ECPA's Rush To Press

Author Lyle Schaller Dead at 91

Brenda Smotherman
Associate Publicity Manager
Abingdon Press
P: 615-749-6290

 (Nashville, TN) – Abingdon Press is saddened to share that respected author Lyle E. Schaller, widely considered by pastors as the most important and influential observer of church culture during the twentieth century in the United States, died March 18, 2015 at the age of 91. 

Schaller’s first book, A Plan For Protestantism in Urban America, was published by Abingdon Press in 1964 and probed the crisis facing urban churches. Between 1964 and 2005 he published 55 books—all with Abingdon Press and about helping church leaders adapt to change, edited 41 more titles in series such as the Creative Leadership Series, and produced thousands of essays in periodicals, such as Christianity Today, Leadership Journal, The Lutheran Standard, The Episcopalian, Gospel Herald, Circuit Rider, Christian Century, and Presbyterian Survey. His monthly periodical, The Parish Paper, had a circulation over 200,000 in 28 denominations. At least three of his books exceeded 100,000 units in sales: Getting Things DoneAssimilating New Members, and The Change Agent, which was also widely read in medical and nursing schools. 

Early career highlights include his invention of the independent church consultant role, and being the first to base consultations with congregations and denominations on the use of demographic, geographic, and each congregation’s internal data. In the 1990s, Schaller topped a Los Angeles Times poll for having the most influence on ministries and organizations as determined by pastors and other church leaders nationwide.

“Lyle Schaller worked with a gentle spirit and strong dedication to make the Gospel of Jesus Christ life changing for many. He believed in the potential of congregations large and small to make a big difference in the world,” said Neil M Alexander, president and publisher of Abingdon Press. “Lyle had a way of getting and keeping our attention with his uncanny ability to make stunningly accurate analyses of denominational trends as well as the current strengths and future potential of the hundreds of individual congregations he studied and advised.” 

The breadth of Schaller’s influence spanned most US denominations and theological traditions, with particular impact among United Methodist congregations. Published works of Lyle Schaller are still in print and available digitally. Wisdom from Lyle E. Schaller: Elder Statesman of Church Leadership compiled by Warren Bird, a survey book about his work, is also available. 

Abingdon Press is the publishing imprint for The United Methodist Publishing House and has a tradition of crossing denominational boundaries with thought-provoking and enjoyable books. It has a commitment to providing the best, most effective religious publications available which include a wide array of quality Christian living, fiction, devotional, academic, professional, and reference titles published each year to enrich church communities across the globe.  Visit them online at