Leading Change in the Church - Lesson 9

Change Happens When . . .

You will gain knowledge and insight into the characteristics of effective change agents in the church from this lesson. These include humility, patience, sacrifice, self-control, and courage. You will also learn about change management strategies in the church, including understanding and overcoming resistance to change through communication and collaboration, empowerment and ownership, incentives and rewards, and education and training. Finally, the lesson will cover sustaining change through embedding change in culture and systems and continuously monitoring and improving.

Rick Sessoms
Leading Change in the Church
Lesson 9
Watching Now
Change Happens When . . .

I. Characteristics of Effective Change Agents in the Church

A. Humility

B. Patience

C. Sacrifice

D. Self-control

E. Courage

II. Change Management Strategies in the Church

A. Understanding Resistance to Change

B. Overcoming Resistance to Change

1. Communication and Collaboration

2. Empowerment and Ownership

3. Incentives and Rewards

4. Education and Training

C. Sustaining Change

1. Embedding Change in Culture and Systems

2. Continuously Monitoring and Improving

  • 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
Change Happens When . . .
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:00] And so the step now is to ask the question, so what kind of what kind of leadership? Is really important when it comes to change in the church. And as I have observed this issue over the years, observed myself and some of my shortcomings in this, I watched other pastors and leaders over the years and and read about this issue from others. There are basically about three or four things that leaders that are effective at change within the church eventually we find. Number one is that leaders who practice humility. And when I talk about humility, there's a someone in this group. No, it wasn't this group. It is another person that full seminary recommended to me. A book called Humility was recently a great book. Recommend it to you written by Australian named John Dickson. But he describes humility as the as the intentional capacity to reach out to those that you don't have to reach out to and in effect in and and and working and assisting and serving those who cannot necessarily serve you. And so it's a very active role. So it's a practicing of humility. It's a practicing of patience. It's a practicing of sacrifice, of self-control and of courage. Those are the are the the characteristics of effective change agents in the church today from a character point of view. The second thing we look for is churches go through a process of repentance and forgiveness. That is key and that is core to effective change. Um, repentance. There's there's a lot of, lot of definitions for revival. And revival is about disruption and about change however you define it, renewal, the the core components of renewal are repentance and forgiveness. As we are open to what God is doing in our lives, individually and collectively, we find that churches that go through a process of true repentance and forgiveness are the ones that are most effective at change, because change always brings that sense of of of pain.

[00:02:40] And, a lot of the time it requires that kind of humility among both the leaders and the people. And then thirdly. The church employs good organizational development practices, and just as simply is to say that we can have the good character. We can collectively seek repentance and forgiveness. But it sure helps to know some solid, reliable organizational development realities as we go through this process. So what have you seen in churches that are critical for effective change to take place? Maybe you have some additional thoughts. On this. I just think that we have a bond currently in Pastor who is a model. Yes. That you're talking about because he didn't come in and say, okay, with this and that. We'll just resolve these things in the gospel. And somebody point out to me that they say, Oh, look, you don't have this reach to you to connect everything. You got the gospel mission or your gospel community. You've got weekly gospel communities in our program, which I hadn't even noticed, but it was somebody who had been here too long and said, you know, kind of redefining things. And so I'm kind of see, I feel like I am seeing this happen. Currently, whereas some people come in and they just really do want it. They see the need for change, but they want to do it and act on them rather than kind of allowing the things that are present to be redefined and know in a more fuller, more complete way. It's interesting. I was in a church and had left the church for some time and found out later that the new pastor had a real desire to begin a small group ministry. And so he came along and he said, there's going to be no more sunny school.

[00:04:46] We're going to have small groups. There's going to be no, you know, cyanide service. We're going to do small groups and etc., etc., etc.. And somebody brought it to him aside and said, Do you do you understand that sunny school is small groups? And and you know, so it was a it was this redefining issue. And that goes back to creating the meaning and to understand what it is that we're doing. Right. Uh, rather than deconstructing, uh, from the very beginning. And I think communication is probably key and not just changing the products and the practices, but getting to understand the assumptions and what's happening behind it so that you can bring it back and change. That's true because that's what people respond to this most strongly is when you do change those practices, like now for this class, we try to change the time of the class just can't do that. And these people really come to that class for suddenly you're going to try to change those and they need to get all kind of response to that. One thing I'll say at this point, just put it in the hopper to think about resources or flexible processes or not. Resources tend to be flexible. Processes are much less flexible. And so as we're working through change, those are two dynamics that are very important to keep in mind. We'll go we'll go further into that later. But what what is what are some other things that you've seen in the church that really lend to to good, healthy change? Thoughts when you build on history and you don't just discard it, but you build on the history and you build on what the church did well. And does it mean you continued to do what it didn't do well? But you build on its history and you build on what it did.

