Leading Change in the Church - Lesson 1

Dynamics of Change

In Dynamics of Change, Dr. Rick Sessoms introduces the course on leading change in the church, emphasizing the importance of mastering the subject in a godly way. The course will cover several topics, including the dynamics of change, the uniqueness of the church in the process of change, the effect of change on people and churches, and key change strategies. Dr. Sessoms uses Bible verses to reflect on the nature of change and its connection to God's initiative, the Christian experience, and the unchanging nature of God. The course aims to sensitize leaders to the effects of change on people, perceive their role as Christian leaders in the process, and bring about effective crisis or change within the church.

Rick Sessoms
Leading Change in the Church
Lesson 1
Watching Now
Dynamics of Change


I. Introduction

A. Emotions Associated with Leading Change

B. Importance of Leading Change in the Church

II. Dynamics of Change

A. What Scripture Says about Change

B. God's Design for His Church and Change

C. Uniqueness of the Church in Change Process

D. Change as a Leadership Role

III. Effect of Change on People

A. Often Overlooked Aspect of Change

B. Sensitizing Leaders to People's Reactions to Change

C. Importance of Understanding the Effect of Change on Churches

IV. Change Strategies

A. Practical Approaches to Leading Change

Class Resources
  • In Dynamics of Change, the speaker discusses the importance of leading change in the church and emphasizes the need to understand the dynamics of change and its effect on people, as well as the uniqueness of the church in this process, before delving into change strategies.
  • Leadership is about catalyzing change as organizations face an ever-increasing rate of change, requiring strategic leaders who can challenge, mobilize, and motivate people in a rapidly changing cultural climate; change is a function of leadership as it involves fundamentally changing the mind, and progress is impossible without change.
  • You will gain knowledge and insight into the nature of change, the reasons why it is needed in the church, strategies for overcoming resistance to change, the leader's role in change, and the process of leading change, including creating and communicating a vision for change, implementing and sustaining change, and celebrating success and learning from failure.
  • You will gain knowledge and insight into the impact of change on individuals through an exercise where you will think about the most significant change you have experienced in the past ten years and how it made you feel. The lesson will sensitize you to the effects of change and explore the dynamics of change and its impact on individuals before discussing change strategies.
  • You will gain insights into the challenges faced by a fictional family company, Johnson's Shoes, based in Boise, Idaho, and the strategies it must employ to overcome these challenges, including diversification of its product line, development of new technology, and introduction of new management techniques, and learn about the positive and negative outcomes of these strategies, and the lessons that can be learned from this case study.
  • Learn how to manage reactions to change in a church setting, understanding the role of the grapevine in communication, and effectively implementing strategies to help others cope, such as consistent messaging, providing details, and supporting healthy behaviors.
  • Gain insights into challenges faced by churches coping with change, including the movement of American culture towards post-Christianity and lack of common values, and explore questions to consider to help churches face 21st-century challenges.
  • This lesson teaches you about the challenges of leading in a chaotic context, the process of change according to Kurt Lewin's theory, and the importance of overcoming resistance. You will understand the limitations of the 20th-century rational change process model and the unique challenges faced by leaders in the 21st century.
  • ou will learn about the characteristics of effective change agents in the church, including humility, patience, sacrifice, self-control, and courage, as well as change management strategies like overcoming resistance to change and sustaining change through embedding change in culture and systems and continuously monitoring and improving.
  • In this lesson, you gain insights on discerning God's purpose in weathering change, learning to ask critical questions to determine if the change is appropriate, and understanding the characteristics of a change that glorifies God, ultimately leading to a stronger church community.
  • You will learn about the various ways that organizations and churches resist change, including through structural and group inertia, power relationships, and resource allocations. You will also understand how people with access to resources tend to resist change, while those without resources are more accepting. The lesson explains how expertise can also play a role in resistance to change, and how churches have natural systems that promote stability.
  • Gain insight into life cycles and resistance to change within organizations, including the church, and how changing leaders can help an organization change the spiral towards decline or irrelevancy by speaking to people's emotions, not just thought.
  • You will learn about creating a guiding coalition to lead the change in the unfreezing stage of change. This involves assembling a group of opinion shapers who can envision the preferred future state and developing them into a team by understanding team skills, defining purpose, roles, and process, and establishing effective leadership and communication.
  • You will learn how to empower broad-based action by removing obstacles to the future and generating short-term wins. This involves identifying structures, policies, and processes that block change, encouraging new ideas and risk-taking, creating a learning environment from failures, aiming for 90% involvement in problem-solving, and providing appropriate authority, resources, information, and accountability. Short-term wins should be planned for, visible improvements should be celebrated, and those involved should be rewarded. Change should be refrozen by consolidating gains, changing policies and structures, promoting and developing people who can implement the vision, reinvigorating the process with new projects, and anchoring new approaches in the church culture.

The dynamics, effects, and strategies for change in the church.

