Resilient Ministry [Book Reaction]

Resilient Ministry (A Review)

Book by Burns, Chapman, & Guthrie

Ministry life is often idealized as a warm, simple way of life that helps others get caught up in the same as we walk in Christ together. That’s at least one ideal. I bet you can imagine others.

What’s been discovered is that the ideals held in ministry often clash with expectations others hold. This obviously causes friction which at times leads ministers to look for other things to do instead of traditional, church ministry.

We’ve been hearing alarms signaling this friction for a while now and we’ve been looking for ways to bring healing to it.

The book Resilient Ministry by Burns, Chapman, and Guthrie, (IVP), is going to be a helpful tool for individuals, staffs, and professional church worker groups. The book is designed to start dialog on the clash between ideals and expectations and through dialog (or personal meditation), health and restoration can take place.

Resilient Ministry begins with the great ideal-uncovering question, “What is ‘excellence?'” The authors say that excellence isn’t success by the standards (spoken or not) held around you, and it isn’t bare faithfulness – a stick it out-ness that hopes for smoother waters. Success, they say, is fruitfulness, which they define as, “[leaders] sharing their faith and nurturing the fruit of God’s grace in their own lives and in the lives of others.” (p.13)

The natural, next question comes: “How do we do that and do it with vitality and resilience?”

Here, the authors target five areas they label as necessary for leadership resilience in fruitful ministry. They say ministers and leaders need to work on these items first for themselves and then for the people around them:

1.) Spiritual Formation

2.) Self-Care

3.) Emotional and Cultural Intelligence

4.) Marriage and Family

5.) Leadership and Management

The remainder of the book is a well-balanced writing of research, personable examples, and conversation provoking questions that I believe will help individuals and groups process the question of resilience and health in their ministries. This will then, as the book’s thesis goes, help ministers be fruitful in the process of growing in grace.

I enjoyed reading and thinking through the questions myself. I also think that this book would fit very well in ministry peer gatherings or for church staffs. The questions alone provide excellent material to clarify ideals, expectations, and the necessities for nurturing fruitfulness.