Book Reviews: Leadership that Fits Your Church

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Leadership that Fits Your Church: What Kind of Pastor for What Kind of Congregation by Cynthia Woolever & Deborah Bruce (Chalice Press)

book woolever200What is a pastor’s life like? What gives pastors enjoyment and what drives them to distraction? What makes their work meaningful, and what causes burnout and dropout? What are different leadership styles pastors use, and which one works best in what type of congregation?

Leadership that Fits Your Church addresses these and other questions. The book summarizes the U.S. Congregational Life Survey, a Lilly Foundation-funded poll of more than 500,000 worshippers and their pastors.

The importance of clergy and laity understanding the needs and issues of ministerial life cannot be understated. One pastor, dealing with disgruntled church members, came to understand: “It doesn’t matter whether you’re serving a church of 60, 600 or 6,000. There will always be six people who drive you crazy.” As big a grin as I got from that, it was quickly erased by the statistic that 39 percent of conservative pastors are ready to leave their current post—and maybe ministry altogether.

The authors tackle such issues as the pastors’ physical health, marital status, time management, conflict levels, salaries and a host of other variables that affect the success and satisfaction of ministers. These findings are used to look at how pastors have an impact on the health and growth of their congregations. Chapters on the leadership styles of pastors—inspiring, transformational or servant—demonstrate how each style can work in the right place and situation, or each style can lead to a poor match between pastor and church.

A number of features make this an enjoyable book. There is a brilliantly funny cartoon before each chapter. Chapters are short. They contain real-to-life vignettes to illustrate each subject, and easy-to-decipher charts punctuate the pages. Each chapter ends with a set of separate questions for pastors and for lay leaders for self-reflection or group study, so the application of the book is really universal in church life. For serious scholars, the appendix is full of bibliography and methodology.

Karl Fickling, coordinator

Interim church services

Baptist General Convention of Texas




The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say About Human Origins by Peter Enns (Brazos Press)

book enns200Jigsaw puzzles consist of three types of tiles—border pieces, interior pieces and occasional misplaced pieces that either are missing or don’t seem to belong. Peter Enns aims to recategorize the puzzling pieces of Christianity and evolution. Since Darwin, many conservative Christians have affirmed the place of a historical Adam and labeled most—if not all—evidence of evolution as misplaced. Enns—a distinguished Old Testament scholar and current professor of biblical studies at Eastern University—argues precisely the opposite.

The first part of his book frames evolution, as well as biblical criticism and biblical archeology, as essential border pieces of the puzzle. Then in the second part of the book, he concludes the Adam piece does not belong.

Enns asserts the theological implications of Adam, primarily in the Apostle Paul’s epistles, do not necessitate Adam’s historicity. The controversial nature of such claims, unfortunately, will turn many Christians away, despite Enns’s evangelical confession.  His extensive knowledge of the Bible, particularly the ancient Near Eastern context in which much of it was written, offers both helpful and needed viewpoints for the puzzle at hand. The book’s examination of both biblical criticism and biblical archeology, presented accessibly, makes it a thought-provoking read. 

Whether or not Enns has the solution to the question of human origins, Christians interested in attempting to tackle the scattered puzzle pieces of modern science and of faith need to read The Evolution of Adam.

Brian Spence, student

Dallas Theological Seminary




The Awesome Book of Hilarious & Heavenly Cartoons by Jonny Hawkins (Harvest House Publishers)

book hawkins200Longtime Baptist Standard readers will recognize the cartoons of Jonny Hawkins as a frequent fixture on the “Response” page of the newspaper. With a knack for clever wordplay and off-kilter insights into both the Bible and everyday church life, Hawkins offers his humorous perspective on the life of faith.

A Bible verse accompanies each cartoon, and cartoons are indexed both by Scripture reference and topic. Hawkins takes his subject matter—but not himself—seriously.

The “hilarious” label fits at least some of the cartoons assembled in this book. While most won’t leave many readers laughing out loud, nearly all will evoke a smile and warm feelings—particularly among teachers, preachers and church publication ministry assistants. Churches with fewer than 1,000 people have permission to reproduce the cartoons for local use in bulletins, newsletters or sermon/lesson illustrations. Larger churches can contact the publisher for permission. That makes this slender volume immensely helpful to many congregations—and will leave its target audience pronouncing it both “awesome” and “heavenly.”

Ken Camp, managing editor

Baptist Standard



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