Thursday, January 17, 2013


Abingdon Press is releasing my newest book this month, one of their first titles of 2013.   The Surprise Factor: Gospel Strategies for Changing the Game at Your Church. Kim Shockley and I co-authored this book as a conversation between a clergyperson and a layperson, exploring ten key strategies that Jesus utilized as a change agent in a long-existing faith community. In each case we asked what Jesus' strategy looks like in a twenty-first century North American congregation. The project has been a lot of fun.

The book is about local church leadership strategy. It is for pastors and the laity who partner with them early in the process of transitioning a declining or plateaued congregation into a new era of growth and vitality. Too many leaders overplay their hand early on and end up in a U-Haul van prematurely, heading for another place to try again. In many cases, they know the best practices, they have studied the great churches, but they are clumsy in their ability to lead their folks to the envisioned reality. They have experienced strategy failure. The Surprise Factor is all about how to help leaders actually pull off church transformation.

Given the current state of most mainline congregations in the USA, we need some amazingly effective pastoral leaders about now!

As with all of my books, The Surprise Factor comes with a study guide - the most elaborate study guide ever to accompany one of my books. This is because Kim Shockley loves writing study guides.   The guide resources groups of pastors or local church leaders who choose to study the book together. The study can last for one morning, or (with up to ten sessions) stretch out over a year's time!  

Please check out the links below related to the book:
  • Here is a short video conversation between Kim and myself about the writing of The Surprise Factor. Click HERE to watch.  
  • The second link will take you to a new blog site where we encourage readers to interact with the authors around ideas raised within the pages of the book. Click HERE to read the blog.  
  • Finally, here is a link to a site where you can purchase the book! Click HERE.  
If you would like for Kim and I to bring a one-day seminar and fast-paced day of learning related to The Surprise Factor, we would love to explore this with you! We have several dates set aside in the late spring of 2013 especially for United Methodist conferences that would like for us to work with many of their pastors who are moving to new churches in the summer. For more information about a seminar, please write us at!

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