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If you’re a church leader or know a church leader, a good way to start off the New Year right would be to buy a new book and either read it or give it to the leader you know.

We’re not talking just any book. There are, of course, dozens of fine books to help people do a better job of serving as leaders or active members in the church.  But we have a particular one in mind, pretty hot off the presses.

It’s called Creativity in Church Management: Entrepreneurship for a 21st-Century Parish, and is the latest installment in the Best Practices in Church Management series from Villanova University’s Center for Church Management, published by Paulist Press.

But this book is a bit different than earlier ones in the series in that it’s a collection of presentations from two conferences – called “festivals” – on management challenges facing the church and its leaders.

 The Center for Church Management at Villanova co-sponsored the events with the International School of Pastoral Management at Pontifical Lateran University in Rome. The first festival was held in Rome in 2017; the second at Villanova in 2018.

In this thin, 109-page volume you’ll discover the research and insights of nine authors presented in 11 relatively short articles. If you find even a couple of them interesting and helpful, you’ve found a bargain. But we’re betting you’ll find a lot more value here.

The book is edited by Charles E. Zech, author or editor of a dozen books related to church leadership and management issues, which should be enough to recommend it to anyone even remotely interested in church issues. But he’s traveling in superb company with the other contributors to this book.

Without wanting to single out any one of them, let me recommend two articles in particular by Mark Mogilka, co-author of the earlier work Pastoring Multiple Parishes: An Emerging Model of Pastoral Leadership, which is a handbook for any pastor or other leaders in a parish that shares its pastor.

Mogilka’s articles are:

  • Parish Pastoral Leadership: The Challenge of Fostering Unity While Nurturing Diversity, a 15-page overview of the challenges facing parishes and how to cope with them. He focuses on six challenges to unity and argues that we need a better vision of the parish as the Body of Christ.
  • New Metrics and Processors for Evaluating Parish Consolidations, a 16-page article that offers a fascinating and comprehensive description of the merger of six parishes into a single one with three worship sites, and the subsequent evaluation of the change by parishioners and parish leaders. Its conclusions offer helpful guidance for any diocesan and/or parish leaders contemplating or engaging in parish mergers.

Even if you’re not a leader, if you’re involved at all in Catholic life and have an interest in “stepping up on the balcony” and learning what some top researchers have discovered about church dynamics in the world today, you should find this book a great help.