Leading Change in the Church - Lesson 2

Historical and Cultural Perspectives

Dr. Sessoms discusses the shift in the leadership requirements from the industrial age to the post-World War II era, which is characterized by rapid changes, demographic shifts, and technological progress. Rick highlights that the church, like any other organization, needs to keep up with the society's changes to minister effectively. The distinction between managers and leaders is also emphasized, as managers focus on maintaining and monitoring systems, while leadership is about catalyzing change, which begins in the mind. Changing the mind first is crucial for real change to occur. Dr. Sessoms cites the quote of Albert Einstein to underline this point, "You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created the problem."

Rick Sessoms
Leading Change in the Church
Lesson 2
Watching Now
Historical and Cultural Perspectives

Historical and Cultural Perspectives

I. The Industrial Age and the Emphasis on Management

A. Competence in Maintaining and Monitoring Systems

B. Management Concepts: Systems, Theory of Span of Control, Bureaucracy

II. The New Era of Change after World War II

A. Ever-Increasing Rate of Change

B. Restructuring Activities

C. Demographic Changes and Diverse Stakeholder Demands

D. Rapid Technological Progress

E. Need for Strategic Leaders

III. Changes in the Church

A. Infiltration of Change

IV. Leadership and Catalyzing Change

A. Change as a Function of Leadership

B. Changing of the Mind

  • 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
Historical And Cultural Perspectives
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:02] Let me just give a little bit of historical perspective on this. And I was working on this quite a bit, have done some writing on this during the zenith of the industrial age, which was prior to World War II. Organizations needed managers primarily who were competent at maintaining and monitoring systems. The whole industrial age grew up as a result of excellent managers driving assembly lines, if you will, prior to World War II. This emphasis, therefore, was reflected in many, if not most, university programs and research during the early part of the 20th century that focused most of their attention on management solutions to attend the organization's assembly lines management concepts such as systems, Theory of Span of Control of Bureaucracy. And those, by the way, were originally very positive terms, and they still are, at least in my mind, the way they ruled in organizational life. But after the tanks stopped rolling in 1945, a new era was birthed that would have a ripple effect literally around the globe over the next generations. This new era was characterized by an ever-increasing rate of change. And due to escalating competitiveness, two continuous restructuring activities to keep up with it. Regular demographic changes in the population with the influx of new groups and new populations of stakeholder demands that are becoming more and more diverse because of this influx. The rapid technological progress that we're experiencing today, the critical need in organizations more from managers who could maintain and monitor the systems. Two strategic leaders who could challenge and mobilize and motivate people in a rapidly changing cultural climate. And by the way, that was going through constant and perpetual change. As someone said, the only thing that that doesn't change is change itself.

[00:02:14] It's just changing all the time. Within a very short time after that explosion after World War Two, the church began to be affected because, of course, the church is wanting to keep up with society and minister in society. And so those issues of change began to infiltrate the church as well. I think of the church that I was part of right here in Wake County in North Carolina when I was a boy. And comparing that to the church I'm in now is just night and day. And that didn't happen by one change. There's been a series of continuous changes, some of those fun and some others not so fun that that has taken place. So in a word, leadership, as we define it here, is really about this issue of catalyzing change. So that's why I'm saying that change is primarily a function of leadership because it's fundamentally a changing of the mind. And we're going to get into this in just a few moments, both personally and collectively. I want to stop there and ask all the questions, comments about that, because I in no way want or have I want to I want to say three cheers for managers among us, because managers are critical for organizational effectiveness and for the church. I'm simply pointing out here the distinction between the two disciplines. So what do you think? I'm just curious as to what your thoughts are this point. As a manager, I love change. Really? Yeah, I really do. Not just to get more efficient. Yeah. Recognizing that the communities that we serve, whether our family, our neighborhood, our church, our business. Things are changing in our families are our children are growing. Older people are coming and going into our families.

