Brad Powell, pastor of NorthRidge Church in Plymouth, Michigan, loves the church, seeing it as the “hope of the world . . . when it’s working right.” He aims to have a vibrant, dynamic, relevant church which does not seek to compromise the message of the gospel. Powell tells the story of how a traditional, Southern-minded church in Michigan which worked while many Southerners migrated to work in the auto plants, began to slide significantly over the past twenty years. He sought to bring change without compromise, bring relevance without sacrificing the crux of the Christian religion.
This book came along at just the right time for me. As a pastor of a smaller church (averaging around 150), I found myself dealing with the 150-200 barrier. Powell’s book encourages pastors to engage the culture in their teaching and maintain fidelity to the truth of the Word. Powell understands the need for relevance, which he defines as bringing the truth to a particular language or culture. The following quote hooked me:
We should never dumb down God’s power to our level in order to protect ourselves from disappointment. We should determine to offer people what God has promised and willingly deal with the consequences. I would rather fail according to human standards, by offering people the hope of transformation God has promised, than to succeed by watering down God’s truth, ensuring they never find it. . . . I’d rather fail believing in God’s promises and power than succeed by diminishing them (45).
His chapters on leadership (Chapter 5—“You Gotta Be Crazy” and Chapter 6 “Can’t Do It Alone”) are worth the price of the book. If you are leading a church, yet you fail to bring others along with you will be ministerial suicide at that church, even if that leader is leading them in the right direction. Powell makes the point that leaders must lead, stay upbeat, exhort, encourage, challenge—even if no one at first seems to be following. Leaders must identify the issues and not be afraid to expose and confront those issues.
I recommend this book greatly. Churches must put forth the truth honestly, but never overlook the issues that turn their members away from the Great Commission.
[Disclosure: This book was given to me as a complimentary copy for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers. All opinions expressed are my own.]