Heuser and Shawchuck, Leading the Congregation

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Roger Heuser and Norman Shawchuck, Leading the Congregation: Caring for Yourself While Serving the People, Revised Edition. Abingdon, 2010.

Companion volume: Shawchuck and Heuser, Managing the Congregation

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LifeandLeadership.com Summary

This is my favorite book on spiritual leadership in general, and church leadership in particular. It is now published in a revised edition that addresses ministry realities of the current era.

Part I, “Leading From Within,” consisting of seven chapters and almost 100 pages, is still unparalleled as a baseline for understanding leader self-care essentials and forming an agenda for one’s further development. It covers the leader’s interior attitudes, spirituality, call, vision and mission, and overall personal effectiveness. It encourages a blended spirituality of action and contemplation, with appreciative ties to Ignatian practices such as the daily examen. The chapter on the “Leader’s Call” is one of the best developments of that subject. Their observations on the “interplay of light and shadow” (the dark side of leadership) is the standard from which most other developments of this topic get their inspiration, and includes information not developed in other texts on church leadership. This is perhaps the best integration of theology, spiritual formation, psychology, and organizational development ever written on the subject.

Part II, “Leading With Others,” is an excellent discussion of ministry teams, managing conflict, emotional systems, and the relationship between pastors and boards.

Parts III, “Leading Toward Transformation,” equips the leader to profoundly impact congregational life on a spiritual and organizational level through exemplary, transformative leadership. This is one of the most comprehensive introductions to the complex dynamics of congregational leadership, showing how a leader’s inner qualities, emotional competencies, task capabilities, leader instincts, and managerial skills combine to create effectiveness. It beautifully describes the importance of and relationship between mission and vision. It blends change theory and congregational development into a very usable model for transitions.

From the Publisher

Leading the Congregation is a complete and definitive guide to the practice of church leadership. The book describes new paradigms for the leader that integrate spiritual integrity and service within a “systems” view of the congregation and its ministry.

This revised and updated version focuses on the challenges of congregational leadership in a culture that has fewer ties to Christian faith. The authors lay out the dual contexts in which church leaders must function—within the congregation, and as the congregation’s representative to the community—and they explain the very different skill sets required to flourish in each. Underlying the revised edition is an insistence on the congregational leader’s call from God, and cultivation of her or his relationship with God. Leadership is not the same thing as charisma, they explain; it is rather a set of attitudes and practices that each of us can and must master if we are to be worthy servants of Christ.

About the Author

Norman Shawchuck is a teacher and consultant at Vanguard University of Southern California. He is the president of Shawchuck & Associates, Ltd. He has worked and taught in Korea, Indonesia, Egypt, and Israel.

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