Scott Wilson is an emerging leader in the Assemblies of God and the church world at large. I have been watching and learning from him and his church, The Oaks Fellowship, for several years. I’ve become friends with many on his staff, and Scott and his church are the real deal. In his preaching, his writing, and his personal interaction with others, Scott maintains the same sincerity and authenticity at all times. Leaders like him are a rare find.
In Steering Through Chaos, Scott outlines timeless truths which he has discovered throughout his years of ministry, both from those who have poured into his life and from renowned church leaders like Bill Hybels, Andy Stanely, Troy Grambling, Dino Rizzo and many others. Thus, a good part of Scott’s book reflects truths with which pastors and leaders are already familiar, but he sheds new light on these truths in practical and authentic ways.
Chapter 1 is a great read for those that find their church hitting the all-too-familiar glass ceiling, which often happens because of a need for change in leadership, structural change, or strategic management. Scott uses his own experience to add deeper insight into the cost of growth.
Chapter 2 deals with vision proper. As I am a strategist and not a visionary, this chapter was a tough one for me. By using the acronym F.O.C.U.S., Scott gives a pointed and practical reminder to focus on the vision:
F – First Things First
O – Other Things Second
C – Cut Out the Unimportant
U – Unify Behind the Vision
S – Stick with It
Chapter 3 addresses an area of strategic growth that all organizations need to hear. As a company, church, or organization grows and changes, so do staff roles and responsibilities. Using Bill Hybels’ model of “character, competence, and connect,” Scott adds the idea of capacity to the list of evaluating staff. For some churches, this chapter alone will be worth the price of the book.
In chapter 4, Scott refreshes the idea of cascading communication. Where you start and end with your vision, and the process in-between, has a profound impact on your momentum, and he connects this idea to the health of the pastor-staff communication process.
Chapter 5 tackles a distinct and key leadership characteristic in the pentecostal and charismatic movement: Spirit-led leadership. Scott doesn’t dismiss the importance of planning for change, but adds the element of private and corporate prayer as the church moves forward. This chapter is all too often left out of published resources on vision casting.
Scott discusses obstacles and opportunities in chapter 6. Not a lot of new material in this chapter, but Scott gives a great reminder that leaders should take to heart: “Far too often leaders fail to see opportunities because we’re blinded by the urgent, nagging problems right in front of us.” (132)
Chapter 7 deals with a growing trend in churches: the art of storytelling. My friend Matt Knisely blogged about this chapter for the Steering Through Chaos blog tour, where he discusses the root of storytelling in every culture. You can read Matt’s summary of chapter 7, “Celebrating Every Step of the Way,” here.
Chapter 8 was the chapter that most captivated my attention. Here, Scott discusses the importance of having coaches and mentors in your life. As a young leader, I am in constant need of someone with whom I can brainstorm ideas, discuss what’s on my mind, and who can offer me correction when I need it. In this chapter, Scott identifies the six people you need in your life:
- An Accurate Mirror
- A Vision Stretcher
- A Gifted Strategist
- A Trusted Confidante
- A Pace Setter
- A Wise Counselor
Chapter 9 takes a more in-depth look at how the vision and structure at The Oaks Fellowship work together to achieve the overall mission of the church. By discussing the strategies of The Oaks Fellowship, Scott paints a picture of how to apply vision in church ministry. I relate this idea to Will Mancini’s idea of “open source vision casting” or “vision drip.” That is to say, how does vision ooze into all areas of the church’s structure and mission? (If you are a Twitter user, check out #visiondrip.)
Finally, chapter 10 is quite an inspirational overview full of stories, ideas, and reminders of why vision matters…why pastors do what they do…why we lead through and manage chaos…why we put up with stress, long hours, and heartache. And we do all of this because the mission of the local church matters.
Overall, Steering Through Chaos is a solid read. I recommend this book to pastors and leaders who are experiencing any degree of change in their church or organization. The chapter study guides and the pastoral profiles included throughout the reading are an invaluable resource to apply Scott’s teachings to your life. This book is also advantageous to anyone leading a nonprofit (or what I like to go for-purpose organization) who desires to take the nonprofit/charity to the next level.