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Change Hurts

Learning Change by Jim Herrington and Trisha Taylor

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This is a unique book in that it explores change within the church setting through personal renewal of its pastors and members.  The idea of the book was set forth through an initiative by Western Seminary, RCA, and CRCNA congregations.  The leaders sought to develop a program that would help transformational learning to take place on a large scale in each congregations.  With the help of Jim and Trisha, this initiative became the Ridder Church Renewal process which 126 leaders completed the program of which 128 began the process.  The goal was to combine teaching, multi-day retreats and guidance that would help leaders navigate change in their respective churches (10-12).

Brain Stone opens the book in chapter 1 by reflecting on the dreams we have in our life, from childhood to today.  One of the significant points in this chapter is Brian's development of mission in life of Jesus and God's calling on our life.  He writes, "When you realize that God has an intention for your life and you begin to live into it, you will experience God's shalom...You have a calling to be on mission in the places where you spend most of your day" (22).  Why is this so important?  For one, we often segregate church life from the other days of the week.  In combining mission with the everyday places of our life, we are bringing back God's mission for the world into our small spheres of life, thereby making our contact with others a part of our calling as believers.

The third chapter in the book on personal change is really at the heartbeat of the entire message of learning change in congregations.  Drew Poppleton arrived at First Reformed Church in Layfayette, Indiana with the task of moving the church into a new place.  Yet, after two years of toiling, one thing that he failed to look at in the whole process; himself in the mirror.  He writes, "We believe it is God's design that personal transformation always precedes corporate transformation" (42).  Blaming others and casting a furrowed brow at the older congregants in the church for their stubbornness will in the end not help the congregation move to a healthy place.  What began as an initial thought about changing himself turned into a huge help in that Drew began to see parenting, marriage, and ministry in light of the ways he could change his perspective.  Lastly, Drew rightfully considers shame as being antithetical to the gospel.  The truth that you are deeply loved by God despite your flaws was the message that Drew needed and that we all need to be reminded of.

This is a truly wonderful and challenging book.  Chapter 4 focuses on integrity and the section on cleaning our messes (59) is worth the entire book.  You won't want to miss out on this book.

Thanks to Kregel Publications for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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