Change Agents, by Steve Chalke

Just came across some notes I made (very diligent of me, and fortunate, as I seem to have given the book away) on Steve Chalke’s ‘Change Agents’.  This book has the virtue of being extremely short.  I really admire the amazing things that Steve Chalke has done – just look on Wikipedia, if it is to be believed!

Unlike the sad story of Jonathan Edwards, triple-jumper, who seems to have veered totally away from faith, Chalke’s faith has evolved from strictly evangelical to something more grounded, rationalised and informed than it used to be, and yet I think what I am taking from his book here is more what he has learnt about getting things done, than spirituality per se.  His book ‘The Lost Message of Jesus’ a few years ago was very controversial and provoked quite an interesting theological debate within the Evangelical Alliance – a similar flurry to Rob Bell’s ‘Love Wins’ more recently.

But when it comes to simply getting things done, he knows a few things.  I saw him on the Big Church Day out, standing on stage clutching a toilet and throwing toilet rolls out into the congregation.  Why?  Because he wants to get toilets into schools in under-developed countries?  Praiseworthy, but why?  Because then girls will GO to school, which will stop them getting trafficked for prostitution.  See the campaign here

Steve’s chapter headings in ‘Change Agents’ in the book are as follows:

1 – Others only ever see your mountaintop experiences

2 – respond, don’t react

3 – you can’t be everyone’s best mate

4 – every ‘yes’ implies at least one ‘no’

5 – people matter more than programmes

6 – action leads to insight more often than insight leads to action

7 – the journey with others is slower than the journey alone

8 – under promise, over deliver

9 – nothing is ever quite as good or as bad as it first seems

10 – vision and frustration are the same thing

11 – success is three days in between two crises

12 – great leadership is measured by what’s left after you’re gone

13 – individualism is the enemy of individuality

14 – approach every problem with an open mind rather than an open mouth

15 – admiration works best from a distance

16 – trust evolves, it is never a simple ‘on’ or ‘off’ affair

17 – praise is the miracle tool

18 – keep the main thing, the main thing

19 – people follow people not disembodied principles

20 – inclusion never demands conformity

21 – nothing is so simple that it cannot be misunderstood

22 – followers expect easy answers, leaders know there are none

23 – no progress without process

24 – you can’t do what you can’t imagine

25 – if it ain’t broke, break it

Some of those require more explanation than I can give here (and I read the book a couple of years ago) (find it here on Amazon), but some are fairly obvious, especially about a message never being to simple to be misunderstood.  I think I’m guilty in particular of making things more complicated than they need to be.  Bite-sized chunks and all that.

I also noted down some amusing or interesting quotations from the book, for example:

“Over the years, I’ve seen too many Christian friends crash and burn because they’ve compounded the natural stress of their jobs with the myth that their lives are supposed to be constantly ordered, successful, triumphant and under control.”  I can understand that there always seems to be the pressure in church circles for everything to be sorted, perfect – a veneer of perfection.  As if we’ve reached heaven already.  And God will only step in when we run out of ourselves anyway. Why does He need to get involved if we’re doing fine on our own?

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm”  Winston Churchill.  This reminds me of something Sam Beckett said: “Fail again.  Fail better.”  Another Churchill quote: “Always listen to your worst enemies as well as your best friends.  They are both telling you the truth, but from slightly different perspectives.”  An interesting consideration is whether we could really be having an impact for God if we think we have no enemies!  (I used to think I didn’t have any enemies…) .

Also, in terms of change, and getting things done, in church circles: “It’s a good thing that when God created the rainbow he didn’t have to consult a church members meeting or he might still be struggling to get the colours finalised.” It’s striking – I think Leonard Ravenhill said this – that when God wanted something doing in the Bible he never raised up a committee; he raised up a man (i.e. person).  What is it with churches and committees and working parties?  (I am saying this on the verge of proposing that our leadership team set one up!)

“If you can’t imagine it, you can’t do it.”  Albert Einstein.  This is perhaps my favourite quotation out of the ones I noted down.  The opposite must be true as well – namely that we should only set out to do the things that we imagine.  So often I have noticed that I propose to other people, in the ‘office’ of leading them, an idea that actually I have no real concept how it will shake out in practice.  A good questioner asks: ‘So what will that look like then?’ and I have no idea.  God, give us sanctified imaginations, that can see Your future and help us to bring it about.  None of us should be happy unless You are changing the world through us.

About stayingfaithful

I am looking for anything that relates to life and to a fuller life. I am bored by the normal and the natural and interested in the supernatural. There must be more than this. We were put on this earth for more than a nine to five prison, as someone said a few years ago.
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