[dc]E[/dc]very once in a while a book comes along that is so helpful and so informative you have to have it nearby at all times¬† J. Val Hastings’s slim volume, Change Your Questions, Change Your Church(affiliate link), is just such a book. It is filled with practical wisdom and useful guidance that every intentional interim will treasure.

Interim Pastor’s Task

The intentional interim pastor’s most important, and often most difficult, task is to create an environment and present a set of experiences that will provide an opportunity for genuine transformation to occur in the hearts and minds of the people. The deliberate intent to precipitate transformation is a primary distinction between the transitional pastor – a.k.a. intentional interim pastor – and the interim who provides continuity between settled pastors.

Helping the congregation write a new narrative, to edit their story so it opens them up to new ways of being the church and of seeing themselves is a mission critical task. One highly effective way to start them editing their story is to pose new questions. People respond to open-ended questions creatively. The question transports them from the “here and now” to the “then and there”, allowing them to explore new ways of thinking and being that have been closed off.

A book for every interim pastor’s toolbox

The subtitle of this book, “How to lead with powerful questions” alludes to the value of this book. The book is an easy read. It’s also a fun read, filled with stories of churches I’ve seen and led. The book demonstrates how to create an atmosphere that promotes change while dialing back the conflict meter.

The book’s structure is straightforward and well organized:

  • Section One: How History Changed on a Single Question
  • Section Two: What Are Powerful Questions?
  • Section 3: Do Your Questions Need Reframing
  • Section 4: Success Stories – How These Churches Reframed Their Questions and What Happened Next
  • Section 5: How to Reframe Your Questions and Change Your Church

The Appendices are worth their weight in gold.

  • Appendix A gives a few hints about how to use the book as a resource tool. Appendix B lists resource questions for every day of the year – 365 powerful questions at your finger tips.
  • Appendix C offers questions in four categories: resource questions, action questions, thought-provoking questions, reality check questions and acknowledgement questions.
  • Appendix D suggests powerful questions to be asked at various stages in the problem-solving process.

I see another book idea in this: developing powerful questions that can be used with good effect at each of the seven stages of the church transformation process. Maybe you’re the one to write it!

Conclusion

I like to give books away. Over the years I’ve given away hundreds of volumes that I’ve read and used profitably.

But not this one.

It belongs on that shelf of “Stuff I Can’t Life Without.”

So go get your own.