From Church of England Newspaper 13 August 2004 This is a superb book on leadership. It is easily one of the best, if not the best, book on the subject I have ever read. James Lawrence is the Director of the Arrow Training Programme run by the Church Pastoral Aid Society (CPAS). He has also been a core member of Springboard. He has been meeting and interacting with and helping ministers of all denominations, but particularly Anglican ones, for many years. He has great insight and understands what it is like to run a busy parish or church agency. The book has 12 chapters divided into six sections. In the first section, Lawrence looks at leadership today. "One of the chief characteristics of healthy, growing churches is leadership," he writes. "It isn't the only mark of a healthy church, but a vital one. "It is with that concern that he then develops the marks of growing leaders - they know they are chosen, they discern God's call, they develop Christ-like character, they cultivate competence (his largest section), and they lead in the community. Each of these areas are explored in a humble, practical and scriptural manner. The result is a highly readable, very challenging, but extremely helpful book, especially for pressurised leaders. There is a whole chapter on "Living in the Red Zone" which every minister, Bishop and Archdeacon in the Church of England ought to read! Why? Because "within churches the character of the minister is often reflected in the life of the congregation" - and if the minister is in danger of not coping well, what of the church? This is a book to own, not borrow. It needs to be read a chapter at a time with the opportunity to reflect on what Lawrence is saying, and to wrestle with his arguments, and search scripture afresh. This is not a book to scan and forget, but a book to enable you to cope with the future. He writes, "Today I spoke on the phone with a 37 year-old minister. 'James, I don't know how I am going to survive. I am working 12 to 14-hour days. I don't see my family enough, and I feel constantly on the edge of burn-out. I don't feel trained for the job I do and I don't know where to get help. I'm wearing so many hats. The church is growing, exciting things are happening, but if I look down the road of the next 30 years I know I am not going to make it.' " If you are in this ministers shoes, with the help of this book, you might! Reviewed by Peter Brierley, Executive Director, Christian Research From Christian Herald, 05 June 2004 By coincidence I was reading this book on a train while travelling to a conference in which the main theme was training leaders. This is clearly an idea whose time has come. James Lawrence is to be commended for making this contribution to the process. Growing Leaders is comprehensive, accessible and realistic. The book covers a huge amount of ground. Its six sections deal with issues like defining leadership in the context of God's choice and call and considering how leaders can be developed to operate more effectively in their relationship to others. I appreciated the mix of biblical reflection, personal anecdote and practical application. This mix helps to keep the book readable and relevant. Also welcome is the author's honesty concerning his own struggles and mistakes. The realism of these sections reminds the reader that failure need not be final, but can be an opportunity for growth and change. Reviewed by John Woods 'A comprehensive, practical and very readable analysis of the art of leadership.' J. John, evangelist 'Biblically solid and organizationally aware, rich in resources and practical help.' Leighton Ford, founder of the Arrow Leadership Programme 'The most thoughtful, rigorous and engaging study of Christian leadership that I have read.' Jill Garrett, former MD of Gallup UK and Director of Caret Consulting 'He combines the latest research and literature with an understanding of church leadership and won't let either run away from scripture.' Hugh Palmer, Christ Church, Fulwood 'Pure gold! A treasure trove of practical wisdom for leaders and those who aspire to be leaders. I wish this book had been written twenty years ago.' Ian Parkinson, Vicar in Marple, and Co-ordinator the New Wine Network in the North West.
About the Author
James Lawrence is CPAS's Director for Arrow. He is an ordained Anglican minister and has been a core member of Springboard, the evangelism initiative. He is author of Growing Leaders (BRF, 2004), Lost fo Words (BRF, 1999) and Men: the Challenge of Change (CPAS, 1997).