Leading Change in the Church - Lesson 3

Effects of Change on People

In this lesson, the speaker discusses the nature of change and the reasons why it is necessary in the church. The difficulty of change is also addressed, and strategies for overcoming resistance to change are presented. The leader's role in change is explored, along with the process of leading change. The importance of creating a vision for change, communicating the vision, and implementing and sustaining change are highlighted, as well as the need to celebrate success and learn from failure.

Rick Sessoms
Leading Change in the Church
Lesson 3
Watching Now
Effects of Change on People

I. The Nature of Change

A. What is Change?

B. Why is Change Needed?

C. Why is Change So Difficult?

II. Overcoming Resistance to Change

A. Understanding Resistance to Change

B. Strategies for Overcoming Resistance

III. Leading Change in the Church

A. The Leader's Role in Change

B. The Process of Leading Change

C. Creating a Vision for Change

D. Communicating the Vision

E. Implementing and Sustaining Change

F. Celebrating Success and Learning from Failure

  • 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
Effects of Change on People
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:00] So we've talked about the some of the dynamics of change and what the church is about in those contexts. Let's talk about the effects of change on people. Even in the best cases, change has a dramatic effect effect on individuals. Before we talk too much about change strategies and the like, it's essential that we become sensitized to what happens within people when change takes place within them or within their world, within their within their context. So let me just start with this little exercise, and I'd like you to think for a few moments what is the most significant change that you have experienced in the past ten years? And how did you feel when you were going through that change? Can you pull that back in your memory? The most significant change? We all experience a lot of change. I mean, I changed my clothes before I came over here tonight. So there's all kinds of little changes in our lives. But, uh. But significant one. Uh. Either either the most significant change that you've experienced in the past ten years, And how did that impact you? How did you feel about that change? Do you have that cornered in your mind what the change was? So how did you feel about that change? Invite. I'm willing to share. Was it a positive experience? Negative experience? Yeah. Yeah. For me, it was from a self focused thing within the church. Now that's changed. It was an emphasis on things like Bible study, which was basically a meat centric thing from what I got from it to a worship orientation. And that was that affected me a lot in the. More positive. Outlook on everybody's future. So is that something that the church instituted or was that just a personal change that you made yourself or what? I'm sure that there was that that wave, you know, going through, but it may have been going on for a long time.

[00:02:36] Okay. I didn't catch it until But that was a very positive change in you. Okay. Others. You share. And for me, it's just the experience of, you know, leaving home and going to college. That was you know, there were you know, it was a physical move and change and the whole new experiences. And it was, you know, for me, it was a very exciting and enjoyable change. And, you know, new things, new ventures and. It changed me a great deal. It was. Definitely a positive change. Good. What else is there? I think graduating college, getting my first job, getting married and completely being on my own. Big change and parts of it. You know, it's really scary. I mean, we bought our first house and these, you know, bills and all this, you know, aggressive thing, I guess that. I was like, positive too, because, you know, like we were able to. The undercurrent of being an independent. And so definitely a transition process. So they were both negative and are scary parts of it at least, and positive parts. Oftentimes when we're going through it, it's scarier. And you get on the other side of it and say, well, there wasn't much to that, you know, So that's kind of way it works. Matt, what about you? A lot of change in life. And most significant was when my brother in law died probably was 034. That was a change that was certainly unwanted and very difficult to change. Me personally changed our family the way we relate to each other. Looking at it now, eight years later or wherever it is, nine years later, a lot of good things came out of that, a lot of positive came down the road. I started into missions work.

[00:05:00] Long story short, just because of that in many ways, so I can look back and see positives that came from, but certainly would not have wanted to have them come that way. That's just the way it happens. The process of change has impact on us and and probably going through any change has both positive and negative impact is the truth of the matter. Several years ago I was involved with transistor radio in a major change that was going on in our offices in Asia. We went through a major transition in bringing three major regions of the world. At that time there was North East Asia, South East Asia and South Asia, and we brought it into one mega region called Asia. And they I remember traveling with the president and the CEO to to talk about this with the staff and with the many, many people that were gathered there in Singapore. I think that was in 2005 and the great plans were laid out and how wonderful this was going to be. This is exciting. This is necessary. You know, all that stuff that you say during these change initiatives and how important it was and indeed it was important. And my job as I was involved in leadership development, but I was also doing some work with people during with the staff during that time. And my assignment was to process with the staff some of their new roles and so forth. And so I had the opportunity to sit down with staff one by one over a period of days and, and, and just ask the question how what are you thinking? How, how are you processing this? And the one question was, what do you suppose the one question that kept coming up invariably was? How is this change affecting me? See, they weren't really interested in South Asia and Northeast Asia and the millions of people that we could reach and, you know, all that stuff, which and I'm not saying that's not important.

[00:07:23] It is important. But the real question that the people that were most impacted by this change were asking is how does this change affect me and my future? Nobody really loves being on the receiving end of change for change sake. Even leaders like myself who pride ourselves in liking change and enjoying change. All change is not good. And so we we really need to look at this question is, is the change that we're that we're about for for change sake. Some change in the church glorifies God and builds up the church. But as you and I both know, there are also a whole lot of bad ideas. Much of church life involves areas of preference, don't they? And where we always have the option not to move ahead with change. In Proverbs, we read like one like one who seizes a dog by the ears is a passer by who medals in a quarrel, not his own. I love that verse. And so later will to determine how to decide and how to discern whether the change is necessary. But just for now, we want to say that sometimes change is for change sake, and none of us particularly appreciates when that is happening to us. Questions. Thoughts? So let's talk about the impact of change on people from a clinical perspective. What do you and I experience during the process of change, the dynamic of change? I want to throw a little graph on the on the on the page here. Can you see that? And yet, this is not an engineer once saw this graph and said, well, that's not exactly how it works. Quantifiably, that's not the point here. The whole point is that the x the significance how and the greater the significance of the change that you're involved with, the greater the experience of loss that you're going to experience.

