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Books on Specialized Interim Ministry

Must Read Books

Temporary Shepherds
A Congregational Handbook for Interim Ministry

The Power of Vision
Discover and Apply God's Plan for your Life and Ministry

Other Books

Appreciative Inquiry:
Change at the Speed of Imagination

The Thin Book of Appreciative Inquiry, 2nd edition

Healthy Congregations
a Systems Approach

The Interim Pastor's Manual
revised edition

The Power of Asset Mapping

Books on other pages

Crucial Conversations

The Thin Book on Naming Elephants

Appreciative Inquiry:
Change at the Speed of Imagination
Jane Magruder Watkins, Bernard J. Mohr
Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer (Wiley & Sons, Inc), 2001 - 241 pages, paperback
Rating: 5 stars

As I have said below in The Thin Book of Appreciative Inquiry, Appreciative Inquiry [AI]is a growing field in SIM ministry. This book will provide you with a comprehensive "how-to" on using this valuable technique. While it is written for a secular, corporate audience, the book can easily be translated to church work. After the theoretical sections, that book provides a step by step guide to every part of Appreciative Inquiry from start to finish. They also provide many interesting “though, again, secular-corporate) illustrations for you to observe AI “in the wild”.

The process as Watkins and Mohr detail it is, perhaps, too detailed for all SIM situations. However, the detailed retreats can be compressed or even combined (end-to-end) to fit any church setting. Anyone wanting to use AI will want this book on their shelves and, as the work the process, in their hands. (There’s too much information to learn it all. Use this book as a handbook.” Also consider getting The Thin Book of Appreciative Inquiry as a supplement and overview.

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The Thin Book of Appreciative Inquiry, 2nd edition
Sue Annis Hammond
Thin Book Publishing, (no publication date)
63 pages, paperback
Rating: 4 stars

Appreciative Inquiry [AI] is a growing field in SIM ministry. Some SIMs are being trained in “Appreciative Inquiry Interim Ministry”. (see the SIM training links on the bottom of my resources page. I have also provided an overview of AI.) Most AI books are too long and complex to really comprehend without a guide or prior introduction. This book fills that bill. It will give you all the essential concepts and steps to explore and use this method of discerning a church's mission.

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Healthy Congregations
a Systems Approach
Peter L. Steinke
The Alban Institute, 2001
118 pages, paperback
Rating: 4 stars

Much of SIM ministry revolves around the "Family Systems Theory" pioneered by Bowen. In this shor volume, Steinke makes this theory accessible to and applicable to the church. Read it. Just understand that, while it gives you some tools, this is not the only glasses through which to look at church dynamics. You would do well to supplement this (and other psychological perspectives) with books such as Comeback Churches by Stetzer and Dodson.

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The Interim Pastor's Manual
revised edition
Alan G. Gripes
Geneva Press, 1997
150 pages, paperback
Rating: 5 stars

While this manual specifically focuses on SIM ministry in the PC(USA), any Interim (especially young interims) from any denomination will find it a useful outline of the processes and tasks with many good suggestions on how to implement them. The real jewels in this are the chapter devoted to the spouses of Interims, on the types of interim ministry and how to approach them and the many itemized lists found in the text itself. If you are not PC(USA) you can probably translate the information to your own situation quite easily. If you use this book as a step-by-step as you work your Interim you will find it easy to catch all the "loose ends" of ministry and be effective.

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The Power of Asset Mapping
Luther K. Snow
The Alban Institute, 2004
148 pages, paperback
Rating: 4+ stars

Snow presents us with the step-sister to Appreciative Inquiry. [see Appreciative Inquiry: Change at the Speed of Imagination and The Thin Book of Appreciative Inquiry.] Like AI, Asset Mapping focuses on the positive aspects of an organization. Indeed, on page 57 Snow presents us with an “Asset-Based Appreciation Exercise” which makes the similarity and even connection between the two clear.

Unlike AI, Asset Mapping focuses on the present assets of an organization, not the past experiences or future dreams. It also seems to be a shorter process. Whether this would be an advantage or not would, I suppose, depend on the situation. AI depends on people having positive enough thoughts to see something good in the past or future. Asset Mapping only needs the ability to observe the real assets which immediately surround us.

Snow's book gives step-by-step instructions on how to run a (one-day) Asset Mapping retreat. The many comments embedded in the text by consultants who have used this method, along with the long Q&A sections in the back make this a very informative book. The process he describes, if followed carefully, would (it appears) lead to new perspectives and thoughts. It seems a very good way to get a church "unstuck" from the rut of ministry they may have fallen into.

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Temporary Shepherds
A Congregational Handbook for Interim Ministry
Roger S. Nicholson
The Alban Institute, 1998
205 pages, paperback
Rating: 5 stars

This is the classic manual on Interim Ministry. Anyone who is curious about Interim Ministry could do worse than read this book. No SIM should be without it.
It includes basic overviews of the 5 Interim Tasks and 5 Interim Processes along with bible-studies for congregations concerning each of these along with liturgies for the SIM joining and leaving the congregation.

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The Power of Vision
Discover and Apply God's Plan for your Life and Ministry
George Barna
Regal/Gospel Light, rev. 2009
204 pages, paperback
Rating: 5 stars

By the time I read page 33 I shouted out in my own living room, "Yes. Somebody actually gets it about Church Vision Statements!" By the time I had read page 39 I knew I had to recommend this book highly. It's not that there is anything that revolutionary in Barna's latest revision of his Vision book. However, he is the first writer I have read that clearly enunciates what a real vision statement looks like and how it works. This book will help any mission-study/ Pastor-search committee seeking to write more that the sort of pablum common on church letterheads. Since Barna's writes in such a basic and accessible manner, this book lends itself to lay people reading it en masse. You can scan the book quickly because the highlights for every chapter are summarized in short phrases at the beginning of each. Don't miss this book and don't let pathetic excuses for vision statements ever clutter your church life again.

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See also on the Leadership page

Crucial Conversations

The Thin Book on Naming Elephants

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