[00:04:12] You're saying that managers can love change as well? Okay. I mean, I was sort of dealing with this sort of just today looking at we have two products to invest in. One is extremely profitable and that we can invest in and grow that area of the business. This new product, and they really can be that and it's not very profitable right now and we've grown the forecasted. It's not very profitable for the rest of the year, but it could be. But the vision is that one day down the road, this thing can take our company from you know, it can be a, you know, ten times the growth because of this one product, you know, will be in 10,000 the and but it's hard to see that especially as the manager of the really profitable product he feels like to get the shaft because he doesn't get the investment attention but he's making all the money. But the thing is that it's going to be in five years and that probably might not even exist anymore in the marketplace. And this other thing is where we're going. And so, you know, we're going to take a step back to take a step forward. And you have to kind of convince people that's the right move to take, even though it doesn't even look good on paper for the next few years. And you have a great point. You have to kind of get people on board with that vision. So it's changing, potentially changing the product offering, but there will be changes to the company or Asia, but it's still the organization is not saying let's change our mission statement, It must change. We're designed to do is changing how we're serving, how we're relating potentially to our customers.

[00:05:56] So that's the reverse of everything. Should I change that, the reference to Malachi? You know, core beliefs are the same. Or we might look drastically different, though. Yeah, I think you've really underlined that that reality that we've talked about and I've already mentioned this and most change efforts, these percentages are reversed and that can become a problem. But it is, as Sam has alluded to, it is an issue that is in the mind. Albert Einstein was quoted. He said, you cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created the problem. I love that statement because we have to we have to be about changing the mind first. If real change is going to happen. And so leadership at its core is about changing of the mind because real change begins in the mind. Einstein His own work, by the way, was a case in point. Einstein himself confessed that after creating the bomb he had, he could not, for a life of himself, figure out a way to keep mankind from blowing ourselves up. So the same consciousness that created the problem cannot solve the problem typically. And that's why leadership is so needed. And George Bernard Shaw, who is certainly not a friend of the church, made a statement. Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything. So it begins in the mind. And even though he was not a friend of the church, his quote sounds almost biblical, where Paul says that be transformed by the renewal of your mind. Change begins in the mind. And so leadership is about changing minds and hearts. God prescribes personal change. We saw that in the verses that we looked at previously. All living systems, all living systems, whether it's people or churches or animals or plants.

[00:08:16] All living things must change in order to grow. Key concept There is a theory in organizational leadership is called the theory of Disequilibrium. Now, that's a big word to simply state that for any living system to change, it must first experience disruption. There's got to be disruption entered into the system, introduced into the system for the the living thing to change in a positive way. Problem is, all living things, including you and me, resist disruption. We have a bias toward equilibrium, not disequilibrium. And so we're going to get into this when we get into talking about change theory and how it impacts the church. The result, though, if we don't have this equilibrium, if we don't have this disruption introduced people and living things tend to calcify. And that's why in the Old Testament, God provided an antidote to calcification for the people of Israel by keeping them constantly on the move. They had to constantly. There was no moss that was growing under their feet. There were seasons of battle. There were seasons of peace. There were seasons of kings, there were seasons of judges and so on and so on and so on and so on. We saw a nomadic people because they were they were always in a process of change. Of course, some Chapter 23 talks that God leads his people into these fresh green pastures. That concept of something new, this constantly and continually new of still waters and then shadowy valleys. There's a constant change of landscape that happens even in our even in our times of being so close to God. In Ecclesiastes, these three gods of what you believe about Ecclesiastes, whether it's a positive statement or a negative statement about life, it is without question, a poetic exposition on the different seasons that we can expect through life's journey.

[00:10:25] They're not all the same. It changes. There are. There are all kinds. So life is about change. And church life is also about change. And what we've said is that change begins in the mind. Let me take one more step and then I'd like to stop just to get some reflections here. Churches are not normal organizations, and thus far we've been talking about a change in organizational context. And there are some real values to that, and we'll get to those. But I want to say in the most certain terms that churches are strange. Entities. They are not normal organizations. They do not fit neatly into our organizational models. And those of you that work in business and those of you that work in this in the secular business world know that the church is a community of believers first and foremost. And more importantly, it is the bride of Jesus. And I believe the church is also the hope of the world. The corporate model for change has some. It has some, I think some deadly flaws. And here they are. And I'll just give them to you. First of all, one secular view of change, that shareholder role, profit is paramount. That's one. I'm just going to go through this real quick. Growth is deified. Thirdly, people are disposable. They are what we refer to as human resources. That sound familiar? Fourth speed is king. And fifth decapitating opponents is part of the game. Let me give you those again. And there's another one. Ethics is expedient. Let me give those to you. Number one, shareholder profit is paramount. Secondly, growth is deified. Thirdly. People are disposable. Fourth speed is king. Number five, decapitating opponents is part of the game. Emphasis on game.

