Leadershift. By Doug Murren. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1994. 228 pp. Cloth, $15.99.
Doug Murren is a self-proclaimed “third-wave charismatic” who believes that all the sign gifts (such as prophecy) are active today. He has seen his church in Kirkland, Washington grow from just a few members to several thousand in less than 15 years.
On the surface, Murren seems to discuss a subject of great merit: churches definitely need more and better leaders. And, of course, being a leader in 1995 requires some different skills and gifts than in the past. However, shortly into the first chapter, the reader will discover that this is merely another in the barrage of books about the “seeker-sensitive” model of church growth.
The author claims that “the underlying purpose of the book is to help churches reach lost and hurting people—it is a book about evangelism” (p. 8). Such a statement immediately ignites the interest of anyone committed to the clear proclamation of the Gospel. Unfortunately, this “book about evangelism” fails to discuss effective ways to communicate the Gospel. Rather it presents chapter after chapter about paradigm changes and how to attract the unchurched into the worship service.
Largely anecdotal in nature, Murren’s discussion of paradigms is worthy of some positive critique. He has a firm grasp on the nature of change and how to manage change. He correctly concludes, “The most effective among us will be those who can communicate a vision and inspire others to work toward it” (p. 53).
The complaint this reviewer has with Leadershift is that this method of church growth compromises sound doctrine for the sake of packed pews. For example, Murren once invited an avowed non-Christian to preach to his congregation of 4,000 people during a worship service (p. 47). His rationale for inviting Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein to preach: “I had him here to illustrate the paradigm of love” (p. 48). It seems that Murren hoped that by reaching out to Eckstein and sharing his pulpit with him, he might eventually win him to the Lord. This method of evangelism is not only unusual, it neglects the needs of the congregation who had gathered to hear a Spirit-filled message from the Word of God.
In his analysis of the unchurched (p. 58), the author states, “They don’t have a concept of final authority. . .The concept of trusting the Bible as infallible is foreign to most modern ears.” Therefore, he says, “Communicators must take their listeners through a logical process and allow them to join in the process of making a conclusion” (p. 58). This is a dangerous approach to take. Whether or not the world acknowledges that God’s Word is the truth doesn’t change the fact that it is the Truth. As someone has said, “We don’t need to argue over how sharp the sword of God’s Word is… we just need to use it!”
Tremont Baptist Church