Reaching the Summit: Avoiding and Reversing Decline in the Church


Encouraging, challenging, insightful and practical are words to describe the work George Yates has accomplished with his book Reaching the Summit. The subtitle of the book is “Avoiding and Reversing the Decline in the Church.” He methodically works through the five phases of decline: “Loss of Vision,” “Lack of Purpose,” “Denial of Reality,” “Grasping for Survival” and “Relinquishment of Ministry.”

Then he begins the process in section two of identifying the principles and strategies for “Reversing and Avoiding Decline.”

So much of what you read in his text is common sense to the observer but difficult for the practitioner. Using subtle humor and clear illustrations throughout helps the reader connect with the truths page after page.

The book is peppered with one-liners like:

  • “Where there is no vision, the people will leave your parish.”
  • “To reverse decline in a church or similar organization, you sometimes have to recognize the dead horses (ministries inside the church), dismount and find a new mount (a new ministry meeting the needs of the community).”
  • “A person with passion will far outwork an experienced person with no passion every day of the week.”
  • “Do not copy models. Capture principles.”
  • “Without action your vision becomes only a dream.”

Included as practical tools in the appendices is a tool for “Evaluating Ministries,” a tool for “Choosing a Consultant or a Coach” (with definitions of each), and a tool for “Building an Intentional Strategy for Small Open Bible Study Groups” (Flake’s Formula).

The author communicates in a clear and concise manner, always encouraging the reader to go further in being faithful to the calling God has placed on the ministries as well as their leaders. He challenges all readers to have a “vigorous face-to-face summit with reality” (a completely open and honest assessment personally and corporately).

I recommend this book to any who are seeking to move their organization from where they are to where God wants them to be. He has targeted the church with his text, but the truths are applicable to other types of ministries. A great read and a great tool!

Reaching the Summit: Avoiding and Reversing Decline in the Church, by George Yates (Belleville, Ontario, Canada: Essence Publishing, 2012), 144 pages.

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