McFayden, Strategic Leadership for a Change


Kenneth J. McFayden, Strategic Leadership for a Change: Facing Our Losses, Finding Our Future. Alban Institute, 2009.

Referenced in: Leading Change and Transition Summary

This is an excellent guide for change in established churches. It is especially good in equipping church leaders to understand the nature of a church’s attachment to the status quo, how the leader can help the church grieve the losses entailed in a change, how to help them avoid anxious reattachment, and by faith to “attach anew” to a vision they may never have experienced. It also shows how to root one’s visions for the future into powerful images from a congregation’s past. The book could be entitled, “The Preacher’s Guide to Pastorally Sensitive, Visionary Change.” It may seem impossible to combine “pastorally sensitive” and “visionary,” but this book comes closer than most other resources in this genre.

McFayden builds upon a hypothesis: “The church both yearns for and resists effective leadership, particularly transformational leadership.” This is a double-bind. Leadership should involve new possibilities and change, but churches often resist this, especially in contexts where change is swirling around them in so many areas of their lives. So while churches do want visionary leaders, they also want leaders who can help them manage complexities of their predicaments as they help people enter a new vision.

This is a great book for many reasons, especially for churches who say they want vision, but tend to express it in terms of reliving a time of their past (the 50s or 70s) instead of really entering the future. It shows how to grieve losses and move confidently into the future.

From the Publisher

Many congregations are experiencing significant change both within and beyond their walls, and both members and leaders feel a sense of loss in the midst of these changes. In the midst of change, loss, and grief, congregations yearn for leadership—typically with differing expectations of what constitutes effective leadership in response to their needs, hopes, and priorities. At the same time, congregations resist leadership. After all, leadership assumes those who follow will be open to more change.

Strategic Leadership for a Change provides congregational leaders with new insights and tools for understanding the relationships among change, attachment, loss, and grief. It also helps to facilitate the process of grieving, comprehend the centrality of vision, and demonstrate theological reflection in the midst of change, loss, grief, and attaching anew. All this occurs as the congregation aligns its vision with God’s and understands processes of change as processes of fulfillment.

Drawing on attachment theory, leadership studies, and biblical and theological resources, McFayden’s work is invaluable for leaders whose congregations face change, experience loss, wonder about their future, and yearn for leadership.

About the Author

Kenneth J. McFayden is Professor of Ministry and Leadership Development and Dean of The Center for Ministry and Leadership Development at Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education. He is an ordained Presbyterian minister and has served as a director of a ministry development center, a hospital chaplain, and an associate pastor.

***For additional information on this resource, including reviews, click the bookstore links. Check the reference at page top or the links below for resource guides on related topics.***


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