orrows and heartaches are just a part of life. They are, in the final analysis, unavoidable. Nevertheless, there are “church sorrows and heartaches” that not only could be avoided but should be avoided at all costs. My experience as president at three different institutions for the training of ministers, covering a period of thirty-two years, plus serving as pastor of a number of local churches, has taught me well the tragedies of people in the churches. There is scarcely a week that goes by that I am not called by a brokenhearted pastor or an irate church member or in some other way thrust into the midst of dissension within congregations.
Like any observant pastor, Dr. Bill Blanchard, who holds a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and who has extensive years of service as a senior pastor, has observed these same sorrows all over the world and has grown weary of these unnecessary church squabbles. He has worked determinedly across the years to find a biblical way to structure a New Testament church, suggesting a foundation and framework for successfully handling these issues. Though these suggestions do not guarantee growthonly the Holy Spirit can do thatthey do encourage it. Out of his scholarly research and pastoral experience, Dr. Blanchard has provided this superb volume entitled Church Structure That Works: Turning Dysfunction into Health.
Dr. Blanchard has one of those remarkable personalities that combines the ability to be a strong, decisive leader with ironclad convictions, and yet he does so with the gentleness of a tender shepherd working with his flock. Indeed, some of that remarkable combination of attributes becomes apparent to the reader as he reads this volume and its helpful appendices.
It is a surprising fact that so few books have ever appeared on church structure. Most books about the church either focus primarily on theology or else have become nothing more than manuals describing how certain things were achieved in a given location. There is nothing wrong with either of these. In fact, the present volume is based solidly upon an appropriate ecclesiology or theology of the church. However, it also fills an incomparable need, namely, to provide a book on how you actually go about structuring the local church based on theological moorings that enable that church to plan and produce a significant Christ-honoring congregation, as well as successfully handle conflicts that arise.
Because the principles embodied herein are founded directly upon the Word of God, they can be implemented effectively in just about any size of church, in almost any denomination, and certainly in any culture found in the world. This book moves beyond just theory, and is the result of what has actually been implemented successfully in two congregations, namely, the two to whom this volume is dedicated.
Among the many virtues of this book, there is at least one that I want specifically to mention. Pastors are busy people and, as much as they would like to take time to read long tomes with extensive annotations, it just does not reasonably take place very often. This book is comprehensive but at the same time succinct. One can easily follow the development of the book and quickly ascertain how its suggestions might be implemented in the local congregation.
Church Structure That Works: Turning Dysfunction into Health encourages my mind and heart because I know that if something similar to the structure and plan outlined in this book were inculcated in most of our churches, I would receive far fewer phone calls of desperation than come my way now. I know that Jesus Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her. And, because I love Jesus Christ, I love His church also. When I hear of hurting and sorrowing pastors, I experience a measure of that hurt also. There is quite enough hurt in the world without adding to anybody’s burden. I thank God for a pastor like Dr. Bill Blanchard, who has identified a root cause of so many difficulties within the church and has known how to address it. This book is essential reading for all pastors, ministerial staff members, church planters, missionaries, deacons, and other church leaders. May God bless Bill Blanchard and this helpful volume.