A Failure of Nerve

Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix

A Failure of Nerve

Ten years after his death, Edwin Friedman's insights into leadership are more urgently needed than ever. He was the first to tell us that all organizations have personalities, like families, and to apply the insights of family therapy to churches and synagogues, rectors and rabbis, politicians and teachers. A Failure of Nerve is essential reading for all leaders, be they parents or presidents, corporate executives or educators, religious superiors or coaches, healers or generals, managers or clergy. Friedman's insights about our regressed, "seatbelt society," oriented toward safety rather than adventure, help explain the sabotage that leaders constantly face today. Suspicious of the "quick fixes" and instant solutions that sweep through our culture only to give way to the next fad, he argues for strength and self-differentiation as the marks of true leadership. His formula for success is more maturity, not more data; stamina, not technique; and personal responsibility, not empathy. This book was unfinished at the time of Friedman's death, and originally published in a limited edition. This new edition makes his life-changing insights and challenges to a new generation of readers.

A Failure of Nerve

Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix, Revised Edition

A Failure of Nerve

- Foreword by Peter Steinke - Magnum opus of leading figure in application of family systems theory to congregations - Widely used in seminary and continuing education since 2007 first publication - Revised 10th anniversary edition of best-seller Ten years after his death, Edwin Friedman's best-selling A Failure of Nerve continues to offer insights into leadership that are more urgently needed than ever, and this revised, anniversary edition is essential reading for all leaders, be they parents or presidents, corporate executives or educators, religious superiors or coaches, healers or generals, managers or clergy. Friedman was the first to tell us that all organizations have personalities, like families, and to apply the insights of family therapy to churches and synagogues, rectors and rabbis, politicians and teachers. His understandings about our regressed, "seatbelt society," oriented toward safety rather than adventure, help explain the sabotage that leaders constantly face today. Suspicious of the "quick fixes" and instant solutions that sweep through our culture only to give way to the next fad, he argued for strength and self-differentiation as the marks of true leadership. His formula for success is more maturity, not more data; stamina, not technique; and personal responsibility, not empathy A Failure of Nerve was unfinished at the time of Friedman's death and originally published in a limited edition. This new edition cleans up some oversights in the original and brings his life-changing insights and challenges to a new generation of readers. "Reading this book is like discovering an unpublished Beethoven sonata or a missing play of Shakespeare. Ed Friedman was one of our most brilliant, original, and provocative thinkers across the fields of therapy, ministry, and organizational leadership." --Professor William J. Doherty, Director, Marriage and Family Therapy Program, University of Minnesota Audience: Clergy, vestries, other lay leaders. Those interested in how they can adapt to the change they see coming while retaining core identity. Seminary, continuing education, CPE, small groups. Broad reach to all leaders, not just those of congregations.

Traces of the Trinity

Signs of God in Creation and Human Experience

Traces of the Trinity

As the Triune God created the world, so creation bears the signs of its Creator. This evocative book by an influential Christian thinker explores the pattern of mutual indwelling that characterizes the creation at every level. Traces of the Trinity appear in myriad ways in everyday life, from our relations with the world and our relationships with others to sexuality, time, language, music, ethics, and logic. This small book with a big idea--the Trinity as the Christian theory of everything--changes the way we view and think about the world and places demands on the way we live together in community.

Walking in Wonder

Resilience in Ministry

Walking in Wonder

In ministry as in life, we get knocked down. Sometimes, due to our folly or despair or fatigue or external opposition, we stumble and fall. How do we get back up--again and again and again? Resiliency, the ability to bounce back, is a gift of God. Leaders are able to get up and follow the crucified and risen Lord when they are drawn, when they are enchanted by the awesome mystery of the triune God. Discipleship has never been easy. The way, staying on the narrow path that leads to abundant life, is hard. Today, no less than the first disciples, followers of Christ face an array of challenges, not the least of which is disenchantment: "We had hoped he was the one to redeem Israel" (Luke 24:21). Seen through an Enlightenment lens, disenchantment may be more acute and prevalent in our times, but it is not new. We walk our own Emmaus Road. And when we keep walking, when we follow the one who joins us on the Road, eyes are opened, hearts burn, the one standing before us is recognized, and we are sustained for the journey. This collection of theological essays on ministry is an invitation to "run and not be weary . . . to walk and not faint" (Isa 40:31) by walking in wonder with the wholly other God who is near.

Facing Decline, Finding Hope

New Possibilities for Faithful Churches

Facing Decline, Finding Hope

Church today isn’t the same as it was fifty years ago—or even ten years ago. In spite of the powerful stories of turn-around churches with skyrocketing memberships, the difficult reality is that most congregations are getting smaller. Jeffrey D. Jones asks brave questions for congregations facing this reality—what if membership growth isn’t the primary goal for a church? How can churches remain vital, even with declining attendance? Facing Decline, Finding Hope is an essential resource to help congregations confront their shrinking size while looking towards the hopeful reality that God is calling them to greater faithfulness. The book draws on biblical and theological resources, as well as contemporary leadership studies, to help leaders—both clergy and laity—set aside a survival mentality and ask new questions to shape ministry more attuned to today’s world. Facing Decline, Finding Hope is a powerful book for leaders who want to honestly assess the size of their church and plan for faithful, invigorating service regardless of whether membership numbers are up or down.