[00:06:42] So it demonstrated respect for the past. That's a good point. Can I demonstrate a love for the greater good and. And for the gospel. Okay. And that the people are lovely. Yeah. It's not just it's not just an idea. It's about a lot of things out of the box and they know that you really care about. Yeah, well, that's so important. I, I think that's very, very critical what you just said. Others. So to integrate faith and organizational development, as we've been implying here, we we have to make space for grace within within the context of the church. We have to trust God's spirit to transform minds and hearts. That's a that's a critical issue as a shepherd of the flock. And we need a prayer strategy. It's we can talk all we want about organizational development and even organizational transformation and all these great things that that are part of this. But listening to God and responding to his initiatives are critical. Oftentimes, I have been guilty of managing by objective, you know, the MBA model, where you're taught to come out with your vision and then establish your objectives and then start going after those. And by the way, at some point along the line, ask God's blessing upon those. And that's kind of our initiative and asking God to respond. Seems to me when in John chapter five, when Jesus said, I only do what I see my father doing. That was kind of the opposite of that embryo thing. He said, I'm seeing God initiate the Father, initiate my responsibilities to respond to God's initiative. So as leaders, this whole idea of listening to God in a prayerful attitude and and listening to his people in the process is critical to developing that.

[00:08:58] That responding to God's initiative sort of motif within the church. We could spend a whole lot of time on that. But that's that's really important in in this issue of change thoughts, responses to that. You're quiet tonight. We are through a couple of bombs in the middle of the middle of the room in a little bit and see what happens. Make space for grace and time for it, right? Well, we're going to talk then about eight steps for leading effect of change. And these come from a variety of sources. And one of the sources is a US researcher by the name of John Kotter, who's written a lot on own, on change and on effective change in and in general. And so we're we're borrowing some of these ideas, but putting them through the sifter, if you will, of looking at them through a Christ centered lens. And hopefully this will be helpful to you. When we think about change, there are remember the UN, there's the unfreezing phase of change and there will be three of the eight steps it will look at in the unfreezing stage. We'll look at these first. The first is, is is what we call establishing a sense of urgency. And I'm just going to give you these real quick and then come back to them. The second one is what we call God, creating a guiding coalition. Thirdly is identifying the desired future state. Now that's the unfreezing stage. Then we've got the change stage, which are steps four through six. Communicate the desired change. Empower broad based action. Generate short term wins. And then the refreezing stage there to consolidate the gains. An anchor to the new approaches in the culture. So as we work through those, we're going to work through these eight so that we understand them very clearly.

[00:11:27] These are going to really help from an organizational development side of things to. To work. Through the church, for the church to work through change effectively in a healthy way. We'll come back to these Will. We'll spend quite a bit of time. So if you haven't caught them, if you haven't written them all down, well, we'll get there. All right. Let me start by saying as a disclaimer here that there is no straight road. It's not as simple as eight simple steps. And there you have it. Any of us that have worked in the real life of the real church knows that the road ahead is full of landmines and there's peaks and there's valleys and there's difficulties and there's possibilities of stepping in the wrong place at the wrong time. And this is the reality that we face. It's a lot messier than eight steps. And so I don't want to at all suggest to you that when you got these eight steps, you got it made. But these this is sort of a helpful guide, if you will. And I think you're going to see some things come up that hopefully will be some aha moments as we work through this. Okay. So that's just a little, little cute little thing to help us. So the first one establish a sense of urgency. It is important when we're working in change. If you remember to begin with, the unfreezing of the system around freezing of of the church and freezing of the status quo. In fact, there there has to be at some point a palpable dissatisfaction with the way things are. And unless there is a a significant dissatisfaction with the status quo, then it's unlikely that the change has a chance of being successful, of being effective.

