By Owen Phelps, Ph.D.
Director, Yeshua Institute
Every once in a while there appears a book that pastoral leaders just have to have to both read and then keep handy on their bookshelves.
Dr. Dan Ebener’s new book certainly qualifies.
The fourth book he has written on leadership, Pastoral Leadership: Best Practices for Church Leaders is a book that anyone in pastoral leadership – from pastors to active volunteers – will want to read at least once, discuss with other people on the parish leadership team, and then go back and consult time and time again.
It’s that good and it’s that comprehensive.
Real world examples
Dan grounds his insights in a series of real world examples drawn from the life of a typical parish. He knows whereof he speaks when it comes to parish leadership because he has been developing leaders for churches, businesses and community organizations since 1976.
Today he teaches in the Master of Organizational Leadership Program at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, IA, and serves as Director of Parish Planning for the Diocese of Davenport. He also is a Fellow with our own Yeshua Leadership Institute.
Dan has written 4 books and dozens of articles about leadership – and spoken to audiences in 43 states and 20 countries.
It’s that kind of experience that gives his new book real value as a leadership development tool.
A unique insight
One of the unique things his book does is address the special challenge of leading with authority.
Many people might think either that you can’t lead without having formal authority or that formal authority makes leadership easier. But based on his many years of study and practical experience, Dan takes issue with both of those assumptions – and shows why they don’t hold up in actual practice.
He also offers practical advice for how those with formal authority can avoid letting that authority get in the way of dynamic, life-giving leadership in a parish setting.
“Resisting the temptation to rely only upon your positional authority will be your first challenge to leading a change,” Ebener cautions pastors. “Sometimes it is hard not to be heavy-handed because it is easier to dictate than to delegate. It is easier to monologue than dialogue. It is easier to impose your will than to discern the will of God and build consensus around that and the will of the people.”
However he advises: “Leading without authority can achieve more buy-in, motivate more intrinsically, and get longer-lasting results.”
To get real, lasting leadership results, Ebener advises that pastors have to engage their staffs and their parishioners in the process of leadership. There are no shortcuts. But there are several sound ways to proceed. And because Ebener does a great job of outlining them, I heartily recommend this book to every person who takes parish leadership seriously.
If your goal in your parish is to change lives, improve parish culture and increase parishioner engagement, order Pastoral Leadership today – and read it just as soon as you can.
SPECIAL NOTE: Next month we will be making an 8-part webinar series featuring Dr. Dan Ebener available free online. The series focuses on Dan’s new book, so watch for details about the upcoming webinar series. But to get the most out of the webinars, we advise you to get and read the book before watching the webinars.