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Neil Cole’s Organic Leadership, reviewed by Michelle Vondey

The reader might find immediate access to the argument difficult for a number of reasons. First, Cole does not define his terms. What exactly does he mean by organic leadership? Also, what does he mean by leading naturally? Cole attempts to explain it in a few sentences in the preface, but his explanation is not very clear, and in subsequent chapters the reader may still struggle with what it means to do organic leadership or to be a natural leader. Second, the amount of criticism launched at bad church leaders, not only in section one, but also throughout the remaining sections, is somewhat over-the-top. Cole wants to make readers uncomfortable, and he succeeds. Unfortunately, he continues to lament poor church leadership in the subsequent sections as he attempts to provide a remedy. His book is not a complete discouragement, but less criticism and more positive outcomes of how specific leaders have used his principles would be more helpful to the Christian who wants to be a transforming agent in his or her community.

The chief strength of the book is Cole’s emphasis on empowering members of the church to take on leadership roles. He argues that pastors cannot go it alone if they expect to have continued success in their ministries. Not only is the lone wolf approach unbiblical, it can have serious negative consequences on both the pastors and the congregations they serve. Cole wants to help seasoned pastors learn how to mentor emergent leaders from within the church in order to expand God’s kingdom throughout the world. He also wants to help the laity realize their full potential for ministry in the kingdom of God. His perspective is clear: Christians do not have to be pastors in order to be used by God to reach others for Him.

Cole does not hold back with his criticism of poor church leaders and leadership. If you are easily offended when someone questions your authority, you will not like this book. If, however, you find yourself wondering why there are so few people who are willing to commit to the ministries of the church, and you are seeking to raise up new leaders in the congregation, you will want to pay attention to his principles of servanthood, mentoring, and reproducing leaders.

Reviewed by Michelle Vondey

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Category: Fall 2012, Ministry, Pneuma Review

About the Author: Michelle Vondey, Ph.D. (Regent University) and M.Div. (Church of God Theological Seminary), has more than twenty years’ experience working in non-profit organizations. Her interests are focused mainly on developing followers in their roles in organizations. She teaches courses in leadership, critical reasoning, and Christian discipleship. 2012 dissertation LinkedIn

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