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Leading Change in the Church - Lesson 12

Life Cycles

This lesson discusses life cycles and resistance to change within organizations, including the church. It talks about the propensity of organizations to perpetuate themselves and how this leads to resistance when change is needed. The document also mentions how organizations can identify their life cycle by the type of leader they choose. It explains that changing leaders can help an organization change the spiral towards decline or irrelevancy. The document further explains that negative motivation and fear-based motivation do not tend to work. Instead, a positive and inspirational approach is effective. Establishing a sense of urgency is crucial in helping people dream of a preferred future. This involves speaking to people's emotions to effect change.

Rick Sessoms
Leading Change in the Church
Lesson 12
Watching Now
Life Cycles

Lesson: Lifecycles

I. Life Cycles

A. Specialist in Life Cycles

B. Resistance to Change

C. Organization's Propensity to Perpetuate Itself

D. Identifying Life Cycle by Kind of Leader Chosen

1. Entrepreneur for Infant Stage

2. Aggressive for Adolescence and Prime Stage

3. Administrator for Decline

II. Change Initiative

A. Changing Leaders to Change the Spiral

III. Negative Motivation

A. Change or Die Message Does Not Work

B. Fear-based Motivation Does Not Work

C. Positive and Inspirational Approach is Effective

IV. Establishing a Sense of Urgency

A. Dreaming of a Preferred Future

B. Investing in Reinventing to Keep Up with the Future

C. Speaking to People's Emotions to Effect Change


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  • 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
mc612-12
Life Cycles
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:00] There's another thing to consider when you're looking at urgency, and that is life cycles. There's a there's a specialist that has worked on life cycles. His name is Each of these days. And. He basically says that when change is needed within any organization, including the church, that's when organizations are most resistant to the change. Because by that time they're expanding their primary energy own sustaining the organization. Rather than pursuing the core competencies that brought it into and into being. In other words, the mission. Remember we said in the first course that every organization, whether it's a church or a business or whatever, has one thing in common that is the propensity to perpetuate itself. And the further an organization is up this direction and starts going down, the more energy it's spending on perpetuating itself. Now, by the time it gets to this point of stable and then aristocracy, early bureaucracy and so forth, the time which it needs change the most desperately is the time when it's going to resist the change most ardently. Now, one of India's greatest contributions to the field is the idea that churches can identify where they are in the life cycle. Fathers. Now they can identify where they are in the life cycle by the kind of leaders they tend to choose. That's fascinating. Do you hear that? In other words, they can tell where they are in the life cycle by the kind of leader they tend to choose. What does that mean? It simply means that when they're when they're at this infant stage, the organization will tend to choose an entrepreneur type. When they're in this adolescence and prime stage, they will tend to to to choose an aggressive leader. As they start to two to go here and then they start decline when the focus is on the propensity of the organizations rather than so much the mission.

[00:02:16] What kind of a leader would they tend to choose? You tell me. Manager. And as they get down further, they tend to choose administrator. And and so forth. So you can actually look and say you can predict. And so it goes both ways. You can predict the kind of later that that that a church will tend to choose based upon where they are in the lifecycle. The trick is the only way for one of the only ways for an organization to change this spiral toward this this decline toward death, in effect or toward total irrelevancy is to choose a different kind of leader, to choose a leader that is unnatural for where they are in the life cycle. And that itself is a massive change initiative that makes sense. As the voucher had gone through over the last five years or whatever. Is that really reinvention? Yeah, I think it is definitely on the decline for a while. So what was the upshot of it? What happened? We got a new leader, I think. I think that was there was a leadership transition that took place. Now, having talked about this sort of it's sort of bad news, what I just shared with you, it's it's kind of depressing, isn't it? In one sense, I want to share with you now, however, a an article that is not from a Christian organization but is from Fast Company that I won't ask you to read now, but you can take in and read this later. But basically it is a article that that came out of a medical school and it was the study of heart patients. And these heart patients underwent heart procedures and were told that if they wanted to live, they didn't want to die.

[00:04:28] They needed to change their life behavior. They needed to change their way of living. And what they found is if you look at people after coronary artery bypass grafting, after two years, 90% of them have not changed their lifestyle. So the counterintuitive message of this article is change or die message generally does not work. In other words, negative motivation. Does not tend to change people's behavior or their sense of the need to change. It's a fear. Fear based fear based motivation does not tend to work, at least according to this reason, according to this research. And I, I think that this would reason I've use this as simply an example. But others would say this is very true in the change management world to convince people that the alternative future is something worth right, is a is a positive, inspirational approach that is going to tend to raise people to a new perspective on a preferred future that's going to move people toward change. So that's what when we talk about establishing a sense of urgency, we can tend to hear that that's we got to tell you, you're going to change, you're going to die kind of thing. When we talk about all this life cycle stuff and we talk about the reality is most people will not change if all they hear is a negative message change or die. Using that from a biblical perspective, if I say to you, either you accept Christ or you're lost, that's a negative, right? That's a name for self. And so what does that tell us? Well, extrapolating from this is probably not going to work. I'm not going to go there. But but I think the point is taken further. If there's no motivation for you changing, you're not going to change because it's not something better than what you already have.

