Leading Change in the Church - Lesson 7

Effects of Change on Churches

In this lesson, the focus is on coping with change in the church. The speaker emphasizes that change is one of the greatest challenges that face church leaders in our day, and that churches are changing at an unprecedented rate. He notes that historically, the church has not had to deal with this rate of change, and that coping with change in the church is a massive issue that needs a lot of attention. The speaker then poses several questions that are important for church leaders to consider, such as how to help the church face 21st-century challenges and what macro challenges require constant and consistent change. One of the challenges mentioned is the movement of American culture to a post-Christian society, which has resulted in a lack of a common value system and a diverse and dynamic culture.


Rick Sessoms
Leading Change in the Church
Lesson 7
Watching Now
Effects of Change on Churches

Lesson: Effects of Change on Churches

I. Introduction

A. Importance of change in the church

B. Lack of guide map for change in the church

C. Coping with change in the church

II. Questions Regarding Change in the Church

A. Facing 21st-century challenges in the church

B. Macro challenges that require constant and consistent change

1. Movement of American culture to a post-Christian society

2. Lack of common value system

3. Diverse and dynamic culture

  • 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 Churches
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:00] So let's talk briefly about effect of change on churches then, which really is the collective of people. Some of the questions that I hear being asked. Because change is one of the greatest challenges that face church leaders in our day. Churches are changing at an unprecedented rate. And historically, we've not had to deal with this rate of change in the church in the history of the church. And so we're in a time that that that we really don't have any any guide map for in many respects. And so this whole issue of coping with change and dealing with change in the church is a massive issue that needs a lot of attention. Here are some of the questions. How do I help the church to face 21st century challenges? And they are enormous. We can spend a lot of time. What what do you sense are some of the challenges, the macro challenges that face your church right now? Let's talk about that. That are probably going to require constant and consistent change. What are some of those things? The. Movement of the American culture to a post-Christian society. Unpack that a little bit. What does that what does that mean? I'd say that previously in this society there was a common value system. It's not a common. Appreciation for Christianity. And the culture has become so diverse and so dynamic in terms of its rapid change of immigrants demographics. But that kind of commonality is disappearing. And people also have less and less tolerance for organizational entities. No, the church has lost its respect in many aspects of the society. And so there's less interest in being a part of a church. There's a lot less respect for it. There's less interest in. Going to scripture for a model for a city that's kind of a non entity for many people nowadays is the relativistic thinking rather than thinking that's based on universal truth.

[00:03:04] So all those changes are very big or huge. They are huge. I was putting together a talk today for another situation and ran across a statement that one in three people in this country have never and will never enter a church ever. And. What that even on Easter or Christmas, what what that communicates is they don't have any reference point. In effect, for the gospel as we understand it, none whatsoever. There's no reference point at all. And so it it begs the question, how is the culture going to be informed by the proclamation of the gospel when the proclamation of gospel happens primarily within the church? So it's it's that's a that's a sea change in terms of in terms of our culture. And those kinds of questions that relate to the post-Christian post-modern context is very, very important as it relates to how are we going to do church. The. The very definition of church is changing is, as you know. So not only are people not interested in the organization, but George Barna has done work to suggest that people are actually redefining what church means. So we also have to redefine what community means. It used to be in the geographic area around our churches where people come from. Now we're blessed to have people from Gibson and Strawn, and there's whether we like it or not, whether it fits into our idea of church or not, there's the virtual church, there's the Facebook church, there's the tweet church and so forth. What are the things that you see challenging church in the 21st century? He said The perception of the church is I mean, what you're saying is a third of the people will actually go into a church to return as the say, and their understanding of what church is is in pop culture or headlines.

