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Everyone Leads: How to Revitalize the Catholic Church  by Chris Lowney

Published by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (April 4, 2017)

The Catholic Church is suffering its worst decline in five centuries—a precipitous slide that will turn catastrophic unless reversed by fundamental changes in strategy, culture, and leadership style. Even the inspiring leadership of Pope Francis will not reverse the slide without a strategy for action, from the grassroots through the hierarchy. Bestselling author Chris Lowney, a former Jesuit seminarian and business executive who now chairs one of the world’s largest Catholic ministries, not only outlines the challenges but also maps the path forward in Everyone Leads.

After a bracing review of the church’s global struggles—from clergy shortages to declining participation—Lowney draws on two decades of change-management experience to propose an “EASTeR” strategy of five transformational principles: be entrepreneurial, be accountable, serve, transform, and reach out. These five ideas can catalyze profound change in every parish, in how bishops think, and in the roles laypeople play in leading the church. Filled with real-life examples, Everyone Leads outlines strategies that anyone can employ—from the pews to the pulpit—to strengthen the church.

As a former business executive who lectures globally about leadership, Lowney speaks credibly about the institution’s challenges and potential. And, as chair of one of Catholicism’s largest hospital systems, he writes “from within” as a Catholic who loves his church and is committed to seeing it flourish.

Lowney, a onetime Jesuit seminarian and former managing director of J.P. Morgan & Co., shares his personal sorrow over the ever-declining ranks of the Catholic Church. Citing priests’ abuse of children as an ongoing indictment against the church, Lowney challenges Catholics to turn back to Jesus and make him their model. Lowney discusses strategy with a dose of inspiration as he shares story after story of little-known men and women who walked in Jesus’s steps by loving 'the least' in society, with remarkable results. The author believes Catholics can revitalize the church through an EASTeR strategy: be Entrepreneurial; be Accountable; Serve the poor/marginalized; Transform worshippers’ hearts and souls; Reach out beyond church doors. Lowney is convinced that he (along with everyone else) needs accountability in order to thrive in this century, and he says that measures must be set in place to assess whether the Catholic Church is successfully executing the Lord’s mission. Catholic readers will appreciate Lowney’s readable yet challenging text on overhauling the way the church presently does business. (Publishers Weekly)

Few people today are as well qualified to write on leadership in the Catholic Church as Chris Lowney, who combines his deep understanding of Christian spirituality with real-life leadership experience. In his insightful new book, he offers data, stories, reflections, and best of all, practical plans to help Catholics breathe new life into the church they love. (James Martin, SJ, author of The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything and Jesus: A Pilgrimage)

Chris Lowney's message is simple but searing. Each of us, as Catholics, must lead. There can be no backbenchers. Everyone is in the front pew. To evangelize. To advance an irresistible culture of good. This requires creative, devoted, Christ-like commitment from each of us. We provide the bodies. Lowney has provided the blueprint. (Frank Keating, former governor of Oklahoma)

St. Paul said that by baptism, "all are given to drink of the same Spirit." However, the Catholic community is still learning how to engage the gifts of all its people as potential leaders in the mission of the church to the world. Combining a rich background in leadership with his own deep Catholic faith, Chris Lowney offers a clarion call and a way forward to create faith communities where "everyone leads." This will be an invaluable contribution to forging a church for the twenty-first century. (Thomas Groome, Boston College; director of The Church in the 21st Century Center)

Chris Lowney has applied his extensive business background and made an important contribution to the ongoing discussions about the future of the Catholic church, not just in the US, but worldwide. He not only accurately describes the current crisis that the church faces, but his EASTeR solution is both workable and consistent with church teachings and values. But this book goes beyond merely presenting solutions; it also discusses the nitty-gritty of implementing them. Anyone looking for practical approaches to resolving the church’s ills would do well to begin with this book. (Charles Zech, Center for Church Management and Business Ethics, Villanova University)

With profound urgency grounded in his great love for the Catholic faith, Lowney offers a compelling call to all Catholics, lay and clergy alike, to revitalize our parishes with creativity and accountability. His honesty paints an unvarnished picture of the crisis we face and his managerial experience provides an actionable contour of a journey of joyful spiritual re-engagement. It is a must-read for us, the Body of Christ, as we act to rebuild and nourish our collective communities of faith not only for us, but for those who follow us. (Carolyn Woo, former president and CEO, Catholic Relief Services)

Chris Lowney has combined his incredible love of the Church with his demonstrated management competence to help the entire Church not bemoan our challenges but combine our gifts with God's grace and be about building the kingdom. With integrity he names the problems and the opportunities and responsibilities each of us has to rediscover and reveal the splendor of our Church. The urgency of this is well described but so is the joy this journey can be. (Carol Keehan, president and CEO, Catholic Health Association)

Chris Lowney demonstrates the profound need for each of us to think differently about our role in the Catholic Church. If we want to renew the Church we love, we need a fresh approach. Drawing on stories ranging from corporate America to Nairobi (and many places in between), Lowney presents his practical, faith-filled vision of a “new culture of leadership.” His strategies offer a promising new roadmap that will help individuals and ministries together forge a future in which “everyone leads.” (Michael Galligan-Stierle, president, Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities)

In Everyone Leads, Chris Lowney provides an excellent diagnosis of the complex challenges facing the Catholic Church in the United States and globally. More importantly, he shares a holistic strategy that every baptized Catholic can act on today to help the Church flourish, grow, and lead more people to Jesus. This book is a wonderful response to Pope Francis’s invitation to all Catholics to be “bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods” of outreach by the Church. (Timothy C. Flanagan, founder and chair, Catholic Leadership Institute)

With great respect for both Catholic beliefs and the hierarchy, Chris Lowney—a management expert and deeply committed Catholic—challenges clergy and laity to enliven the Church by living with the dedication Jesus expects of His disciples. This book is especially fresh because Lowney uses the language of leadership theory, not theology, to help his readers reinvigorate the institutional Church. (Michael Sheeran, SJ, president, Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities)

Chris Lowney brings to the Church a message he has already brought to business: everyone is a leader. Tapping into one of Pope Francis’s core themes, Lowney writes that the top-down leadership model does not serve the contemporary Church well on any level and certainly does not support its focus on missionary discipleship. Lowney urgently calls for a transformation in which every parish becomes a center of missionary activity and every layperson, in collaboration with pastors and bishops, becomes an initiator and a minister of the healing touch of Jesus Christ. (Sister Theresa Rickard, OP, president, RENEW International)

Everyone Leads is a profoundly inspiring gift to every person who recognizes the potential of the Catholic Church and the urgency to bring that potential to fruition. Chris Lowney elegantly blends analysis and spiritual reflection and delivers a blueprint for achieving a culture of accountability and entrepreneurial acumen in the Church. An invitation to co-responsibility for the Church’s life and being, this is a prophetic contribution of great consequence. (Kerry Alys Robinson, founding executive director and global ambassador, Leadership Roundtable)

Chris Lowney is chair of one of America’s largest hospital systems, Catholic Health Initiatives. A one-time Jesuit seminarian and a former managing director of JP Morgan, he is the author of several books including Pope Francis: Why He Leads the Way He Leads and the bestselling Heroic Leadership: Best Practices from a 450-Year Old Company That Changed the World.

*****,his is one of my favorite books, and the reader does a very good job, good pace, and changes voices/tones for each character very well.
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