[00:13:34] That makes sense. It's just a real simple principle. But again, remember that in churches there's a bias toward not changing. And if there's not a significant dissatisfaction, if there hasn't been established this bias for change, this decided weighted ness toward changing, then the bias will naturally be toward not changing. That's Lewin's theory. Again, that makes sense. Very important principle. Some people think, Well, let's just do change and see how it goes. But the reason for that is because I was just talking with I spoken at church on Sunday and a guy came me. He says, I really want this. How do I how do I seek this? And I said to him, I said, Well, growth requires disruption. How much you're willing to be disrupted. And and I'm not sure how much I can answer that for him, but unless because I said we as human beings and as churches, we we have this natural tendency to perpetuate ourselves, don't we? We have this natural tendency just to accumulate and to add and to protect, provide this buffer around ourselves. And and don't change me because it's going to be painful, it's going to hurt. And so I just stay the way I am. That is natural for us as human beings, and it's natural for the church as well. So if there's going to be any change, there has to be started this sense of urgency that there there's this tangible, palpable sense of dissatisfaction with the way things are. So the question is, how do you do that? How do you go about that? Well, first to say is that it is it's really critical for it to be authentic. If it's not authentic, people will pick up on that pretty quickly. So here's a way to go about this.

[00:15:37] Most of you are probably familiar with SWOT analysis. Anybody hear that? Most of you have probably heard a SWOT analysis. Let me just go through it quickly. There are the SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Now, when we talk about strengths, the strengths are what are we doing well within the church, within the within the system. All right. So we want to look at those things first as a as a positive, as a positive starting point. And then we want to look at our weaknesses. What are we not doing so well? What do we need to improve upon? And that's the starting point. Now, the top of this is about internal. What's going on? Internal to the church, what are our strengths, what are our weaknesses? And as we turn to the bottom part, what are our opportunities? We're looking now outside the church. We're looking at our environment. The question is, is there anything going on that may benefit us from our environment, from our culture, from our society? And that would be a positive sort of question. And then there's also threats. What out there is going on that could may harm us, may threaten our existence. That kind of study is very important and it's critical for the leadership before anything is said about desired state preferred future, before anything is said about these things, it's critical to to do collective intelligence. You know what I mean by collective intelligence? It's this again, it's because of our bounded rationality. As leaders, we depend upon the intelligence of others. And so the process of leadership is to collect intelligence, is to collect the wisdom that there exist within the body to do this kind of SWOT analysis. We can't do it by ourselves, but there can be a process by which we bring the people together to establish this this sense of urgency.

[00:17:51] And out of that sense of urgency, we assume there will become a dissatisfaction If this SWOT analysis does not does not yield any significant dissatisfaction, that the chances of establishing that sense of unfrozen this is low. You follow that now. And so that's why something authentic and and real that we're dealing with the realities is put before us so that we really understand what is the real reason that we should change. Questions about that. And so once we have understood this SWOT analysis, it's important to talk publicly about the findings. Now, again, this happens before. Follow this. Now. This happens before we begin talking about the preferred future state. This sense of dissatisfaction. We can frame it positively. We can frame it negatively. But it's about talking about this. Dissatisfaction needs to be done based upon realities. It may be necessary to pull all kinds of people in. Remember, we talked in the in the in the course on leading a healthy organizational culture that sometimes when we've been inside a culture so long, it's hard to see the culture anymore. And so sometimes it's helpful to bring in outsiders to help you see, particularly as you're looking at opportunities and threats, to bring in those people from outside to help us see what maybe we become blind to seeing. That helps us to identify. I remember one one time when I was pastoring back in New York, I went to this church and after I'd been there about a year, the I noticed when I first walked in the church that when you walked in the lobby area, it was an older church had been built in the fifties, maybe the late forties. And as you walked in the lobby area, it was just incredibly dark.

[00:20:01] There were no windows, it was only artificial light was used. And it was just, you know, dark red carpet on the floor. There were these huge doors that were just massive doors. And and and the other thing is that there was there it felt shut off from the outside. So instead of saying anything to the board, I, I decided one board meeting that we would do a little a little experiment. And I said to the board, let's go up into the into the lobby of the church and let's just walk through the lobby in the sanctuary. And I'd like us not to say anything to anyone, but I'd just like you to take a notepad, and I'd like you to just write down what it is that you see. And so I took them outside and we walked through. And it's amazing. Even though these people had been there for quite a long time, what they saw in that experiment. Totally. Within three weeks, they were renovating the lobby of the church. In fact, they tore down. I didn't say it to them, but. But they tore down these huge, almost sacred big white, huge front doors and put in glass so that people could literally see from the street into the sanctuary. From the street. They they they put in all these bright colors and and light carpet. And it was just an amazing thing. When we when we do these kinds of I mean, there's creative ways that we can do SWOT analysis. But when we begin to look and say, what are our opportunities, what are our threats, what are our strengths, what are our weaknesses, and do those based on reality, those kinds of things can create a dissatisfaction with the way things are.

[00:21:48] And then we talk publicly about those issues.


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