Book Review: Extraordinary Leaders in Extraordinary Times

Extraordinary Leaders in Extraordinary Times Volume 1 9780802829771

Hello friends!


We're back after a great Tech Free Monday Sabbath (TFMS), and we're offering up a book review. I actually finished the book a while ago, but seeing as this book was authored by my professor, I figured I would get a better handle on the book after the class was over. Usually, I struggle with professors who use their own books as a text book for a course they're teaching. It sometimes comes off as shameless self promotion, which I don't really want to deal with in a class I'm paying for. But that wasn't the case with Extraordinary Leaders in Extraordinary Times.

For one thing, this book is based largely on research in the field of New Church Development (NCDs for those of us in the biz...) and not based on the authors' opinions. The basic question was this: If there are NCDs that are effective and NCDs that flop, are there specific attributes of the leadership of those church plants that are consistent across the board? Is there one type of church planter who will be successful? 


The short answer after the class is no. While you can discover a few traits that will more frequently lead to success, like being a "Catalytic innovator", many of the church planters we met with during the class failed to contain all or even some of the tier one attributes from Extraordinary Leaders. At the end of the day, if God calls you to plant a church, God has called you to plant a church.


That said, if you are feeling that call on your life, this book is a MUST HAVE resource. It, combined with several other books on pastoral skill sets, can enlighten the attributes that you are strongest at, and also give you something to work towards on your weakest attributes. For instance, I think I'm a pretty strong Catalytic Innovator, in that I love few things more than staring at a blank whiteboard and making a new program or dream come to life through brainstorming, visioning, and discussing things with co-workers and friends. However, my desire to share my faith in one on one situations has been less than stellar. So after reading Extraordinary Leaders I have tried to spend some time hanging out with lost people. 


Also, it's worth mentioning that though these skill sets are specifically found in NCD pastors, those who lead existing churches probably have a good bit to learn from Extraordinary Leaders. The data from focus groups in particular helped to color in some views that I share, and challenge a few of my thoughts on church development. But even as a youth leader, there were practical tips and ideas that we can bring to Veritas right from the pages of this book. 


If there were any critiques of the book, they would be that it's based on surveys and research, and so at certain points read a little like a statistics manual. But when compared to how much like a statistics manual it could read, it's an extremely well written book. Also with the use of focus group data across several authors, occasionally you will find quotes re-used several times, making the book feel a bit repetitive. 


All that said, this book is required reading for anyone considering planting a church. It will surely live on my shelf and come out occasionally during times of prayer for discernment about where to go after seminary. But we get to go farther than the usual book review on this one. This book was followed up with one of the most innovative, creative, and inspiring classes I've ever had, and so tomorrow we'll be reviewing the class itself. You don't want to miss that!