Journey in the Wilderness

New Life for Mainline Churches

Journey in the Wilderness

"We who love the church know we are in the wilderness. In this book, Gil Rendle describes that wilderness so we can understand how we got here. What's even better, he helps us find landmarks and paths that can help us find a better way. Any lay leader or clergyperson will find genuine support here- but first he or she will have a chance to understand more deeply the dimensions of the hole we have dug ourselves into." Loren B. Mead, consultant, teacher, founder of the Alban Institute, author of the Once and future Church "Gill Rendle describes masterfully the mainline trek in the wilderness and identifies assumptions that no longer fit. Church leaders will recognize their experience of recent decades on every page. As insightfull as the description is, the power of the book comes in naming new paths out of the wilderness." Lovett H. Weems, Jr., author of church Leadership: Vision, Team, Culture, and Integrity "A hope-filled book about the future of the mainline church by one of North America's most respected consultants. Rendle challenges leaders to embrace the wilderness, learn from it, and summon the courage to keep moving toward the promised land. This is a must-read book for pastors and denominational leaders." Janice Riggle Huie, Bishop, the Houston Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church "Gil Rendle has long been a reliable guide for leaders navigating change in our culture and the church. Journey in the Wilderness is another invaluable piece of the map to help mainline church leaders seeking to discern God's vision for our future amid disorienting change." John Wimmer, Program Director, Religion, Lilly Endowment, Inc. "Gil Rendle provides not only a descriptive understanding of how mainline churches got into the wilderness but also clues for their path forward. He does it with perceptive wisdom and hopeful steps for the journey. Journey in the Wilderness is a must read for leaders of congregations and denominational leaders who seek a new/ancient role for congregations." John R. Schol, Bishop, the Washington, DC Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church "This book is gift of well-founded hope. Gil Rendle deftly describes the unique opportunities present within our wilderness experience and offers a clear perspective on the pathway for learning and relevant change we may find there." Tom Locke, President, Texas Methodist Foundation

People-Pleasing Pastors

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Approval-Motivated Leadership

People-Pleasing Pastors

Charles Stone?s research on thousands of pastors and ministry leaders demonstrates the dangers of approval-motivated leadership. Bringing together biblical insights and neuroscience findings, Stone shows why we fall into people-pleasing patterns and what we can do to overcome these tendencies and have more effective ministry.

A Door Set Open

Grounding Change in Mission and Hope

A Door Set Open

We resist change less when we associate it with mission and fortify it with hope. So argues longtime congregational consultant Peter Steinke in his fourth book, A Door Set Open, as he explores the relationship between the challenges of change and our own responses to new ideas and experiences. Steinke builds on a seldom-explored principle posited by the late Rabbi Edwin Friedman: the 'hostility of the environment' is proportionate to the 'response of the organism.' The key, Steinke says, is not the number or strength of the stressors in the system--anxiety, poor conditions, deteriorating values--but the response of the individual or organization to 'what is there.' Drawing on Bowen system theory and a theology of hope, as well as his experience working with more than two hundred congregations, Steinke makes the case that the church has entered an era of great opportunity. Theologian and sociologist Ernst Troeltsch said the church had closed down the office of eschatology. Steinke reopens it and draws our attention to God's future, to a vision of hope for the people of God. The door is set open for exploration and new creation.

American Dream 2.0

A Christian Way Out of the Great Recession

American Dream 2.0

The promise of America has always been creative potential: enterprise, industry, optimism, idealism, and hope. This promise, known since the beginning of the New World and named since the Great Depression as the “American Dream”, is what makes immigrants cry at the base of the Statue of Liberty. But there is a dark side to the American Dream, too—one that we don’t talk about much in polite company. A side characterized by the exploitation and domination of subjected people. The national climate has caused many to question the validity of the American Dream, and whether it even offers a viable vision for the nation. There are few greater questions to ask. Our collective future depends on a common vision. If the American Dream is dead, then what happens next? This book evaluates the American Dream, establishes its roots, gives reasons for its decline, and offers solutions to reclaim the promise of the American Dream that is more aligned with Jesus’ vision of the kingdom of God and Martin Luther King Jr’ s vision of the “Beloved Community”. Our challenge is to develop a redesigned American Dream, a sustainable future for all, free from exploitation and domination of subjected people.

Toward the Better Country

Church Closure and Resurrection

Toward the Better Country

At a time when pews are not as full as they used to be, many churches are struggling to stay open. But no matter how creative or hard-working, some congregations are unable to revitalize their ministry. Is it time to talk about closing your church? Are there any other options for your future? Toward the Better Country tells the stories of real congregations that have faced a significant downsizing, merger, or closure and found positive ways to move forward in ministry. While no local church is meant to live forever, congregations that have chosen to faithfully complete their ministry are finding hope in the new ventures born from passing on their spiritual and material legacies. Based on over thirty interviews with church leaders from various denominations, this practical resource offers guidance to lay leaders, clergy, and regional leaders as they deal with the grief and discernment process of struggling churches. Designed for group study, each chapter includes reflection questions for discussion. A listing of additional resources is also included.