churches if they refuse to change their methods and approaches to ministry. While most churches will refuse to have the honesty of the members of Immanuel Lutheran to actually bury their church, they will simply limp along in a death crawl while the world around them goes to hell. The main reason is not a lack of mission or purpose, but stubborn refusal to change with the times.
As a pastor who has been serving a transitioning church for eight years, I see in Powell’s book stories that come from my own life. I have asked the same questions, had the same arguments and struggled with the same barriers that Brad encountered. I only wish I had this book eight years ago. My hair may not be as gray and my eyes not quite as baggy.
When Brad expressed his sense of journey as he explored the reasons the church was not growing, he described all the usual suspects that are accused of church decline. The message, the world, the church itself are all excuses, but not reasons for the death of churches. The main issue that most church leaders will identify with for the lack of growth in the church is the lack of faith that we as leaders and the church body has in the power of God to accomplish something great.
As I wrestle with these issues, often on a Monday morning, I find myself looking through the lens of my own desires, my own passions, and my own measuring stick. What we often find is that we are measuring God’s immeasurable power and goodness with our perceptions of what is success. We measure the infinite with the finite. What is left is frustration, depression and discouragement in the life of the leader and therefore in the life of the church.
What Brad Powell offers is insight into defining the right measurements, asking the right questions and taking steps in the right direction without compromise of the truth of God. As someone who actually has done the hard work of ministry and moved from one paradigm to the other, Powell offers the ethos and the pathos to speak to the heart of church leaders. It is not a simple step by step formula of change in style and ministry that is needed, but rather a heart change in the leader to seek the power of God and the presence of the Spirit to move in the community in which the church exists.
Brad Powell offers hope for all of us who are fighting the same battles. He gives valuable insight into heart issues that reflect the character of God and the passion he has for his body, the church. Many people think church planting is the hardest job in ministry apart from living in a tribe in the middle of a jungle. While giving birth is difficult, adopting and changing cultures that are firmly rooted is no less challenging. The labor is painful, the process exhausting and the growth doesn’t happen overnight. But learning to move in the right direction, with the right heart desire, and moving at the leading of the power of God will “change Your Church for Good.”