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The Big Four
A Book Review by Steve McHan
In his most recent book, The Big Four: Secrets to a Thriving Church Family, Joseph Kidder’s passion for effective pastoral practice shines through. Sharing from his personal experience and personal investigation into thriving Adventist congregations, Kidder outlines the big four essentials for thriving churches in the 21st century:

1: Empowering Servant Leadership. Kidder tells us that leaders of thriving churches have a contagious hope that springs from a vibrant connection with Jesus. They intentionally replicate this hope in the next generation of leaders. They don’t go it alone nor do they try to do it alone.

2: Passionate and Authentic Spirituality. Effective pastoral leadership rises out of a passionate and authentic relationship with Christ. While discussions of personal spiritual practice can elicit a fear of excesses, Kidder quickly puts those potential fears to rest. True spirituality begins and ends with Jesus, it cultivates a mindset centered on God and is bathed in prayer.

3. Committed and Active Laity. Kidder is convinced that a committed and active laity is essential to the health and growth of the church. He tells us that our church members are eager to make a difference in God’s kingdom and will do so when they are shown how and given the opportunity. And he reminds us that it is loving and lovable Christians who best exemplify Christ.
4. God-exalting Worship. Let’s have a drum roll for the fourth imperative… While drums are actually never mentioned in the worship section of this book, Kidder does call us to experience God’s presence and grace, loving community, and personal experience in the times of worship we share together.

While the “secrets” packed into the subtitle and pages of this book may lead some to assume Kidder is offering us some long-sought-for short-cut to success, he is quick to remind us that transformational change does not happen overnight. Vital, growing ministry springs from a transformation life with Christ over the long haul.

This book’s message is easily accessible with abundant lists, clear headings and formatting that highlight content. Each point is generously illustrated with clearly worded pictures. A careful read will be well worth your time.

Steve McHan is pastor of the Sacramento Woodside, CA Church