Look Before You Lead by Aubrey Malphurs–Book Review

This book would be an excellent resource for churches looking for a process of revitalization. I read through it pretty quickly, because many of the ideas were already familiar to me — they are very similar to the Fanning the Flame process that our congregation has been pursuing this past year.

Look Before You Lead: How to Discern and Shape Your Church Culture by [Malphurs, Aubrey]

Before embarking on change, a congregation needs to assess where they are in the present, and gain acceptance of the change process.  Communication is key. Spiritual gifts are an important emphasis. This book is somewhat more academic and technical than From Embers to a Flame (previously reviewed on our blog From Embers to a Flame — Book Review). There are a number of helpful appendixes for assessing and auditing character of church leadership, maturity level, culture, core values and more, and well as personal assessments for personality, temperament and gifts.

Several chapters deal with the pastor as change agent, and helps for the pastor in reading and changing the church culture. Malphurs notes that some personality types are better at promoting change than others.  At the end there are suggestions for closing a church or merging with another church as alternatives to congregational renewal.

Author Aubrey Malphurs is a professor of pastoral ministries and leadership at Dallas Theological Seminary and president of the Malphurs Group which engages in church consulting and training.  You can visit their website by following this link:


VERDICT:  4 stars.  I preferred From Embers to a Flame, but this book was also helpful and had some additional and interesting assessments.


Fanning the Flame #20 –The Leadership Dynamic

This past Saturday our Fanning the Flame team gathered to listen to a CD.  It was a talk by Harry Reeder, Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church based on his book, The Leadership Dynamic.  Here are some of my take-aways.

All good leaders share two important qualities:

  1. They lead a disciplined life
  2. They are lifelong learners

In order to be effective Christian leaders we must develop our own gospel-driven life.  This means we must cultivate:

  • Learning (wisdom, not just head knowledge)
  • Physical disciplines to maintain our strength (i.e. Saturday night “live” may lead to Sunday morning “dead”)
  • Spiritual disciplines
  • Relational disciplines

Members must pray for their leaders, but leaders must also pray for their members!

Vision is crucial.  Leaders are attracted to vision.  Vision is what motivates and must always be before the congregation.  Guilt will not motivate.

The world defines a leader as someone who has power and is able to manipulate and control others;  the church must have a different definition.  Church leaders are those who influence others to achieve a defined mission together.  The mission of the church is to spread the gospel.  The church can become a leadership factory, training leaders who will penetrate the world with Christian ideals.

Three maxims for leaders are:

  1. Leaders know their mission and are committed to achieving it — this requires both work and worship
  2. Leaders know and care for their people to the best of their ability–they do not use them
  3. Leaders are always intentionally reproducing themselves

Leaders are not thermometers, they are thermostats.  In other words, they do not read the temperature of a group, they set it.

Three assumptions can be made about Christian leaders:

  1. They lead a life worthy of imitation
  2. Their theological formation is strong — they know how to speak the Word of God
  3. They know how to lead

Character is more important that skills.  Character is a product of God’s grace which develops from the inside out (the fruit comes from the root) and produces a disciplined life.  Circumstances do not dictate character, they reveal character.

How does this tie into our monthly theme?  Christian leaders, like all Christians are to be servants.  Leadership is a spiritual gift given to build up the church, not to benefit the individual.