Aiming to guide current and emerging church leaders within the rapidly changing post-modern context, LeadershipNext: Changing Leaders in a Changing Culture is an insightful resource that maps out how Christian leadership must adapt to the new cultural realities of the twenty-first century. Written by Eddie Gibbs, Senior Professor of Church Growth at Fuller Theological Seminary, the book not only identifies the immense changes occurring in society and calls the church to transformation, but also provides practical instruction for meaningful and authentic ministry within the present generation.
Arguing that traditional leadership styles must change or risk becoming irrelevant to the culture, Gibbs exhorts church leaders to interpret the times and be willing to redefine leadership towards a missional and kingdom-embracing theology. He opens the book by identifying trends that are leading to the demise of the traditional church, such as the decline in the church going population (including the alarming rate of under thirty-five year olds that no longer attend church), the weakening of denominational structures, and the inadequate number of seminary-trained leaders to replace aging clergy. In response to these trends and the immense changes occurring in society, chapter one identifies successful church leaders as those who are able to discern the times and respond in prompt and appropriate ways. Chapter two argues that, despite the ambiguity and unpredictability of the current age, the realignment of ecclesiastical leadership roles and styles is necessary to engage the broader culture. Embracing a “retro-future” methodology, that is, looking at future trends and also at the paradigm of the early church, chapter three examines the mandate of the Great Commission and its indivisible relationship to the missional understanding of the church. Turning his attention to leadership structures, chapters four and five discuss how the hierarchy of the traditional church must give way to a more decentralized leadership style that functions more as a team that includes both paid staff and volunteer leaders. Chapters six through eight concentrate on the leadership qualities that are being modelled by the emerging generation of church leaders that have embraced the team oriented approach to ministry. Unwilling to sidestep the challenges of team ministry in the post-modern context, chapter nine candidly addresses some of the personal costs associated with the risk of presenting the gospel message in a style unfamiliar to the traditional paradigm. In the final chapter, Gibbs calls for change in the way new leaders are identified and equipped and suggests a new educational model that combines theological training with practical ministry in a context that enables and empowers emerging leaders for meaningful, long-term ministry that embraces a holistic and missional ecclesiology.