[00:06:41] And research and work with those who are alcoholics shows that the fear or the negative stuff doesn't work either. So how do we get folks to change? We give them something better than what they have. That's a preferred future. Yes, for the future mind initially. Are they in favor of this? I mean, here, let's say I have coronary artery bypass. I am dying and someone's saved my life by giving me the surgery. Man, I have a I have a real passion to live. I would think initially I would say, yeah, I'm going to do this, but then it falls off real fast. Yeah, I mean, that's my experience. I don't know about you folks, but whenever I go to the doctor for my annual physical, he says, Man, you got to cut back on that. You know, those those donuts and or, you know, you're going to have to start taking more blood pressure medicine. And for the first week, man, it's really, really high on my agenda. But it tends to fade back to your your your point. Would it be safe? Well, I don't know, But but one of the things that we could we could explore is, is. The in today's world, at least. What? What would be the amount of people that would respond to the gospel as a result of of compassion and the love of God as opposed to the threat of eternal damnation? Um, I don't I don't know the answer to that, but that would be an interesting study to do. I have a I have a of a hint, but. But I don't know. If somebody's all day off from the. If all they offered me was hell and damnation, I would create a new paradigm that didn't include them.

[00:08:39] In other words, my focus would say they don't exist. I did not. Whereas if somebody comes to me on the hall arena graves and is hardened enough, I would think too, in our postmodern world, that definitely grace. Make more sense because of what you just said. You're telling me, Helen, they were just trying to control me for what you believe. And I don't believe I exist. Yeah, you are. Yeah, you are out here on the fringes. You're not in the real world. But you convinced them that there's, like, hey, there's, like, a better, like, life that you're living right now. That's an alternative future that's better than it is. And so that's okay. Well, that you might catch them then if there will be Survivor, You know, no one's going to sit there over like the course of life and say, Well, I think my life is just great and I'm I'm good with this. This is good enough for me. And I mean, somebody might say that, but it's hard to convince yourself of that all the time. And so. So something to take on board. So when we talk about establishing a sense of urgency, it's it's not about a change or die message necessarily, although there may be that behind it, but it's really helping people to begin to dream of a preferred future that is preferred to the to what we are where we are now. That's a. That's the beauty of establishing that sense of urgency. Makes sense. Like in the corporate world, you have different idea of the strategy behind investing and and sort of focusing on different areas of your business. Or you have these certain things have been successful for years and but you don't actually invest in those because they are they might while they are profitable and benefiting your company right now they're they are on a downward trend or stable to downward trend in their life cycle.

[00:10:39] So you kind of let those are cash cows just kind of let that go and you ride it all you can, but you're putting your investment on and reinventing and those those new stars that you're going to invest in sort of going forward that are the your ultimate future, but you sort of enjoy the good times while you had it. But you know that we've got to reinvent ourselves if we're going to keep keeping this. That's an excellent analogy. Here's what John Carter had to say. Behavior change happens mostly by speaking to people's feelings. It's interesting in that in highly successful change efforts, people find ways to help others see the problems or solutions in ways that influence emotions, not just thought. So that's about establishing a sense of urgency. Any questions, Comments about that first step? Earlier on your diagram up and down. On top of stability in folks that are past that that peak. They're the ones that find themselves in. What is the definition of insanity, trying to do the same thing over and over again? I think different results. I was working with a group in a denomination recently and the statement was, We're in crisis. And I said, What do you mean by we're in crisis? And so what do you mean by that question? I said, Well, there's two ways to look at it. One, are you in crisis because you feel like if you don't do something, the organization's going to die, at least in terms of respectability? Or are you in crisis because you're concerned that that that what the world will lose if you cease to exist? Last question is a question about mission. First question is a question about perpetuity. Those are very different concepts of crisis.

[00:12:46] I think the second question can lead us toward a preferred future. The first question is really about how in the world do we stabilize this before we lose it all? And they're related, for sure. But but people on the downwards side of that often tend to think are thinking about organizational perpetuity. They are they're giving most of their energy to that. And mission has become very faded in their minds. That's typical. The longer, more mature an organization is, the more energy that goes toward keeping the organization running. And and so and less on the fundamental primary competence that the organization provides into the environment to start with. I'm no, I'm using organizational language there. But you I hope you you it's clear how it connects with the church.

 

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