How to survive big changes in a church

Through my work with Leadership Network, I’ve had incredible times to connect with church leaders all around the United States, and even a few around the world. I love to connect people to people and people to resources. The resource I want to connect you with is this new book by Scott Wilson, Steering Through Chaos: Mapping a Clear Direction for Your Church in the Midst of Transition and Change.

Scott Wilson is pastor of The Oaks Fellowship just south of Dallas. I first met him in Dallas at the Multi-Site Churches Leadership Community that I’m a part of managing, along with the church’s leaders, which included Justin Lathrop. What I love is the inviting vibe of their leaders, doing amazing things (by the grace of God) as a fast-growing church while also being personable, relational, and accessible. That’s what came through to me in my interactions with Scott and Justin, and this came through in Scott’s new book too. (cf. Download a sample chapter of Steering Through Chaos)

Watch this video of Scott Wilson talk about the book (cf. extended version):

What caught my attention with Steering Through Chaos were these things:

(1) Scott quotes so many other people in this book, like a synthesis of all that he’s gleaned from other church leaders! I didn’t fact-check, but the acknowledgements section would be dozens of pages if he were to list all the names of leaders mentioned in the book!

(2) Scott shares his own story of going through a massive church transition, that included relocation, building campaign, leadership transitions, personal challenges, and managing healthy relationships. This narrative approach sure makes the underlying principles much more understandable and practical. Yes, this book covers a lot of ground.

(3) The book speaks to personal health. In an early chapter, the author lists a stress chart to honestly show the reality of what changes do to people, and doesn’t ignore or overlook this in the name of being “spiritual” or bieng a “leader.” Being emotionally healthy is vital for short-term and long-term success, for both personal and organizational health. And, it means getting the help you need, whether a life coach, counselor, or whatever. I’m glad this is weaved in throughout the book.

(4) I love the way Scott has learned to pastor in that relational kind of way while still being a visionary leader. It’s not easy to keep moving towards finishing a task or reaching a goal, while also bringing people along. The book describes how Scott met personally with a hundred key leaders in preparation for a big church change, listening to their concerns and asking for their prayers. In similar fashion, big decisions are made with a unanimous concensus of the leadership team. Not easy to do in a church of any size, much less a larger kind of church with attendance in the thousands. I don’t think he wrote it, but the concept of “leaving no one behind” is very attractive to me and I think that’s the way it ought to be.

(5) Being spiritual. Unlike other leadership endeavors, the work of church leadership is a spiritual one. So the book weaves in the spiritual dependency & discerning aspects along with the personal, relational. and organizational aspects too. I prefer to say it’s holistic, though you could say comprehensive, too.

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10 Responses

  1. Joyce Newsome says:

    As a parishioner and having known Scott for about 16 years I can attest to his honesty and strategy in pastoring and building the church. He has come a long way and I will tell you that these strategies work. I have not met anyone more vested in relationships than he and his Dad. I take these tactics and apply them to my home church, my family, and see how it works the same way on a smaller scale. I have been in classes taught by Scott as well as being pastored and befriended by him.
    It is such a blessing to see how he gleans and learns and uses so many different experiences and events to bring all this together. As I read the book I can say, Yes, that is what happened. I can also say wow, now I see what what was happening when we went through this stage. Things are so much clearer and are helping in the next stage of our church growth.
    You will be surprised what you can get from this book. It is like having your very own tutor to growth and change.