[00:05:20] So that's what it means. And increasingly, church people are demonized. I mean, it's considered bad. I mean, it is judgmental. The bad people are the church goers. More continually see characters and in stories and storylines and TV and movies that have that sort of intolerance. Yeah. Close minded. Or are you the child molester that pretends to be a Christian? I mean, that is a you know, that's the religious super religious person or the crazy person is religious or the, you know, that kind of thing. And also related just that that whole lack of understanding I said this, but just the lack of understanding of what the Bible uses and how how it can live and breathe in today's world. And the environment. What she's talking about, the home church would be more appealing to someone. I'm first. And. The old ways of doing church. It's true. It's reading some other statistics lately that were quite surprising that suggested that the United States has become one of the leading receiving. Uh, countries in the world as far as missionaries are concerned. We are now receiving. I believe it's I believe is, if not the top country in the world, one of the top two or three in the world as far as receiving missionaries. And rather than just sending. Fascinating how the shift, the seismic shift of the global center, the epicenter of global Christianity's changed. What that means for the church and our role in the future. Other thoughts. I'm going to say something much more basic. This is probably much more important to him. It well, just communication where we're making references to Facebook and Twitter and email and that's a struggle in the church. How do you communicate? How do you connect with not just one way, but there's so much going on and there's so many things competing for our attention, right? That even.

[00:07:41] Over email or web. There's a professor at the university here who no longer communicates over email. He's abandoned it because he's so into Twitter and really over Facebook that Facebook. I've heard of Facebook. I just forgot what it was. I'm sorry. We know you didn't forget what Facebook is, forgetting what other thinking that you already got gone beyond Facebook. Yeah, I think he tweets mostly as I think that guys. Yeah. So the 21st century challenges are unprecedented. So how do I implement necessary change without hurting others or myself? I think that's a critical question that the church leaders are asking today. And I've heard it so many times, Is it possible to take a congregation through significant change without losing anyone? That's a tough one, isn't it? Yeah. I see some people shaking their heads. No. What? Why that response? Tell me that. Tell me what's behind that response. Those people don't like. I think even if you do it right, you're still going to for the wrong way. Some people are just. Yeah. And I guess it's the reality. Situation is tough and is hard to do. Right. And we are our society has become so much more consumerist. What's in it for me? How is it meeting my needs? There's another place. Yeah. Yeah. It's so easy to change church. I mean, there are other options. And so people go right to the church, so they're frustrated. So it goes around. So can I lead in change when I am personally threatened by it or heard that when? On a number of occasions. So these are questions that we face as church leaders that are very real. But yes, we've talked about being looked out of, you know, from the beginning. I mean, that we're supposed to be people who are pointing to the cross and.

[00:09:49] In. Not to ourselves and not. Pretending that we have it all under control. To me, that that question gives us freedom is. As believers in the sense that we can say, yes, change is scary, but we're not. But we're walking through it for a reason. We want to. All of us need to be more price like is this change is going to do this in some fashion. And this is why, you know, so we're trusting not in ourselves but in God and something bigger. Now, that's very good. We we're fellow travelers in this journey into the land of the unknown. I think it was Scott Peck who talked about change is traveling naked into the land of uncertainty. And I thought that was a pretty profound way of putting it. I think it was something like the the the nature of change is is upon us. We have moved from a society that was originally hunter gatherers to then become agricultural, where the family worked together all in one. And then we became an industrial society when when usually it was the man who went away for the first time, left home, left the farm and went away to the factory to to get the work done. And then we have became a technology society that, by the way, is a pile of old telephones in Germany. So even our technologies are being discarded and becoming obsolete more quickly than we can imagine. The nature of change, the impact of change today is is is overwhelming. Just to give you a couple of couple of statistics, active blogs have increased from 12000 to 12 million in ten years. Reality TV shows have gone from 4 to 320 emails per day is from 12 billion to 247 million outlining online activity per week.

[00:11:53] Each of us were spending 2.7 hours. Now it's 18 hours in books published, interestingly enough, has gone from 280,000 over a million per year. So the book World Is Not Over, folks. The electronic books has actually overtaken hardback are publish print books on Amazon in recent months, but more new information will be generated in the next four years in the history of the world. So that's the kind of world we live in and sifting through this and managing the kind of change that we're going through as a society is this is just overwhelming for leaders. And that's why what we're facing is unprecedented.


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