Leadership on the front foot

Courtesy of The Sola Panel, Sandy Grant takes us through Zac Veron’ book Leadership on the front foot and makes key observations for Christians pastors. This is the first in a series that will run for six weeks.

Pragmatism is always dangerous.

Passages like 2 Corinthians 4:2, 1 Thessalonians 2:3-6 and 2 Timothy 4:3-4 warn against methods that may seem to get results and gain listeners for the message you preach.

But pragmatism is also commended.

Passages like Matthew 10:18 (in the context of a gospel preaching mission) and Luke 16:8 (in the context of using your money to make friends for eternity) both recommend ‘shrewdness’ or ‘astuteness’ in ministry dealings, rather than stupidity.

Therefore, in the weeks ahead I plan to review Zac Veron’ new book Leadership on the Front Foot.

The publisher’ blurb explains,

This new book by Youthworks CEO, Zac Veron, outlines 23 principles to inspire and encourage church leaders. Practical guidance is offered for all aspects of parish ministry with application guides at the end of each chapter for further reflection, planning and decision making.

In just over a decade, Zac led a parish in gospel growth, which saw new congregations planted, attendance increase approximately sevenfold and offertories increase tenfold. This occurred in a multicultural area of Sydney (rather than in an middle-class Anglo Bible-belt) where the number of nominal Anglicans was falling fast.

Zac is a friend and colleague of most of the panellists at the Sola Panel. But because Zac is unashamedly a practitioner (and an effective one), he’ dangerous.

Actually, I don’t really think he’ dangerous. Zac’ theological commitment is the Bible-based conservative evangelicalism typical of Sydney Anglicans and Moore College graduates. But his book could be dangerous when read by people without those theological convictions, or by people who fail to filter what he says through the grid of Scripture.

But Zac is also to be commended. And we need to learn from him.

I loved reading Mark Dever’ book The Deliberate Church, Before Dever was appointed Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington DC, the search committee asked him if he had a programme to implement for church growth. He replied that he didn’t really have any great plans, but that he was armed with the four P’: he would Preach, Pray, develop Personal discipling relationships and be Patient! Not being a great visionary or big picture thinker, I appreciated the simplicity of this vision.

However, Zac adds a fifth P: Planning! Under God, we need to plan. In this regard, Zac’ book moves from the personal, through the operational (day-to-day) and the tactical (what do I do), to the strategic (big picture; why do I do it?)

And so I gladly purchased 20 copies of this book to distribute to my pastoral staff, parish councillors, congregational ministry team leaders, and Synod representatives before I’d even read it myself. Now having read the book, I do not regret doing so, even though I find myself disagreeing with individual parts.

(Stay tuned for part 2 in this series.)