I want to recommend a book that is particular helpful for local church ministry: The Character of Leadership: Political Realism and Public Virtue in Nonprofit Organizations, by Michael Jinkins and Deborah Bradshaw Jinkins (Jossey-Bass, 1998).
The primary focus of the book is on the practical dimension of leadership in complex church and nonprofit situations. It is probably the best book written on the mechanics of leadership in a church setting in the last twenty years, maybe more.
I use the book in the course The Life and Work of the Pastor. I also use the following: Will Willimon’s, Pastor: theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry; Ronald Sisk’s, The Competent Pastor; and Cecil Sherman’s, Good and Faithful Servant (based on his lectures in the Life and Work class he taught at BTSR for a dozen years).
Willimon and Sisk provide a healthy theology of pastoral ministry and touch on a number of practical concerns. Sherman’s book includes pastoral theology but focuses more sharply on practical aspects of ministry.
The Jinkins book is primarily about the minister’s use of power, influence, in the life of a congregation or nonprofit. Part of what makes the book intriguing is the primary metaphor that is woven into the presentation, Machiavelli. On the face of it, one might think Machiavelli a poor backdrop for conversations about ministry in a local church ---- but, then again.
I don’t expect ‘the use of power’ will eclipse other favorite ministerial terms like ‘Grace,’ ‘forgiveness,’ ‘love,’ or ‘redemption’ any time soon. Yet, ‘the use of power’ is a profoundly critical issues if ministers plan to actually get anything of consequence done in a congregational setting; move a church from “A” to “B.”
The Jinkins book provides a pattern for changing and transforming a congregation in the midst of a healthy conversation about pastoral leadership in general.
My interest in the Jinkins book in a seminary class is focused on a need I perceive in local congregational ministry; especially among moderate leaning ministers. Moderate ministers are really good about praying, preaching, and truth telling; we are not so good at nudging, building a consensus, and transforming a church’s culture.
Two years ago Cecil Sherman and I taught the Life and Work class together. We negotiated any number of issues about class content and structure. Cecil was not willing to give up the topic of the primary paper in the class, “Why Moderate Baptist Pastors have such a hard time with leadership?” The Jinkins book answers this basic question.
Other books I suggest to students in the class include: Miller-McLemore & Gill-Austern, Feminist and Womanist Pastoral Theology; Erdahl, 10 Habits for Effective Ministry; Oswald, Personality Type and Religious Leadership; and Setland, Facing Messy Stuff in the Church: Case Studies for Pastors and Congregations.
Grace and Peace,