One clarification: PASTOR UNIQUE is about turnaround pastors in the sense of long-term (not transitional or interim) pastors, who seek to lead their stagnant congregations to Great Commission effectiveness. (Others prefer the terms revitalization pastors or redevelopment pastors.)
The authors allow for the possibility of its readers becoming serial turnaround pastors – who stay 5-10 years until a turnaround is completed and then move on and do it again – but it is not written specifically for those unusual individuals. It’s aimed primarily at the average – and frustrated – pastor of the average – and ineffective – congregation.
Here’s the backstory: We’ve heard the statistics dozens of times: 65-85% of American evangelical churches are plateaued or in decline. That’s a given.
The wonderful work of Aubrey Malphurs and Gordon Penfold (ReVISION: The Key To Transforming Your Church), demonstrated that most of our churches need what they call “ReVISIONING” pastors.
Our hurting churches need the best leaders and most of our churches are hurting churches.
Most future pastorates are going to need to be turnaround pastorates. Period.
But only about 10% of evangelical pastors are the natural born leaders capable of leading church turnarounds without serious training.
An additional 20% of pastors are not turnaround pastors and have no interest in becoming turnaround pastors. They might be loving men, but they are “sheep petters,” not shepherd-leaders.
Fortunately, that leaves the 70%. The 70% are not turnaround pastors yet, but they are capable of becoming turnaround leaders and they are interested in becoming what they need to become in order to do what God has called them to do.
This is where PASTOR UNIQUE comes in. Brown, Penfold and Westra maintain that we can identify the best practices of turnaround pastors, and with the help of the Spirit of God, accurate assessment, training, coaching and small groups of like-minded individuals, we non-turnaround-pastor types can become turnaround pastors.
The authors have a strong suggestion regarding the assessment tool needed: they highly recommend use of the Birkman Method. I took it and it was pretty revealing, though I’d concede that one could probably use the insights gained from other (less costly) personality assessments. (Ask me about this: I can help!)
Small group leadership needs to come from denominational/associational leaders teamed up with “10% pastors,” recruited to help the “70% pastors” become turnaround leaders.
This is not, of course, a simple formula. Learning to lead in ways which are contrary to our temperamental “bent” is hard work. I would be “exhibit A” for that truth. But I did change, and I’m still changing.
Our authors contend, and I agree, that we are far more likely to overcome our poor leadership habits if we gain a clear understanding of our strengths and weaknesses, learn how to leverage our strengths and overcome our weaknesses in an immersion training setting, receive personal follow-up from a ministry coach and ongoing peer-group encouragement in a turnaround pastor cluster group.
Denominational/associational leaders need to buy this book and use it as a model for helping pastors.
Effective pastor/leaders should buy this book and use it as a springboard for powerful ministry to their fellow pastors.
Pastors who desire to become turnaround leaders should buy this book, take the Birkman Method assessment (or equivalents) and get into a high-intensity small group for pastors, focused on the development of turnaround leadership skills.