Transforming Church Team Blog
resourcing leaders…reenvisioning the future

My New Book, Chapter One, Part Three

Kevin Ford

Kevin Ford

Threadbare and unable to attract golfers because of the neighboring war zone, East Lake Golf Club was on its last legs and could be had for a reasonable price. Tom Cousins paid the price himself – twenty-five million dollars – and hatched an ingenious plan.

If he could convince one hundred new corporate members to sign up for the club at an entry fee of $200,000 each, Cousins could use the resulting twenty million dollars to begin the rebuilding process in East Lake Meadows. A natural salesman and a deeply convincing man, Cousins did just that. But the climb up the mountain had just begun. Tom Cousins would need all the resources of his vast experience, network of contacts, and sustaining Christian faith to make it to the top.

Cousins faced a task that would have intimidated a lesser leader. He had come to the end of his ability – by himself – to create change. Now, he had to form a series of alliances with individuals and groups who usually viewed their interests and values as in conflict. He had to convince them to cast aside personal agendas, deep-seated distrust, and even personal security to work together to accomplish a seemingly impossible task. The change East Lake Meadows needed was not incremental, but rather transformational. A whole new community was to be created, shaped by people behaving in ways very unusual for them.

First would be the residents themselves. Battered by crime, poverty, disease, and shattered families, the good-hearted residents of East Lake Meadows would have to believe – and act on the belief – that this plan initiated by outsiders would work and would be in their best interests. Most dramatically, they would have to move out of their homes for a time so that the community could be rebuilt, having only Tom Cousins’ word for a guarantee that they would be welcomed back.

Things did not go well initially. A local leader told Eva Davis, the formidable head of the neighborhood association, that Cousins was “sneaky” and would bear watching. Not one to be fooled easily, Eva refused to cooperate until she had reason to trust.

But even if Cousins could convince the residents of East Lake Meadows to go along, he still had to run a gamut. He would have to create a public-private partnership like Atlanta had never seen. Businesses and financial institutions would have to inject large amounts of capital into a never-before-proven idea. Political leaders would have to cooperate with housing and zoning variances and do the thing that politicians are loathe to do – spend political capital.


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