T.J. Addington recently published a book entitled High Impact Church Boards. "This is written for those leaders who want to see their church become everything it can be under God. Those who want to maximize the missional impact of their congregation. It is for those not content with the status quo and who believe that a High Impact board is not only possible but is the only kind of leadership Christ would want for His church. It is for those who want healthier leaders, more intentional leadership paradigms and who long for empowered leadership structures and cultures in their congregations" (from the introduction).
Here is an interview I conducted with T.J. Addington regarding his new book.
What is your background & what led you to write on church boards?
My experience as a pastor in the eighties along with nearly thirty years as a board member or board chair has given me a great desire to see church boards function more effectively. Too often, boards are ineffective, slow, and frustrating for those who serve on them. For the past decade and a half I have consulted with boards and staff leadership teams to help them become healthy, intentional and empowered.
If your readers could only take one idea away from your book, what would you like it to be?
Healthy leaders who practice intentional leadership within empowered structures and cultures maximize their church’s ministry impact. Any group of leaders that wants to maximize their ministry impact will be helped by this book.
What authors have influenced your writing &/or your spiritual life?
I read voraciously and broadly. It is hard to pinpoint a few authors. My writing is influenced by good leadership authors but mostly by what God has called leaders to do in the New Testament so that the mission of the church is fulfilled.
You mention the business terminology “return on investment.” Talk a bit about “Return on Mission”.
All of us are involved in mission. The question is, are we getting the return on mission that we want to see in our congregations? Just as good business practices lead to a return on investment in the secular arena, well thought out, intentional and empowered ministry should bring a significant return on mission (more believers and better believers). We want to see significant results for the time, energy and funding we put into God’s work. Too often we settle for too little in the local church.
Ideally, how would you like to see this book used within the church?
I would like to see church staff and boards read through it together and work toward greater health in leadership, greater intentionality in where the church is headed and much greater empowerment for leaders, staff and volunteers. The book asks the critical questions in each of these areas and provides a clear roadmap for greater health, intentionality and empowerment. In addition, the book will be a great tool for the training of new staff and church leaders.
How can High Impact Church Boards be used with the EFCA’s Ten Indicators?
Mission and Vision Driven is one of the Ten Leading Indicators. This book directly speaks to how a church can be more missional in all that it does. Surveys of EFCA churches consistently indicate this Indicator is relatively weak in our churches so this book can strengthen the EFCA in that area.
What does your book offer that others on the same topic may not?
Many books challenge leaders to lead and to be visionary. Few books get to the practical issues of how you do this. When the publishing houses first saw the manuscript they said, there is no market for this. I knew they were wrong because church boards and leaders across the world are looking for help in the practical areas of getting the right leaders in leadership, being intentional in leading the church and moving from cultures and structures that inhibit to those that empower good leaders and good ministry. This book provides a clear roadmap for how your church can do better in all three areas. It is written for practitioners, not academics.
What do you see as a crucial topic facing the evangelical church at large today?
Many churches are irrelevant to society and the vast majority of churches are plateaued or in decline. Unless we again become missional and intentional as well as deeply empowered by God we will never fulfill the mission Jesus left the church of more believers and better believers.
In addition, many of the congregational governance systems in churches today are frankly barriers to good ministry. The third section of the book deals directly with what effective and empowered governance looks like and how to change governance systems that are no longer effective. This is a huge challenge to growing churches.
Would you explain the Six Dimensions of Leadership you talk about in your book?
Most church boards do not have a clear definition of what their job description is. Six Dimensional Leadership describes the six key responsibilities that the New
Testament defines for church leaders: keeping the spiritual power high, teaching the word for life change, protecting the flock, caring for the flock, equipping and unleashing people in ministry and intentional leadership.
You originally did not include the chapter on “Negotiating the Whitewater of Change” in your book. What happened to influence you to add that?
Actually, it was planned all along but was the last chapter to be written and is the last chapter of the book. Helping churches change is one of the key components of good leadership and one of the most difficult. Most leaders don’t address areas where change is truly needed because of their own fears about how people might react. My thesis is that while people are generally change resistant, good people will embrace needed change for missional reasons if leaders will negotiate the white water wisely. I lay out the steps to successfully negotiating that change process.
You can pick up a copy of this book here.