Back in January when I volunteered to review this book I had no idea how applicable it would become. When I first started out with this book Church was business as usual. My husband was a lead pastor of a church that met during the week and on Sunday at church. His staff and few others were overseeing the majority of activities and people expected these people to show up for them and meet their needs if they could. I had heard an interview with Micah Fries and knew I wanted to read this book. https://www.holypost.com/holy-post-podcast/episode/e718b39b/episode-389-leveling-the-church-with-micah-fries How do you reform the church mindset of a few serving the many? I was intrigued.
The first half of the book is the symptoms of unhealthy leadership, really a nonbiblical, more business oriented model that has permeated the church for quite some time. Paid staff should be doing the majority of the ministry. Fries and Maxfield share the ways in which they fed into and off of this model. This book proposes Ephesians 4 to be the model of ministry in church instead of the Pastor being the end all be all. The pastors and staff should be equipping the saints to do the work of the saints. As I read the first half, my stress level was high, but how do you get people to apply this, especially leadership. The old ways are so engrained, especially in the rural settings we have had the privilege to minister in.
Then a pandemic broke out as I was going through the second half of the book which has biblical models of leadership. At first I was wondering how and then I watched as this model became a necessity. There was no way the lead pastor and staff could keep up with everyone when literally every person was now homebound. People needed to step up and minister to their brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as their actual neighbors. The second half of this book does a great job of sharing about Jesus, Moses, Paul, and Timothy and their strengths as leaders. This book has much to teach leaders of how to equip the saints.
My frustrations with the beginning were more because it was such a specific context that the authors were in that it did not seem to translate to the ones we have been in, but by the second half I was thankful for the wisdom found in ways to empower and equip the body. I would recommend this to leaders and lay leaders in churches who are looking for ways to equip the Saints. I am praying for my scenario that through this season of pandemic that these skills of keeping track of each other and ministering to each other will continue and we will find ways to apply it once this season is over. I think this book is a good addition to the discussion.