The Five Phases of Leadership by Justyn Terry.  Langham Publishing 2021 136 pp

Books and courses for those called to lead Christian institutions and communities have exploded in numbers in the last 40 years. Justyn Terry, who has been a parish vicar, college president in the USA and now the vice-principal of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, has read most of them.  He lists 90 in his bibliography and refers to them throughout.

He identifies five phases of leadership as to establish trust, to cultivate leaders, to discern vision, to implement plans and to transition out.  Each phase is well illustrated from his own experience in parish and institution, and with evidence and support drawn from his wide reading,

Each chapter ends with two or three questions to enable the reader to engage the material with their own situation

The chapters are packed full of common sense, wisdom and practical advice.  It is more of a manual to be dipped into again and again when any of the five phases he identifies is relevant.

An emerging debate needs to be explored further.  Dr Terry’s resources are taken from the last 40 years during which time the work of business leaders and sociologists has come to the fore in defining and training leadership. Much of this has been absorbed by the church in the West from where almost all his bibliography is taken. For Africa, The African Leadership Study website resource needs to be noted:

Rev Dr Rollin Grams has suggested in a series of essays that the term ‘’leadership’ lends itself better to discussing oversight of an institution than it does to ministry.  People very often bring in business and the social sciences when defining ‘leadership’ and then just use a Bible verse to support a theory that comes from outside the Bible.” He advocates “ that we simply drop the language of ‘leadership’ when talking about ministry (even ‘servant leadership’ is confusing and unhelpful)….Many points (about ministry) apply to every believer and some apply to particular ministries (church planting, foreign missions).”

This is not to close the debate, but to note that terms such as servant, steward and minister are being advocated as more suited for Christian church communities than leader.

Chris Sugden