360-Degree Leadership (Baker) by Michael Quicke

Coming on the heels of his excellent book 360-Degree Preaching, Michael Quicke has extended his thoughts to deal with the issue of leadership, which he sees as closely related to preaching in pastoral life. In 360-Degree Leadership (Baker), Quicke encourages pastors to “rediscover leadership through preaching.”

Quicke believes that preaching and leadership are closely related in the life of the pastor. Preachers are inevitably placed in roles of leadership because of the nature of their calling. He argues that “Christian leadership belongs to preaching and preaching belongs to leadership because God’s preachers are inevitably also his leaders.”

He says preachers lead because, “By Holy Spirit power, their preaching of God’s Word should exercise leadership by envisioning, confronting, encouraging, stretching, releasing, and uniting the people of God to live out his will.”

Yet in the face of increasing demands for congregations for dynamic leadership, “vision casting” and such, Quicke believes that many seasoned pastors are bewildered by new expectations. He quotes one veteran pastor who lamented, “Several of my lay leaders expect me to be more like their Christian heroes they see on TV, or whose books they read. To be strong and visionary. But I honestly do not know how. I thought God was calling me to preach and pastor. But it doesn’t seem to be enough.” To such pastors, Quicke offers the assurance that “it is enough when such pastors rediscover how preaching leads.”

In the early portion of the book, Quicke details the lack of connection between preaching and leadership in most of the books on effective church leadership, even at a time when such materials are flooding into the marketplace. He notes that much of the literature seems to prefer the term “teaching” to “preaching.”

Using the term “thin-blooded preaching” to describe proclamation that is short on vision – that “tells out good news of salvation but neglects the richness of God’s vision for saved people – Quicke offers ten characteristics of such preaching:

  • Individualistic
  • Aimed at head or heart but rarely both together
  • Spineless theology (“Often Unitarian in practice, it acts as though there is no living Christ interceding and empowering, and no Holy Spirit bringing hearing and conviction.”)
  • Generic application
  • Avoids conflict
  • Low compliance
  • Absence of process issues (“Pallid preaching leaves visions and strategic changes for others to talk about.”
  • Solo role
  • Cowardice (“Thin-blooded preaching plays safe, maintaining rather than initiating, concentrating on personal issues of faith rather than on organizational outcomes of faith.”)
  • Missionally defective

In contrast to this “thin-blooded variety,” Quicke then proceeds to call for “full-blooded preaching that is corporate, holistic, Trinitarian, specific in application, realistic about conflict, urges commitment, does justice to process issues, collaborates, is courageous, and is missionally effective.”

In exploring this relationship between preaching and leadership, Quicke suggests that preachers who seek to be better leaders will need four skills in their ministries:

  • Generating and sustaining creative tension
  • Harnessing the power of mental models
  • Enabling team learning
  • Practicing systems thinking

The book is thick with practical insights drawn from the best leadership teaching of recent years, flavored by an author who “walked the walk” as a pastor of two local churches, and who has spent his most recent years training a new generation of preachers as a professor of preaching at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Quicke’s vision of the power of preaching is rooted in his 360-degree model which is Trinitarian in nature. He sees preaching operating “within a 360-degree dynamic empowered by God’s returning Word. God the Father reveals truth through Scripture and by his Son, Jesus, the Word, who is central to every gathering of believers, and through the Holy Spirit the preached Word inspires, convicts, and renews.”

Lest the reader mistakenly believe that he is seeking to enhance the leadership effectiveness of pastors in a way that will build egos, Quicke asserts, “I believe that biblical preaching gives glory to God by its transformational power to change individuals and community, and that means taking leadership very seriously, ensuring that it does not focus on human glory.” He adds: “Christian leadership is emphatically not about becoming Chief Executive Officers. Rather, it calls for skillful shepherding that addresses individual needs with their community consequences. In Scripture shepherds have very significant leadership roles. When Jesus claims: ‘I am the good shepherd’ (John 10:11) he sums up his whole ministry purpose and he happens to be the world’s greatest leader.”

As an experienced pastor as well as a talented teacher and writer, Michael Quicke understands leadership well and helps us understand it better. This is an excellent and helpful book that deserves a place on any pastor’s bookshelf.

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