[00:13:04] And six ethics is expedient. So the corporate model of change is simply it doesn't matter if it's right. It only matters if it works. Most secular models are pragmatism in practice. They may sound moralistic, but in fact it's what works. It's what serves the bottom line. So a moral compass is elective at best. In contrast, Christ centered leaders serve a moral God. And our call to make moral choices, even if those moral choices do not seem the most pragmatic. Unfortunately, much of the supposed Christian literature on change management that has influenced the church does not have a well-developed biblical view of change. Often Christian writers are simply baptizing the secular view with some Bible verses and some God language. I think some someone said it in one of our first sessions that we have. We have taken these secular models and made them Christian. I believe it was you, Tammy, that said something like that. And it was just a very, very wise statement. I just know that as that very point seems to be very in the politics, when you start a religion of politics in this or that. Yeah, what's going on now? And somehow capitalism has become equated with Christianity from some thinkers and. And that bottom line and are we free to produce our stuff this way value more than where we get our stuff? How are the people treated on the other end? What's going on? I mean, it's all about the economics. So scary. So I'm not at all suggesting here that everything that comes from the corporate world is evil and is of the devil. That's not my point. I am simply stating that the default mode of running a secular company is not fundamentally biblical at its core, so cannot be applied necessarily in a church setting.

[00:15:19] For example, a biblical guidance of the sort that Paul said when he said When those who are idle encourage the timid, help the weak. Be patient with everyone. Biblical guidance of this sort that Paul wrote, the Thessalonians the Thessalonians church is absolute nonsense to secular change ears. The understood role of feminism in corporate life. If you listen to a Jack Welch, for example, who was a master of change within GE is to get rid of the weak. In fact, every year to get rid of a percentage of the weak within the company, while times of change are difficult and challenging. This does not mean that we suspend the rules of how we are to lead as believers. The shepherds calling the shepherds calling is to lay down his life for the sheep. And ladies and gentlemen, the Bible simply does not give us license in times of change or any time to invert God's order and expect the sheep to lay down their lives for the Shepherd. We never see that in Scripture. And so as we think about change, these issues are very important. Even in changes well-handled, some sheep may be lost in the transition. We all realize that. However, I believe that these losses ought to be avoided if all possible and mourned if they do happen. This is totally different from willingly driving out those who don't like the new direction or, worse still, welcoming the loss of the troublesome sheep. It's really about integrating spiritual life and faith into the change process itself. The call out community that you and I serve belongs to Jesus. It belongs to Jesus. She is betrothed to him. We're preparing the bride. And so she is unique and should be handled with extreme care.

[00:17:30] Well, this is a very important principle going forward because. Just by way of example, a number of years ago when I was well, 18 years ago was the last time I was serving in pastoral ministry as a senior pastor of a church. And at that time it was in vogue that if there was a there was a church that seemed to be staid and stale, it was legitimate to basically wipe out the church, run everybody off that were considered the Ishmaels of the group, and then keep only the Isaacs, you know, the legitimate sons. And this became a dominant model of developing the church. And so there were pastors in many places that were reducing the church literally to the foundations as far as the people were concerned and rebuilding. Unfortunately, many, if not most of those ended up rebuilding something that was as stale and staid as the former or worse. And it was a it was a model that that in the end was not incredibly effective for many. But there were enough there that were successful at that to make it a dominant model during that point in time. My reason for bringing that up is simply that that that our, our churches tend to take on some of the cultural models that seem to be successful and living in the pragmatic culture that we do. It's very easy to slip into some of these things that that sound good and can even use biblical language like Ishmael and Isaacs. But in reality, they are not Christ centered leadership models at all.

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