I arrived in my office the other day to find a copy of this book, along with two or three others in the middle of my desk. I immediately picked it out and put in my bag for the following days train journey.
I have known James since he was based in Cardiff. Being both passionate about youth ministry our paths crossed from time to time but perhaps not as often as we would now both would have wanted! Ironically, through the benefits of the digital age and the occasional visit we have developed more of a relationship in the last few years since he moved to Stoke although his last few months in Cardiff we developed a transparency that I cherished.
Back to the book! This was a fascinating read for me partly because I was aware of the stuff that made the move necessary. This is the first great thing about it. James takes no time to settle old scores or dig up the painful past and I am sure that was the right move.
What is clear when you meet James and as you open this book is that he loves Jesus. Everything else pours out of that. His passion is then focussed on his family, his church, his city and basically anything else he spends time doing, whether its watching football, playing golf or eating curry! This Holy Spirit shaped enthusiasm pours from every page. Anyone, other than the most cynical reader, will find this style infectious.
Having served a long apprenticeship, James Galloway approached leading his first church not only with gusto but with a series of what appear to be God-given strategies which he lays bare in this easy read. His chapters on the 7 cultural pillars that define Breathe City Church are worth the purchase price alone. His insight into the spiritual battles that exist in most churches and the role of men in developing real, sustainable growth should be lesson 101 for all newly appointed Senior Pastors. He does not hide from some of the difficulties involved in repurposing a traditional church and you can sense the wounds that have been inflicted on this most resilient of warriors. Personally, I would have appreciated to hear about some of the mistakes he felt he made in the three and half year journey. This might sound a strange request but in the Selwyn Hughes autobiography: My Story, This great man of God shares some of his regrets. This is so helpful for the leader who is at the coal face each and every day to see that you that God will still work with you even when you sometimes blow it!
I picked up the book on the train yesterday. By the time I got back to my house early last night, it was finished. Its a challenging, easy read, dripping with practical advice that I strongly recommend. Thursday morning it was pristine. Thursday night it was dog eared, covered in highlighted sections with more than its fair share of biro in the margins and tough questions scrawled at the end of the chapters. I can pay the book no finer compliment. BOOM!