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LIBERTY UNIVERSITY

ADVANCED STRATEGIC PLANNING: A NEW MODEL FOR CHURCH AND MINISTRY


LEADERS

A BOOK REVIEW SUBMITTED TO DR. DANIEL MOOSBRUGGER

IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE CLASS

VISION AND STRATEGIC PLANNING - CLED 620

LIBERTY BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY

BY

DANIEL K. GANN

CORSICANA, TX

FEBRUARY 20, 2011


TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1

AUTHOR’S PURPOSE ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1

WAS THE AUTHOR’S PURPOSE ACCOMPLISHED --------------------------------------------- 2

STRENGTHS ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3

WEAKNESSES --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 4

SPECIAL FEATURES ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 4

AUDIENCE THAT WOULD BENEFIT FROM READING --------------------------------------- 5

CONCLUSION --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 5

BIBLIOGRAPHY ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 6
iii
INTRODUCTION

The purpose of this paper is to review Advanced Strategic Planning: A New Model for

Church and Ministry Leaders. The author of this book, Aubrey Malphurs, is recognized

nationally as an expert on leadership. He has written more than 20 books in the field of

leadership development and strategic planning for churches.1 Malphurs also planted a church,

and served as pastor of two other churches. All of this was accomplished during his time as

professor of pastoral ministries at Dallas Theological Seminary. Since 1997, he has been

focusing his time teaching and leading The Malphurs Group.2

AUTHOR’S PURPOSE

Unlike Warren’s work, The Purpose Driven Life, Malphurs did not seem to have a clear

purpose statement in Advanced Strategic Planning. Instead, he introduces his work by explaining

the megachange that our society is going through. He follows his explanation with the following:

The consequence is a massive shift in our culture, science, society, and institutions. This
change is enormously greater than the world has ever experienced, and we are caught in
the middle of it. We are living at a frightening point of absolute, chaotic discontinuity,
watching the old die off and the new rush in to fill the vacuum.3

Malphurs then follows the previous passage with one sentence; “Where is the church in all this?

How is it doing?”4 Additionally, the back cover of this book states, “…Advance Strategic

Planning walks you through the process of answering nine fundamental ministry questions.”5 It

1
The Malphurs Group, Team Biography (accessed on February 20, 2011 from
http://www.malphursgroup.com/AboutUs/Team.html).
2
Ibid.
3
Aubrey Malphurs, Advanced Strategic Planning: A New Model for Church and Ministry Leaders, (Grand
Rapids, Michigan: Baker Publishing Group) 8.
4
Ibid.
5
Ibid., back cover.
1
seems to me that the purpose of this book is to investigate and offer an insight into the

aforementioned ministry questions.

WAS THE AUTHOR’S PURPOSE ACCOMPLISHED

In critically reviewing this text, we must ask the question; “Was the author’s purpose

accomplished?” In order to answer this question, I feel that I must give, at least a couple of brief

summaries of the information found in chapters throughout his book. These summaries will

attempt to show that Malphurs proposed and attempted to answer the “ministry questions,”

which were spoken of while attempting to determine the author’s purpose.

In the introduction, Malphurs discusses the sigmoid curve. He stated, “The message or

lesson of the sigmoid curve is that all good things (and even some bad things) end.6 He then

points out that, “Even brand-new institutions and organizations such as a church will, in time,

plateau and then die. No matter what institution it is, organizational “dry rot” sets in. The

institution becomes brittle, ceases to function, and expires”7 The sigmoid curve is one of the

problematic questions that Malphurs is seeking to deal with. The solution that Malphurs presents

for this problem is that the church must “launch new S-curves”8 This is a process carried out

through the work of strategic planning.

In chapter one, Malphurs addresses the importance of understanding strategic planning.

He also notes that strategic planning addresses organizational questions.9 Chapter two assesses

the readiness of the leadership to begin strategic planning. This is pursued by noticing the

attitudes of the congregation and leaders. These couple of examples are enough for me to believe

that the author, Aubrey Malphurs, did accomplish his purpose in writing this book.
6
Malphurs, Advanced Strategic Planning: A New Model for Church and Ministry Leaders, (Grand Rapids,
Michigan: Baker Publishing Group) 11.
7
Ibid.
8
Ibid., 12.
9
Ibid., 25.

