Review: The Elephant in the BoardRoom: Speaking the Unspoken about Pastoral Transitions

September 18, 2013 | Author: dlescalleet | Category: Resource, Review | Comments (0)

Elephant in the Boardroom (Weese and Crabtree)I found this opening sentence on the inside of the dust jacket of this book:  One way or another, every church will eventually lose its pastor or minister yet few congregations prepare for this dramatic event.  After reading that sentence the moment I opened the book, I knew this was a source that I would utilize because the authors obviously, ‘got it!’

Authors Carolyn Weese and J. Russell Crabtree are well versed in the church culture and are students of ecclesiastical trends.  That was obvious from not only their experience but also the care and concern they demonstrate in this text for all churches going through transition, regardless of denomination, size, location or even theological persuasion.

Elephant in the Boardroom is a very user-friendly text.  Coming in at just over 200 pages, it is concise and clear in offering the ‘nuts-and-bolts’ for any garden variety transition.  Where the text really soars is when the authors help the reader to recognize particular church cultures and how each culture will effect the transition process from one pastor to another.  Along those lines, I found chapter four of their book, One Church, Four Variations, the most helpful in my own personal experience.  When my own church went through pastoral transition several years ago, there was a definitely a culture that was both helpful and in many ways harmful to the transition plan that we laid forth.  If I knew then what I know now (and had this text as an added guide), I am confident we would have done a number of things very different!

Where I found this book to be a bit troubling is where I felt they jerry-rigged ‘proof-texts’ to drive home a point.  Along these lines, chapter one was, for me, a bit disturbing:  Principles of Transition, Jesus Style.  Using the words and actions of Jesus that we have spelled out for us in the Gospels and attaching them to principles of Leadership as it relates to pastoral transition, came off, at best as a bit clunky and at worst, theologically poor.  The chapter is still solid in the principles that are offered, mind you, and could stand alone apart from the ‘What would Jesus Do’ narrative that drove it.

All in all, I really appreciated the work that Weese and Crabtree put into this text and any church going through or preparing for pastoral transition should use The Elephant in the Boardroom as a highly helpful resource.


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