Leading a Church to Maturity in Love: A Theological and Practical Guide to Church Leadership

by and Stephen Cottrell (foreword)

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Book Details

Format: Paperback (148 pages)

Publisher: Sacristy Press

Date of Publication:

ISBN: 978-1-78959-023-4

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Foreword by Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford

The Church as a community is called to reflect the inclusive love of Christ. Yet, church leaders frequently encounter tensions and conflict, especially when facing change. Building on extensive experience of leading churches at times of change, David R. Tomlinson shows how through critical theological reflection and modelling good practice church leaders can facilitate church life that is grounded in and transformed by the love of God.

David Tomlinson draws on his deep experience of ministry in a local community to explore the question of what it means to grow through and within our struggles with difference and diversity. Taking some of the ‘big words’ of our Christian life together – trust, reconciliation, truth, servant leadership, witness – he engages in a conversation between practice and theology that is insightful and challenging both for church leaders, and the communities of which they are part. This is both a wise and a practical book, calling us to bear hopeful witness as God’s people in the world today.

Liz Griffiths, Director of Training, Bridge Builders

It is a rare book that I can commend without hesitation or caveat. David Tomlinson’s Leading a Church to Maturity in Love is one of them!

There are two reasons for this. The first is about David himself. I know him to be an outstanding Training Incumbent and Area Dean with wide experience of leading congregations and benefices in very different contexts. This means we are not told stories of quick-fixes or solo heroic leadership. Rather we benefit from the fruit of a highly experienced reflective practitioner who demonstrates his own vulnerability and learning. Many speak about theological reflection, David actually does it.

Secondly, David makes extensive use of insights from family systems theory. He both explains and applies family systems principles in a way that is immediately relevant to UK church leadership. As far as I know, this is the first book from a UK church leader to do this with such skill and clarity. There are other resources available from the United States but they all need ‘translating’ for UK leaders - now we have an immediately usable and understandable text that will enable many others to benefit from these insights.

Everyone with congregational leadership responsibility will benefit from reading, reflecting and applying David’s insights. And if anyone says they have not learned anything, then I suspect they haven’t read it properly!

Applying David’s wisdom for leadership will make a huge difference to the health and vitality of God’s church and his ministers in the years to come. I couldn’t be more grateful.

The Revd Canon Dr Roger Matthews, Dean of Mission and Ministry, Diocese of Chelmsford

This is an impressively wise and original book on church leadership. Its suggestions arise from the author’s many years’ experience of parish life. The examples he gives of situations in the life of the church left me nodding wryly in recognition – on one occasion, I actually wondered whether he had visited my church! This speaking out of experience lends weight to his recommendations. … I trusted this author from the opening pages, because his advice resonated so closely with my lived experience as a minister. I have learned so much from his distilled wisdom – not just about leading my church, but also about how I function as a leader, and why I react as I do in certain situations. I would recommend this book without hesitation to any minister or ministerial student.

Rosa Hunt (South Wales Baptist College), Baptist Times

David R. Tomlinson is Area Dean of Saffron Walden and Team Rector of the Saffron Walden and Villages Team Ministry in North West Essex. During 25 years of ordained ministry he has gained significant experience and expertise in managing change and resolving conflict in church communities. David is married to Jenny, who is also ordained, and they have two adult children.

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