Leading Change in the Church - Lesson 10

Change That Glorifies God

In this lesson, you will learn about discerning God's purpose in weathering change within a religious context. You will explore the importance of asking critical questions to determine the appropriateness of change, such as whether the change or resistance to change is an idol, whether your heart is running the show, and if the cost has been adequately considered. The lesson also discusses the characteristics of a change that glorifies God, including strengthening the church's witness, drawing greater attention to the gospel and the cross, being attractive to unbelieving onlookers, and leading to greater unity within the church community.

Rick Sessoms
Leading Change in the Church
Lesson 10
Watching Now
Change That Glorifies God

Lesson: Change That Glorifies God

I. Introduction to Weathering Change

A. Wrestling with the appropriateness of change

B. Discerning if the change is of the Lord

II. Questions to Ask

A. Is this change an idol?

B. Is resistance to this change an idol?

C. Is my heart running the show?

D. Have we really counted the cost?

III. Characteristics of a Change that Glorifies God

A. Strengthens the church's witness

B. Draws greater attention to the gospel and the cross

C. Attractive to unbelieving onlookers

D. Leads to greater unity

  • 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 That Glorifies God
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:01] So we want to start with the weather with a good SWOT analysis, too, and that may take some significant time. But one of the questions that we wrestle with is how do we know if this change that we're looking at is really appropriate? There has to be. One of the questions as a sheep is as a shepherd of the flock. How do we know if this if this change is really of the Lord? Well, there's a couple of questions that that I'm that I struggle with and and that I've learned to ask myself in this process. The one first question is, is this change an idol? Has it become an idol to me or to a small group of people? Or to flip the question around, is resistance to this change in Idol? The truth is, whichever way I lean on that question for or against. I have learned that my heart is what I would call an idle factory. It's it's a reality. And once we as leaders come to grips with the fact that my heart is a is a is a cavern for these desires that tend to escalate into a demand. And as a leader, I have to constantly guard that it is it goes from something that I want to have to something that I have to have. And when I have a position of authority and particularly have those words that everybody bows to, the Lord has said. The Lord has told me, Boy, that becomes something that's irresistible. As pastoral leaders, we can crave anything from an orphanage in the Philippines to a hip rocks worship service. And while not inherently wrong in and of themselves, they may not be God's plan for the church at this time in this season.

[00:02:10] And so that whole issue of guarding my heart is this change in Idol or is resistance to this change in Idol? Is it needs to be constantly ask you know in first Samuel chapter eight Israel ask for a king. Idols become idols when we want them so much that we're willing to move heaven and earth to make them happen. And sometimes against God's purposes, to pursue them. So how do we discern God's purpose? And this Segways into the second question? Is my heart running the show? Now, there's an there's a need for a careful examination and what we mean by that. Godly counsel input is very critical at this stage. I have found that when, when, when, when I want to determine underlying heart issues, I need to surround myself with people who will tell me the truth. And that is that is a discipline that that is sometimes difficult for religious leaders because oftentimes people put religious leaders on a pedestal. We tend to see them as our alter ego. And why in the world would I possibly have anything to say to a religious They're a spiritual leader because they're in tune with God way more than I am, you know, kind of thing. That's why it's the initiative from that leader is so important to get that kind of input to to ask the question, is my heart running the show? We've often been talked, talked to seek God and then stand before the people and announce his message. That's kind of an Old Testament motif. You know, Moses goes to the mountain, gets the tablets, comes down, said, Here they are, folks. That's kind of the way it worked in the Old Testament. Conversely, Pentecost taught us that there's after Pentecost particularly, there's much more emphasis on the priesthood of believers.

[00:04:06] There's there's much more emphasis at that point on the collective body of Christ and the collective wisdom. And that's why I'm using that concept of collective intelligence. And particularly as we look at the church. So keep this in mind, is my heart running the show? One of the questions that that you can ask, if that if that's really the question, is how would I respond to barriers related to this change? And that was if somebody throws up a wrench in the machine, you know, I've got this idea, we need to change this, and somebody comes along with a real barrier. What is my response to that? Another question has Has the truth what has been produced as a result of this SWOT analysis? Has that truth ever been stretched even for a moment in arguing for or against the change that that the leadership is advocating? And if it has, then then it gets back to the question. You know, there may be something going on. There's not actually as as clean as it should be. A simple question Am I willing to sin to go forward with this change? Am I willing to be deceptive in any way to make this change happen? The third is have we really counted the cost? Luke 14 Of course the context is discipleship, but the principle is obvious. A wise man woman counts the cost before entering the battle or beginning to build a building. Military history teaches us that some hills are just not worth fighting for. I've had folks from Vietnam tell me that in in no uncertain terms, the history of the church growth moment would suggest to us that many churches were leveled to their foundations in terms of the people and rebuilt to become significantly less effective than they were when they started.

