Sometimes it feels like things get stuck, and when they do you want to do something to get out of the rut. With that in mind I was excited to have the opportunity to read When Your Church Feels Stuck: 7 Unavoidable Questions Every Leader Must Answer by Christ Sonksen (Baker Books, 2017).
As promised, Sonksen discusses seven questions, things like what’s our mission, what are our values, how do we get to where we want to go, and do we have the right people in the right positions. The questions weren’t new for me, and neither were the answers provided. So chapters 5-11 were mostly review of things I’ve read from other experts, some of whom Sonksen mentioned. .
I did have a problem with his approach to metrics (chap 8: How do we measure a win?) Things like “we look at our music and ask if it’s done with quality”, or “we look at the messages…are they being presented in the highest quality possible?” And how do you measure if the kids are “learning, growing, and having fun” during the hour of Sunday school. It’s easy to count “butts and bucks”, “nickels and noses”, but quality of the music or the message is a little more difficult to measure. Ask 20 people in a Baptist church, and you’ll get 25 different opinions!
Having said that, I think the introductory chapters were probably more beneficial to me than the 7 questions. There are some good reminders of what ‘stuck’ looks like, and the review of the stages of church life, although different than others I’ve read, is an encouragement to look at what’s going on long-term (past and present) rather than just look at numbers for the past few weeks and go into panic mode.
And of course, it’s nice to be reminded that God can do a lot of things through the people whom he calls to serve. Since God uses people, there are often going to be mistakes, but instead of whining about it, making excuses, and pointing fingers, we can learn from our mistakes and move forward.
If this is new material to you, I would suggest that it’s a good place to start, but I don’t think Sonksen’s answers to the 7 questions are quite deep enough to really get the church out of its rut. The questions are probably the right ones, but the path that is presented to get out of the rut is probably overly smooth.
I received a copy of this book from the BakerBooks in exchange for my review.