Review: Good To Grow

This time five years ago, I moved to Catford in south-east London to spend six months on an internship with Steve Tibbert, the leader of King’s Church. I’m so grateful to Steve for investing in me (getting next to nothing in return) as this was a key moment in my life. I grew up considerably as a result of being outside of my comfort zone for the first time in years, and I learnt a lot about church and leadership – some of which I had instinctively thought before but couldn’t articulate because of my inexperience. I continue to lead and think in ways that were shaped by this time, and expect that I always will.

Many of the stories I heard and saw, and the leadership values I watched Steve live by, are now contained in a book, Good To Grow, which describes the fifteen years in which he has led King’s from a dispirited group of 200 to a church that well over a thousand attend every week, and had 2,700 at its carol services this Christmas. It is a remarkable story of a remarkable leader’s co-operation with God.

The complexity of church leadership is highlighted by the large number of issues Steve addresses as the story goes on: everything from the leader’s relationship with God and his family, to building and rebuilding teams, to  financing multi-million pound property deals. It is both daunting and exciting: I really enjoyed reading the story to see what God would do next, and wondering how I would have coped with it!

Co-writer Val Taylor has managed to retain Steve’s personal style: honest, self-deprecating but confident, passionate about God and His purposes. The book is easy to read but is full of big challenges, and hard questions. Steve’s conviction that church growth is hindered primarily by wrong priorities among leaders will be unsettling to many. He repeatedly tries to demonstrate principles rather than prescribe practice, acknowledging the diversity in God’s methods, but his convictions have borne fruit. King’s Church is ‘ahead’ of many churches, experiencing God’s favour in ways that others of us long for; Good To Grow is a great encouragement and tool to help us get there.