[00:06:08] We've seen that over and over and over again, because ultimately the question is, are what are we doing, what we're doing for the purpose of glorifying God? Of course, First Corinthians chapter ten, verse 31 leads us to ask the question. I want to give you four quick things. And I don't have this a PowerPoint to say these, but a change that glorifies God, in my opinion, has four general characteristics and they need to be considered together rather than separately. But I'll just share these with you. Number one, it strengthens the church's witness. It strengthens the church's witness. Secondly, it draws greater attention to the gospel. And more specifically to the cross. And that's a loaded statement. It draws greater attention to the gospel. And more particularly to the cross. Thirdly, generally it's attractive to unbelieving onlookers. It's attractive to unbelieving onlookers. Doesn't mean that it's it's. You know. It is delicious, but it's attractive. Is respected in Fort Lee, it leads to greater unity. Relationships end up strong. And stronger than even at the outset. Now, again, those cannot be taken separately, but taken together, they create a scenario for beginning to analyze whether this is really something that that is glorifying to God. What do you think about that list? Reflect reflections. Number four strikes me as being different from the other three in the fact that I see how they can go together. But as I'm looking at a change in those who are resistant to change, we can say, yeah, but if we do this, we're going to be strengthening our church's witness. We're drawing more attention to what we're all about. It's going to be an attractive nonbelievers, but then it also ultimately it's a greater unity. But there is that unfreezing that takes place that is uncomfortable, that people and helps them to get over that.

[00:08:52] It just seems that this is complementary as opposed to feels like a tension. But it does it feels like the 2 to 2 and three or a challenge. You can say we're going to focus on this and if unbelievers are not moved by it and that's between them and God, we go the other way. It's never going to be so attractive. We'll find more subtle ways to share the message to for us to experience the message that that's a very difficult tension for today's church. So what you're feeling is that these four statements are in tension with one another in many respects. I do this, that when someone wants to know what is the is the Holy Spirit working? What is the role of the Holy Spirit? Some of these things are seemingly and I cannot ask the role of the Holy Spirit. In other words, Holy Spirit speaks to us and leads us to Christ. The Holy Spirit strengthens our witness. So those are signs that it's from voice. Some of these things as they seem to parallel. So some of the work that we can't control is what you're saying is the work of the Holy Spirit is here is inherent within these. And we cannot always control all of. Is that what you're saying? That's not what you said. I'm just coming in. Seems to me that the work of Holy Spirit parallels this kind of secret. I'm a little bit on two and three again. Either that or the idea that the gospel is. The cross is so. It's just that the idea that being attractive doesn't necessarily mean it's to everybody, and it certainly doesn't mean it's voted for by the majority. How that sits out. Again, this is very confusing.

[00:10:54] Yeah. This is an adult conversation, isn't it? This isn't a two dimensional look at change. It's a three dimensional or maybe four dimensional look at change that requires. This is why it's difficult, but it requires us to maintain this kind of tension, because in my opinion, these are kingdom priorities. These are biblical priorities that, uh, that are addressed here in this list of four. Rethink. Brant. I think that what many churches are trying to do is, in their hearts attractive to the unbelieving onlookers. I think it's fitting we try to make it more specific, whether it's our teaching topics or our music or our ministry or our programing. The more specifics I'm interested in, that's when it becomes more difficult, where it becomes more programmatic. And then I feel like we do need to call it Sunday School or we do call it small groups, which are the motivation is healthy. How do we attract people to that? There's a positive. There are challenges when we get caught up in the church trying to hammer some things out, we lose sight of it. As you were saying in your example earlier, and then down the road we say yes to God, I trust apostles. Yeah. I mean, I think, you know. If we don't trust that, you know, Jesus is attractive to unbelievers like on his own. And we sort of like, well, we have to have like a flashy program or instead of the other than that's a that should be sort of a red flag on. You know, particular changes. I mean, yeah, you don't want to be. I guess that's why, you know, Campus Crusade for Christ changed their name, the crew, which is because there's a lot of bad connotations with, you know, the Crusades.

[00:12:56] And that's an understandable change, you know, to make them more attractive to, you know, nonbelievers. And so but, you know, you don't you got to be careful not to just, you know, do all these, you know, changes that are, you know, to the core of what Campus Crusade is in order to. Yeah. It's make them sort of more lukewarm or something like that. Would it be fair to say that that many churches tend to run with one of these? When they look at change initiatives. I'm not singling out any net necessarily any one. But it would be easier to choose one, wouldn't it? Yeah. Yeah. But I know churches that that look at say unity is our thing. We are just committed to unity and. And so anything that motivates us, that's the highest, highest issue. So we're going after that one. And there's nothing wrong with that. That's just saying compromising some of the others. I think the vouchers will choose not to change in order to maintain unity or like the facade of unity or whatever. Interesting. So these this is as I said, it's a grown up conversation and it's a challenge to maintain the tension. There it is.


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