Should business management principles be applied in the church? Does the Bible actually speak to leadership development or is that a misappropriation of larger churches with misplaced priorities? These are tensions that have been at the forefront of the church growth conversation for at least the last three decades.
In Designed to Lead: The Church and Leadership Development, Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck address these “big picture” tensions as well as the smaller day-to-day ones by focusing on something much older than the church growth movement—the purpose and mission of the church. This is a book that incorporates the theological as well as the practical in such a concisely comprehensive way, that it seems destined to become a go-to manual for church leaders for years to come.
Geiger and Peck are stubbornly theological, using the Bible as a starting point and not a proof-text reference. Also, they are “high church” in the best was possible: insisting that the church should be the primary leader-producing entity in the world. And not just leaders for vocational ministry, but leaders in every sector of society. The fruit of discipleship in the church should be transformational leaders in the culture—and so culture is transformed for Jesus.
On the “practical” side of the equation—although something tells me the authors would not appreciate “theological” and “practical” being separated—the book is a gift in so many ways. Geiger and Peck synthesize ideas from books that have been very influential for me: Good to Great, Scaling Up Excellence, and Simple Church, the latter also being co-authored by Geiger. I also appreciated insights that I assume were brought to the table by Peck, who is lead pastor at The Austin Stone, a church I follow closely and respect greatly in the area of leadership development.
Designed to Lead follows a logical progression, starting with chapters on “Convictions,” moving to chapters on organizational “Culture,” and finally addressing “Constructs” of leadership development. This layout ensures that readers are developing leaders from a place of biblical conviction in a church culture that won’t be counterproductive. The authors acknowledge the temptation to skip straight to the practical constructs, but of course they advise against this. A wise leader will heed this advice because the journey is important.
I highly recommend this book for church leaders who want to take seriously God’s call to make disciples and equip leaders. This book will make you think, give you the courage to address cultural issues, and move you from theory into the messy trenches of building leaders.
Jim Denison does an outstanding job on the narration of the audiobook version. His voice is perfectly suited for the tone of the book. My one quibble with the audiobook version is it is hard to go back and reference ideas and constructs. After listening I bought a print version of the book that I can highlight and write in, and use for later reference.
Please Note: This audiobook was gifted as a part of the Christianaudio Reviewers Program in exchange for my unbiased review of this work. This has in no way influenced my opinion or review of this work. More information can be found about this and other Christian audiobooks at christianaudio.com.