As with the Adeney book, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to get my hands on a copy if I didn’t purchase it, but what the heck: why not ask the publisher for a free one? They hemmed and hawed a bit but said yes. Steve is brilliant, innovative, well-informed, and a good communicator. But this is a self-published, print-on-demand book, based on transcripts from material delivered orally. The result is not bad, but a more traditional publishing method would probably have handled fonts, margins, paper choice, etc. in a more pleasing way, and provided a more thorough copy-editing.
However, the author wanted to provide inexpensive access, on paper, to the helpful ideas he had previously communicated in his very thoughtful video blog, and this does the trick. It looks at global trends and asks the questions about how they might affect missions today and for the years to come. It’s so easy to just keep doing things the ways we’ve always done them (yeah, like traditional publishing!), and as Christians, to hide behind spiritual language justifying it. Mission leaders need a like-minded ally to come alongside them and help them ask hard questions about their ministries. Steve is good at that.
One thing I noticed reading this one is how much it draws from secular business and leadership ideas and sources of which I am instinctively wary. After all that my ministry has gone through in the last decade – being pulled one way and then another under rapidly changing influences – I am still struggling with what to keep and what to throw out. I feel a bit jerked around; still uncertain what or whom to trust. But I trust Steve and Dave and The Mission Exchange, so I’ll keep tuning in to them.
The question, “How much do we want to run our mission agencies like businesses?” can be a difficult one. Having become a part of an agency that has a lot of tolerance for apparently “unprofitable” behaviors (including my own), I am not sure whether to be glad, or afraid. Yet the agency continues to grow about 10% a year, has a very good reputation, and is doing much better, financially, than many others. So I guess the marketing/management/finance types are getting their way in the right times and places, effectively freeing up the rest of us!
In looking over this post I realize I haven't told you that much about the book. Oops... I did come at it (a bit) more directly in An Experiment with Grand Silence and quoted an article in the series which came out after those for the book were selected, in Steve Moore, on Motivation to Change.