A radically new vision of mainline church leadership

Helping people think differently in changing times

“What are the issues that the church must confront?” I ask seminarians. “Sexism.” “Rac­ism.” “Pover­ty,” they call out. I reply dramatically, “None of that will change without someone taking responsibility, stepping up, and leading.” But what kind of leadership is needed?

After a lifetime of consultative work with Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish systems around the world, Gil Rendle packs everything he’s learned into the decade’s best book on church leadership. Quietly Courageous opens with, “The established institutional church cannot now thrive on the good leadership it currently has.” Pastors must learn to embody “quiet, courageous, purposeful leadership.”

According to Rendle, most pastors grew up in a convergent culture—one characterized by commonality of purpose, a sense of unity, and shared values. Those same pastors are now called to lead in a divergent culture—one that celebrates variety, expresses diversity, and stresses differences. Mainline church leadership was easy in a convergent culture, Rendle writes, because “it isn’t difficult to lead people in the direction they are already going.” At some point, though, people stopped saying, “We’re here because my family has always been Methodist.” They began saying, “Show us what your church can do for us or we’re walking.”