Martin W. Bender
Maybe I’m just being nitpicky, but it seems like Thom Rainer only writes one book. As I read through Who Moved My Pulpit I couldn’t help but be reminded of I am a Church Member and The Unexpected Journey. It might be because all these books share similar content (they all deal with church leadership, something Rainer certainly knows a lot about) or maybe there is a higher level of repetition in his writing than I’m used to, but it will probably be a while before I crack open another of his works. With that little caveat in mind, let’s talk about why you should always lift with your legs when moving a pulpit.
Who Moved My Pulpit is a book about how to lead change in a congregation. It may surprise some to hear that good leaders are always interested in change, but it’s the truth. Leadership is moving others toward a preferable future – notice all the change language in that statement. There is movement, that movement is directive, the destination is superior to the current location, and it is forward in time. Those are four change terms used in defining leadership. I bring all this up because the readers of this article are most likely members of the congregation I pastor and might be interested to know how I define successful leadership.
Rainer doesn’t make any incredible observations in this book. It is primarily a reminder that making changes in a congregation should be done slowly. He emphasizes prayer as the starting point and continues to repeat the need for prayer throughout the book. He also leaves the nature of the changes that need to be made up to the reader. This is very positive considering all the advice flying around the internet about church growth methodologies. Rainer assumes the reader understands the nature of the changes that ought to be made and outlines the ideal way to make it happen.
My favorite line is one he lifted from an earlier book: you make changes in a congregation the same way you eat an elephant – one bite at a time (it’s a paraphrase). At Glennville First Christian Church there are so many changes I’d like to make the task seems overwhelming. I make the joke that we are going to change everything twice before I’m done, but the reality is that I’d like to develop a love for change in the congregation so that it is one of our core values.
I may use Who Moved My Pulpit again, but it will likely be for the illustrations or to point congregants to an easily accessible book on leading through change.
Rainer, Thom S. Who Moved My Pulpit: Leading change in the church. (Nashville, Tennessee: B&H Publishing Group, 2016).