The Transformative Ministry of Acclaimed Church Consultant, Lyle Schaller

Lyle E. Schaller, acclaimed church consultant, died March 18 at age 91.
Lyle E. Schaller, acclaimed church consultant, died March 18 at age 91.

In the midst of the urban crisis and social upheaval of the 1960s, an interventionist who is now considered a giant among North American Protestants began to write, speak and consult with local churches and denominations.

From the foundation of urban planning and ministerial training, Lyle E. Schaller focused his ministry on transforming the North American Church. He was an acclaimed church consultant and author or co-author of 94 books. He died March 18 at age 91 in Oklahoma City.

The people his ministry impacted number in the millions. The ministers who called him a mentor or coach are measured in the hundreds of thousands. The congregations impacted are in the tens of thousands. The denominations impacted are likely all of them.

No one in Christian ministry could ignore the power of his words. They may or may not agree, but they could not say no one had told them what was happening.

I began reading Lyle’s books in college in the late 1960s. I began taking training from him in 1978. He was still actively recommending me to churches as recently as three years ago at 88 years of age.

He transformed the North American church

My friend and mentor for almost 40 years transformed the North American church in at least seven ways.

First, he urged the church to talk about the future. He was always pushing congregations and denominations to talk not only about heritage and the tyranny of the present urgencies, but to also to understand the future was coming at them fast and they needed to respond. Urgent issues would often pale in comparison to what was coming.

Second, he brought an urban bias to his writing and speaking. Lyle could easily identify with smaller-membership churches and rural or small-town churches. But what he really focused on were larger urban churches and both the challenges and opportunities they faced. He was part of God’s empowerment of what Peter Drucker called the large pastoral church.

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SOURCE: The Baptist Standard
George Bullard

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