2
STRENGTHS

An obvious strength of Advanced Strategic Planning is that Malphurs has a heart for the

church. He is concerned for the typical church in North America, which he likens “to a ship

without a compass, drifting aimlessly on the ocean.”10 The ship is struggling to stay afloat,

buffeted by “the winds of change and the currents of postmodernism11” which threaten to lead

“the church even farther off course.”12 The strategic planning process is Malphurs’ response to

this crisis. His heart for the local church shows itself in numerous places throughout the book. 2.

Throughout this book, one notices a sincere desire to preserve the unity and harmony of

the church’s fellowship in the midst of the strategic planning process. For example, in speaking

about the necessary communication between pastor and congregation, Malphurs writes,

If you conduct secret meetings and fail to communicate in general what happens in those
meetings, you will not be able to lead the congregation, because they will not trust you…
During the strategic planning process, as well as at any other time, you must
communicate, communicate, and then communicate some more.13

This type of advice shows a positive concern for the unity of the body. Malphurs seems to really

care for the state of the Church.

Malphurs also attempts to ground his call for strategic planning in the Bible. Chapter

three is called, Laying a Spiritual Foundation. This chapter is an 11 page section on the spiritual

principles that must accompany the planning process.14 In each of these areas, as in others,

Malphurs seeks to ground the planning process in the principles of scripture, and godly behavior.

10
Malphurs, Advanced Strategic Planning: A New Model for Church and Ministry Leaders, (Grand Rapids,
Michigan: Baker Publishing Group) 31.
11
Ibid.
12
Ibid.
13
Ibid., 63.
14
Ibid., 79-90,

3
WEAKNESSES

It seems that Malphurs places much more emphasis on strategic planning. He seems to

regard it as the principal means by which churches in decline may be saved and returned to

health. With this noted, I think Malphurs could possibly be overestimating the value of strategic

planning. In my opinion, planning would be good preventative maintenance, not a good rescue

plan. The church should mostly depend on its preaching of the Gospel, its exercise of the

ordinances, and its development of healthy congregational life?

Malphurs’s model focuses too much on the church as institution and not enough on the

church as family. This overly institutional focus can lead to an institutional solution for the

church’s problems. An institutional solution can lead us away from the simple Bible plan of

healthy church and growth.

Advanced Strategic Planning summarizes traditional polity and then presents a model to

replace it. Malphurs rejects the traditional elder-led polity of the Bible. He leans more towards

elder-rule. He notes that “Government by elders or elder rule is when power is vested in a

governing board of elders and not in the congregation. Thus the congregation has no power, not

even when it acts corporately, which is rare if it happens at all”15 This could be a definite

weakness. I believe that the members of a church should have a voice.

SPECIAL FEATURES

The special features of this book revolve around its design as an analytical, practical, self-

application book on how to strategically plan. The appendices of the book are full of sample

15
Malphurs, Advanced Strategic Planning: A New Model for Church and Ministry Leaders, (Grand Rapids,
Michigan: Baker Publishing Group) 218.

4
evaluations, appraisals, surveys, and ministry descriptions. There are also diagrams, charts, and

graphs which are designed to help you with implementing strategic planning.

AUDIENCE THAT WOULD PROFIT FROM READING

The audience of this book would be pastors, associate pastors, and anyone else on a

church staff, or leadership, whom might participate in strategic planning. Due to it being a text

for this course, another obvious audience is seminary students.

CONCLUSION

Advanced Strategic Planning is a good book to have in your library. Malphurs truly has a

passion for the church. This sometimes seems to be missing from the modern literature on the

church. There are a ton of great ideas in this book. However, as with any of today’s popular

writings, there are take-aways, give-aways, and get-rid-ofs.

Malphurs’s synopsis of the problems that are affecting many churches is accurate. Many

churches today are having to face decline, and possibly closure. Their leaders and members are

disgruntled and discouraged. We have to do something. I did not entirely agree with every

specific detail that Malphurs presented. However, I do agree with his attitude and the spirit

behind the book.

5
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Malphurs, Aubrey. Advanced Strategic Planning: A New Model for Church and Ministry
Leaders. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Publishing Group. 2005.

The Malphurs Group, Team Biography. Accessed on February 20, 2011 from
http://www.malphursgroup.com/AboutUs/Team.html.