Dr. Rick Sessoms
Leading Change in the Church
Dynamics of Change
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:01] Well, welcome to this third of four courses in this leadership certificate. This. Subject is leading change in the church. I don't know what kind of emotions that title invokes in you. For some people, the term leading change or just change invokes excitement. Invokes eagerness. Uh oh, boy. We're going to experience and change. We get to see a new landscape experience, new things. For others, it invokes an emotion of dread or, Oh, here we go again. And some of that depends on personality. Some of it depends on experience what your personal journey with change has been. I can tell you that my journey with change has been both. It has been both exciting and dreadful, and in some respects I've been the protagonist of both in my life. In other words, I've been the reason for both. And so I want to share with you. And during this course, my own journey with this with this subject, I think this issue of leading change in the church is one of those things that I wish that every person preparing for ministry in the church could master and learn. Because as I travel and work with churches and with church leaders around the world, I find that that our ability to deal with this in a godly way is really impacting either positively or negatively the church in so many parts of the world today. So I'm excited about this subject and I hope to share that excitement with you. And I'm sure that this this course will elicit a lot of response and even emotion within you as you reflect on the change initiatives that you've either participated in or you've led in the past. So. Where we're really dealing with a number of issues in this course by way of overview.

[00:02:27] Let me just start and tell you kind of where we're going with this. We're going to start with looking at some dynamics of change. What does the scripture say about change? What is this thing of change all about? How does this fit within God's design for us and for his church? How is the church different? Oftentimes the church, for better or worse, has adopted secular or business strategies within the church to bring about change. And we're going to talk about the uniqueness of the church in that process. We're going to talk about change as a leadership role and look at look at why that is and why that's important. So we're going to look at the dynamics of change and then we're going to really focus in and give some significant attention to the effect of change on people. One of the things that I have noticed in in all my study of change is that oftentimes this is something that's looked at last night. First, we look at how we're how it affects the organization and how, you know, what we're supposed to do in terms of analyzing the power structures and whether, you know, how many people we're going to lose and all that kind of stuff. But as I have worked with people over the years, as we sensitize leaders to what happens to people when they go through change, it begins to affect how we perceive our role as Christian leaders in this process. So the effect of change on people is very, very important and of course, the effect of change on churches. And we'll look at that in some depth and then we'll go into change strategies once we have a good handle on how this dynamic of change really affects us as people, as God's people.

[00:04:25] Then we're going to look at some key change strategies and hopefully get very practical about bringing about effective crisis or change within the church. So let's begin with looking at some scripture verses and I've got them written out here. So you need to look take your Bibles, but they're right here. The first one is from Isaiah chapter 42, and it says, See, the former things have taken place and new things declare before they spring into being. I announce them to you as the Lord, speaking through the Prophet there. What does what does that verse say to you about change? What does it imply about change to you? Gone to. Okay. God's initiative is implied in that verse. Right. What else? Anything strike you? It's going to happen. So there's something foreordained about this change reality in our experience, right? And God feels the need to announce it in advance. Yeah. So it's going to happen to you folks. Get ready. Right. Then over in the New Testament, one of the most powerful verses that is familiar probably to many of us. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come. What does that say to us about change? Definitely the old is gone and new is coming and we're changing them. I think the philosophy there is it's in Christ. But he's doing the. Through. Through Christ. We are. We are new. Change from the old. And if you're in Christ, you better expect to have something be different. So there's something fundamentally core about this issue of change that's built right into the Christian experience. We cannot get away from this reality of change that is right within the fabric of what it is to follow Jesus.

[00:07:05] It's a powerful thought as we think through that. But here's the flip side from Malachi. Chapter three I, the Lord, do not change. I think that means that he does not change. So how do you put these things together if if we're trying to come up with a picture of this this encounter with God? What is that? What are these three verses put together? What? What do they mean? How do you web that together? What does it say to you? Well, I mean, I think if we had perfect organizations that were 100% built on God, then we would want to change them. But they're not. And we have models that work towards. But we're just like we are. We're not perfect ourselves. And so neither are organizations. And so we can't expect them to say, okay, now this is going to stay the same as God is. He always says the same story, leave our church the same right. And so this work. There's probably some churches that feel like they're pretty close to God. And so that's very seriously. That's part of what why churches resist change sometimes is because everything's about if we change, we're abandoning God, we're abandoning this, this, this reality that that God is in our lives. And so that that gets a little mixed up at times, I think. What else does this do, these three verses as they are woven together? How do they strike you? What is it saying to the Lord is the author and change in our lives if we give that over to him, that he already knew from the beginning. He said he's not taken off guard by the changes that he causes in our lives. He's the author and the finisher not to panic because life changes get to know more and more.