[00:09:43] That's just the way that tends to work. For change to take place, something has to be lost. In order for something else to be gained. That's always the case. And so in a very real sense, death precedes resurrection. For all of us in times of change, except a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies. It remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Of course, Jesus said that therefore, when people experience change, even good change. They experience a kind of death to what was before Disruption. Death to what was before. So that we can be reborn to what is to come. And that happens on a physical level. It happens on a psychic level, a psychological level. A mental level on a collective level. One of the things that's always struck me, there's a popular game show and popular reality show, I guess you could call it here in the United States is called Extreme Home Makeover. And my wife and I like to sit down after on it used to come on Sunday nights. I don't know when it comes on now, but we used to like to watch the show and it was always quite emotional watching people get their new homes, you know, and go on vacation. But what always struck me was, uh, these old houses that were often quite poorly built, and they were troublesome and sometimes dilapidated and weren't worth living in. But I always wondered how those children, when they watched these videos, when their house was being demolished by this huge machine, what emotion they must have been going through at that moment, because it's all they ever knew is the only experience of life that they'd ever had. And I just cannot imagine that these children would not have gone through some kind of an emotional experience of watching everything that they had known their whole lives being wiped out in front of their eyes on this video camera.

[00:11:59] And so the point here is that even positive change requires loss. It requires a death to that which was so that we can experience that, which will be that makes sense. And so when we look at the process of change, we really got to look at the process of death and dying. This is the whole point. And oftentimes I think leaders are not sensitive to this. And therefore we rush into change without understanding really what goes on within human beings when this happens as change is necessary, maybe it's important for leaders to be sensitized to this process that people go through. A few weeks ago, I was in India and I was speaking with a CEO who has been experiencing some resistance to change by some of his long time people on staff and this CEO's father. The CEO's a friend of mine and we were just talking and and his father, I knew, had passed away just a couple of months before we were talking, and I asked him to describe the process he went through with his father's death and he began to talk about this cycle of of of experiencing his father's death and what he went through in terms of of going, you know, the changes that took place in his life as a result of that. And and I and I, I wanted to share with him. And I did take that experience now and understand that as these long time staff, people that are on staff with you hear it, that's a lot of what they're going through now as they experience this change that is being initiated within the organization. Doesn't mean it's bad, but it just means this is what they're going through. And it's it's important for us to be sensitized of that.

[00:13:55] So let's talk about the cycle of change. And this is not original. You've probably seen this before, many of you, but there are about five different stages in the cycle of of death and dying as we go through this change. The first is denial in particularly if there's significant change people, their first response is this can't be happening to me, this can't be happening to us. I just don't believe that this is possible. There's refusal, there's shock, there's sometimes shut down, there's numbness and there's self-protection building. And then we tend to go into the step of fear. Once we realize this really is happening, there's not much where I can get away from this. We begin to have all kinds of fears. What will the future look like? How is this going to change me? Is my security going to be in place? Am I still going to have a place of significance? And so on and so forth? We get anxious, we get worried. We feel a bit helpless and out of control, very vulnerable to the to the circumstances we're in. We we feel very uneasy. And then we switch into this anger mode. Fear slips into anger, and we we begin to, too. We may be processing this anger internally. We may be processing it externally, but we get short tempered, we get frustrated, we get restless, we get irritable. Finally, we we we land into this deep, deep valley of sadness. We feel lost. We feel sensitive, we feel isolated. This is what happens to people when they go through this cycle of change in their lives. And then finally we end up in acceptance. Hopefully we end up in acceptance, assuming the change is worthwhile, we're happy, we're excited, we're energetic, we're content again.

[00:15:47] So this cycle of change happens over and over and over to people. But the key point here to remember is that as people are going through change, to recognize that this is really akin to death and dying, and because when whenever change happens, something has to die in order for something else to be reborn. Is that meaningful to you? Does that is that helpful? Just curious what your thoughts are. Questions. I think a statement you made before talking about the cycle is a very good one. The leaders are not sensitive to the impact of change, and oftentimes desperate leaders have been thinking about it in a different way, whether explicitly or just realizing there's something needed to be done. And so when change does start to unfold with others, leaders can be steps ahead emotionally or processing wise. Right. And that can really catch the leaders off guard and leaders can. Unfortunately, they say, come on, this is not that big of a deal. Are you with me? Yeah, that's just change it. That. That changes everything. It's about making it about the leader. And that was oftentimes I with the leader meant to do. Right. But being so far ahead, it's very hard to. Yeah. Very, very important statement it goes back to that question is where speed is king That can become a difficult situation if the decision's already been made. Yeah, that's and some sometimes those decisions are hard to kind of make in a in a public way because there's, you know, but they can be damaging and that sort of thing. And so then you, you then when you announce it, it's already kind of a done deal. And if people are caught off guard. Yeah, Yeah. That and so definitions of that.

[00:17:42] Yeah, for sure. But a simpler model is is a model that was introduced by a guy named Janson. Very simple model. We all begin with this area of comfort. You know, our our lives are are stable. We're experiencing homeostasis. Stacey's everything's cool, everything's calm, everything's comfortable. And then the change happens. And, and we, we, we move quickly into the denial stage, and then we end up in the confusion stage and then finally in the renewal stage. But no sooner are we in the renewal stage, then we're back in the comfort stage and the cycle begins again. That's what life is about.


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