By Fred Koenig
I just read Bob Farr’s new book 10 Prescriptions for a Healthy Church. I didn’t expect to like it, but I work with Bob (our offices share a wall) and he gave me a copy. It would have been rather rude to give it back and say no thanks.
It’s not that I didn’t like the topic, quite the contrary, I think this is a book that needed to be written. It’s not just Bob and his co-author Kay Kotan who’ve dedicated themselves to this thing called The Healthy Church Initiative. Most of the Conference leadership in Missouri have had a hand in some part of HCI, either doing the evaluations, leading services of prayer and repentance, serving as coaches and mentors, or having their own churches evaluated. The people whom we’ve endorsed as our leaders have poured a lot of time into this thing.
After several years of doing this, they learned that many of our churches share the same challenges. Although the whole point of HCI initially was to get very personalized, individual recommendations for that church’s specific areas needing improvement, it was undeniable that most of these needs were shared by many churches. Why not have a book to summarize the problems, and prescriptions, that seem to come up again and again?
So I’m 100 percent on board with the premise of the book. The reason I was less than excited about reading it was that I figured I’d heard it all before. I’ve been listening, talking and writing about the Healthy Church Initiative since it started as a few pastors talking around a table on the west side of St. Louis. I consider myself pretty well-versed in the topic, and this book wasn’t even claiming to be revealing anything new.
Yet, I still found it engaging. This is primarily because Bob and Kay didn’t hold back on being specific, citing examples that will be familiar to all of us in Missouri. Direct quotes from numerous pastors around the Missouri conference fill the pages. There were so many references from Kevin Shelton’s HCI experience that he practically deserves to be added as a co-author.
So even if I had seen these 10 prescriptions before, seeing this book pulled together as sort of a HCI capstone is an accomplishment that I’m glad Bob and Kay took the time to produce.