Book Review of TRANSITIONS: Leading Churches Through Change

December 5, 2014

A Book Review of Transitions: Leading Churches Through Change

by David N. Mosser, ed.

When I graduated seminary in 2005, I didn’t realize I was entering ministry during what I have come to call “The Age of Leadership.”  The ever-expanding reading lists on the topic has put the leadership section of my library in a constant state of transition.  Where shelf space is valuable real estate, a title that recently found a home isTransitions: Leading Churches Through Change, edited by David Moser.

Moser has compiled a collection of essays from various church and academic leaders addressing various aspects of congregational change and transition.  Rather than a how-to manual, each essay reads more like a field report from someone who has navigated a particular aspect of congregational change, and not always successfully.  A few of the contributors can’t help offering advice and “17 time-honored principles to do such-and-such,” but most avoid this sort of banal list-making and lecturing the reader.  Instead, each offers their own story and things they stumbled upon in their own context.

The reality is that all our congregations face change and transition of some sort.  The church I serve spent its first 110 years as a small, rural, congregation (“Pastor, it used to be nothing but tobacco fields, and the road was just a little two-lane country path”) and the last 15 years figuring out how to be a suburban congregation as Northwest Greensboro surrounded it.

The transition every congregation faces is different.  Whether your congregation is facing changing demographics, re-missioning opportunities, finds itself on a charge realignment for the first time, is figuring out how to welcome its first female/young/retired/second-career/part-time/white/black/etc. pastor (or its third or fourth but it “just isn’t ready yet”), is saddled with the facility and program expectations of yesteryear without the families or funds to support either, consider Transitions as encouragement and a narrative to share with your congregation about how this has been navigated before.

Rev. A.J. Thomas, Pastor, Morehead United Methodist Church  
Leadership Development