The Fly in the Ointment

Why Denominations Aren't Helping Their Congregations...and How They Can

J. Russell Crabtree

Oct/2008, 178 Pages, Paperback, 6 x 9

ISBN-13: 9780898696066



Essential guide to identify real-world issues and conflicts facing congregations and their leaders and strategies to adapt.

The Fly in the Ointment is an important resource for churches and church leaders as they explore how to transform themselves into vital, flourishing organizations. That transformation requires deep, systemic change on the part of regional associations, such as dioceses, presbyteries, synods, and conferences—the bodies that are meant to help congregations live their mission in the world. This book addresses the challenging issues of coping with changes and conflict in congregations and denominations in the face of cultural changes.

J. Russell Crabtree is a Presbyterian minister and founder of Holy Cow! Consulting in Henderson, North Carolina, which offers strategic planning, management training, operational planning, coaching, staff retreats, and other services to spiritual and secular organizations. He is the co-author of The Elephant in the Boardroom: Developing a Pastoral Succession Plan for Your Church and the author of Owl Sight: Evidence-Based Discernment and the Promise of Organizational Intelligence for Ministry.

"Church leaders who desire to transform their regional associations need to read this book. Russ Crabtree offers a perspective that is lacking in denominational circles about the current reality and condition of the church. It challenges current assumptions and efforts of church leaders who are attempting to do transformational ministry, while at the same time offering strategic insights as to how to facilitate lasting systemic change and renewal. The Fly In the Ointment is a must read for church leaders who don’t want to 'do business as usual' and those who have a passion to help the church meet the challenges and changing nature of Christian ministry in the 21st century. Russ Crabtree offers strategic insights for transformational ministry at all levels of the church. His proactive approach is both practical and hopeful. The Fly In the Ointment provides a 'game plan' for the transformation of regional associations such as presbyteries, conferences, and dioceses, and how they can help local congregations move toward vitality and growth."—The Rev. Douglas E. Portz, Associate Pastor for Mid-sized Churches, Pittsburgh Presbytery, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

"If you are holding this book in your hands, you have a longing for judicatories to matter. If you read it, you won't agree with everything Russ says, but you will grapple with things your judicatory can—and should—do that will matter for your mission. I wish I'd had this book when I began to serve Pittsburgh Presbytery in 1998."—The Rev. Dr. James E. Mead, Pastor to Pittsburgh Presbytery, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1998-2007

"The Fly in the Ointment should be a must-read for all who are involved in ministry at a regional level. Russ Crabtree effectively articulates the issues at hand and suggests the steps needed to move regional associations forward in developing vital, healthy congregations. For those of us working at a regional level, it can serve as a catalyst for personal reflection and group interaction."—Mark R. Stromberg, Associate Superintendent, Northwest Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church

"This is a very important book for leaders of regional associations to read. It looks at effective leadership from these organizations in a fresh way and challenges them to truly be servant leaders to the congregations. A very good book."—The Rev. Mike Weaver, Pastor, All Saints Lutheran Church, Worthington, Ohio

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