I must admit when I first picked up Steering Through Chaos, I wondered if I was looking at “just another leadership book.” We’ve all read a lot of them, so the obvious question arises: “What can this book tell me that the others haven’t?” Fortunately, Scott Wilson’s subtitle, “Mapping a Clear Direction for Your Church in the Midst of Transition and Change,” provided the answer before I even opened the book. Wilson, Senior Pastor of The Oaks Fellowship here in Dallas, has written a book for pastors, staff, elders and ministry team leaders that’s about navigating change and transition. Wilson knows what he’s talking about. (By the way, even though we have the same last name, there is no relation and we’ve never met.) The Oaks Fellowship has been around in various forms and under different names for almost 100 years. Today, it is a thriving multi-site mega-church that has nearly tripled in size over the last few years and ministers to thousands each weekend. And Wilson draws not just upon his own 20 years of ministry experience, but also upon the wisdom of several other well-known ministry veterans, such as Larry Osborne of North Coast Church, Tim Stevens of Granger Community Church, and Greg Surratt of Seacoast Church, who make significant contributions to the book’s content by sharing their own experiences.
Drawing significantly from the work of Dr. Samuel Chand, who Wilson considers a mentor, Wilson notes that all organizations tend to experience natural cycles of growth and decline. His thesis is that, if leadership begins to implement the changes that will be necessary to thrive through the next upcoming growth cycle during a current growth cycle (instead of waiting until stagnation and decline begin to set in), they can change the shape of the curve and continue the upward trend. Of course, change when things are going well generally leads to a certain amount of chaos – hence the title. Wilson’s hope for the book is that leaders “will come to the conclusion that they care far more about God’s calling than their own comfort,” and offers practical tips for strategically leading “from chaos to chaos.”
I found most helpful his chapters on authentic communication and corporate prayer, since communication within the organization, as well as with the Lord, is so crucial during all seasons – but especially during seasons of transition and change. I was also glad to see that each chapter ends with 6-10 well-written discussion questions, making the book appropriate for study among staff teams, ministry teams or elder boards. Whether your challenges involve new facilities, staff changes, or the addition of new services or new campuses, you will find practical and timely help here. I certainly wish that I had this book when I was planting a church! As someone who has led and consulted for organizations of all sizes in both the ministry and corporate worlds, I highly recommend Steering Through Chaos as an excellent resource for organizations plotting a course through the inevitable seasons of change and transition.
[Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Zondervan as part of their book review blog tour program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”]