[00:09:04] And he's the one in charge of this team. Yeah, I love that idea because it seems that these verses are saying to me that here's God is the pivot point. Does not change. And as we move in our lives, as we change, we have that. We have that anchor. We have this this terms of definition. We have a reference point, if you will, that that doesn't shift on us. And that's reassuring as believers. But with that life and the walk of faith, the journey with Christ is all about change. Whether we look at the experience of the Israelites or we look in the New Testament at the life of believers. There is no such thing as static faith. It's all about becoming and ever becoming these new creations. What do you think about that? Reflections. God is the agent of change. And. Well, he brings it about and we're sort of the he's the power play I think of. The first that talks about the king's heart. It's like the rivers of water before changes into flow. However you would. It's good thought. Well, it's brings me a lot of hope that, you know, one day I will, you know, be like, yeah, that's our future. And that's what I hope is in there. Now we do see that darkly and like somebody said the other day, I've been me a long time know. Yeah, I think I'm pretty good but I know I'm not you know there's a lot that the Lord needs to change. Yeah, that's what we want to happen. The change is very hard and as we experience change, that can be a difficult journey in the middle of it. That is so true.

[00:11:19] I work with a colleague who's an athletic person and she was a professional golfer and it was pretty good. She tells a story that she was looking to become with her profession. She got some coaching and she needed to abandon her swim shoes. And she said that was the hardest view of her life. And afterwards, she could see that the impact that it had with the difficulty in stopping what she had done so well for 20 some years and then start all the way. That's the painful. Yeah, I've heard that. It's just these professional golfers that do that is so amazing to. It's an enormous discipline. It must require, you know, I don't know about you, but I've always prided myself as being a person who likes change as long as I'm initiating it. But if someone is initiating it for me, I'm a very different view of it. And oftentimes, at least that's I'm just trying to be honest with you and open. But I've been on the serving side of change and sometimes it takes this re sensitizing to recognize what it is to be on the receiving end of it. Well, as we look at this issue of change then. I believe that producing change is 80% about leadership. And when I talk about leadership, it's really about establishing direction. It's about motivating. It's about aligning and inspiring people. And it's 20% management producing change, which is planning, budgeting, organizing, problem solving, you know. Much, much has been written about the differences between management and leadership. Maybe we could just stop a moment and let me let me just ask you there. There is no necessarily right or wrong answer about this, but as you think about those two disciplines, management and leadership, what is the distinction in your mind between those two terms? Thoughts.

[00:13:37] So managers is going to be more and more focused operationally. And so I think that they might be more like machine operator as opposed to the overall sort of tender of the of the people. And they're like, you could use that Gardner Versus machine operator in a negative way versus functionally managers. Okay. So when you think of management, you think of operations a motif. Okay. Others. What do you think of. I am much more a manager than a leader. So confessing I'm not a manager. And I think in our culture today we do too much of putting a divide between the two and we've got the coaches or the quarterbacks, we've got the team managers that are cleaning up quietly, and I don't see it that I think they're much more integrated. And I think that. We have different colleagues with different roles in different strengths, but I don't see it as I'm looking forward to discussion on the 80%, 20%. I don't think that you've got to have good who are calling management, not necessarily budgeting, but problem solving early on. If we spend too much time brainstorming and have a lot of we've talked about this and some of the personalities and management styles of recent studies. But I think that management has a has a key role. It's not just tactical. I mean, we talk about problem solving. That to me can be visionary, but it to the challenge we're addressing in the community or the in the culture. What are we trying to solve? And that can also produce leadership that requires management and work. Leadership, I think, is very integrated now. Well, I think that's well stated. And I and I hope and I encourage you to, as is the manager among us.

[00:15:31] There may be others as well. I encourage you to represent that well throughout this conversation, because there will be definitely places in which that management function is critical to about to this process of change in the church. So a lot has been written about this issue, and quite frankly, I agree with Brant that oftentimes in recent past I like to say that management is that discipline that leaders have like to kick off the back porch. They just kind of treat them with the back of their hand. And I think that's fortunate because there are there is an integration of these. Just by way of by way of argument. Both are critical within organizations and furthermore, the disciplines of leadership and management do indeed overlap. And I would say one other thing. In many organizations, if not most management and leadership functions are often performed by the same people. That's very real. But I believe there are some distinct differences. Even though there's overlap, there are some differences. While the management role tends to focus on maintaining and improving systems to ensure organizational stability, the emphasis is on organizational stability. In the present tense, leaders ensure the future of the organization. By being the catalyst for change. That's a very, very important difference between the two, at least as I frame up the issue of leadership. So if we could think of it this way is that leadership is primarily about change. And management is primarily about stability. Now, obviously, you need both within an organization and we're going to find that even in change initiatives, management functions are important. I'm interested in your feedback on that. Let me just say a couple of other words to set the stage. Unfortunately, in many, many organizations, even though I have stated that producing changes is 80% leadership, 20% management.

[00:17:58] Oftentimes what's happening is that in many of those organizations, those roles are flipped. The people that are responsible for are supposed to be responsible for change or actually have lead gifts in the area of management, and particularly in maturing organizations. That can be difficult because the focus is on operations and processes rather than bringing about the kind of focus on the future that's so necessary for the church, for the church and the organization to find its way into the future.

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