Book Review: When Your Church Feels Stuck: 7 Unavoidable Questions Every Leader Must Answer, by Chris Sonksen
What does a pastor do when his church is not growing and the attendance is plateaued? What questions should he be asking? Where can he find answers?
Chris Sonksen has written a book trying to provide solutions for the problems related to church growth.
I want to encourage you to do the work necessary to create the clear picture and plan that God has for your church. God’s heart is for your church to win—to be a place of life change and transformation and to build a church that lives in the stage of increase.
In chapter one, the author lays the foundation for his approach to diagnosing and solving the problem of why a church isn’t growing. He explains the difference between the “God factor” and the “Leader factor.”
“Jeremy, there are two things you have to realize; there is the God factor and the leader factor. The God factor says ‘We can’t do anything without God.’ Would you agree?” He nodded his head and quietly said, “Yes, I agree.” I went on to say, “The leader factor says that ‘God doesn’t do anything without a leader.’ Now, Jeremy, we both know that God can do whatever he wants; he’s a miracle-working God. But when it comes to building a thriving local church, more often than not God looks for a leader. Would you agree with that, Jeremy?” Again, he quietly said, “Yes, I agree.” I said, “Jeremy, what this means is that we have to be willing to do our part. God will always do his part. He never lets us down and never quits on us. He will always come through. Our part is to be willing to change. Be willing to be honest about where our church is and willing to take it where it needs to go.
I found the second chapter to be the most helpful. Using the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:20-25), Sonksen lays out the principle, “God determines the talent, We determine the choices.” Success is not measured by results, but rather by whether or not we are faithful in using the gifts God has given us.
The bulk of the book identifies and explains 7 questions that pastors need to ask about their church:
- Mission: What do we do?
- Strategy: How do we get it done?
- Values: What are the guiding principles we live by?
- Metrics: How do we measure a win?
- Team Alignment: Do we have the right people in the right seats moving the in the right direction?
- Culture: How do we change the culture of our church?
- Services: How do we match what we say is important and what we really do?
The strength of the book is that it gives practical solutions to the difficult challenges of church growth. In that sense, it is a helpful volume. The weakness of the book is that it lays all the emphasis on human effort and tends to leave God out of the equation. While he stresses that success is not determined by numbers and size, he implies that if your church is not growing, then the pastor is failing. Since much of the examples in the book are of the author coaching another pastor through these questions, it tends to be a promotion of the author’s consulting service.
Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.