10 Temptations of Church: Why Churches Decline & What to Do About It (Abingdon press, May 2012) is the latest book by John Flowers and Karen Vannoy. John and Karen have been leaders in church revitalization for the past 17 years. They spent 12 years at Travis Park UMC and 5 years at First UMC Phoenix. In both ministry settings they have discovered resistence to change that goes beyond simply "I like things the way they are." John and Karen have discovered and identified 10 Temptations for lay persons as well as clergy, temptations to behaviors that will both insure continued local church decline, and undercut the local church purpose to make disciples for the transformation of the world. Indeed, John and Karen name "incentives for decline" where longtime members (and pastors) receive a direct payoff if a congregation continues its decline. They do not leave you hopeless however since there is a "try this" piece to resist each identified temptation. If your church has experienced years of steady, even percipitous decline, you will recognize many of these temptations within your community and you will be empowered to battle with those temptations.
Once effective strategies can become the temptations “thatcling so closely” and contemporary effectiveness is lost. Flowers & Vannoy, with their pastoralexperiences various congregations, have wittingly identified 10 temptationsthat glob up a congregation and smother effectiveness of ministry. A must read for pastors who have everwondered, “What next?”
- Rev. Carl W. Rohlfs
Why do people in declining churches sometimes act in ways that are likely to lead to continued decline? John and Karen address this question, both giving a set of answers and providing pathways to overcome these dysfunctional behaviors. Church leaders of all stripes can benefit from reading this book and implementing the practical suggestions.
- Dr. Don Nations, Church Consultant, www.dnacoaching.com
If your congregation is declining this is a book that leaders will want to read together. It is rare that we are offered a mirror in which to look such as provided by John and Karen. When you see yourself in the text, stop and talk, and then explore what you need to change.
- Gil Rendle, author of Back to Zero: The Search to Rediscover the Methodist Movement
Within the ten temptations of the church covered by the authors, the reader will find illustrated just about every dysfunction known to congregational life. The temptation to laugh at these foibles is tempered by knowing how close they come to our church experiences. The litany of shortcomings is followed in each chapter with specific and logical practices that churches can implement to resist the temptations that so undercut vitality.
- Lovett H. Weems, Jr., distinguished professor of church leadership and director, Lewis Center for Church Leadership, Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, DC; and author, with Tom Berlin, of Bearing Fruit: Ministry with Real Results.
"This is a hard hitting book. John and Karen tell the truth here: they say what too few folks will say. The people who most need to read this don't read these kinds of books, and would put this one down in about ten minutes. So, please, those of you who love them and who are church with them, read this for them... and then take some action to get your church back on track."
- Paul Nixon, church change consultant and author, God's Move Your Move: Discovering a Way Forward for Your Congregation (Abingdon Press)