Got Change? Three mistakes leaders make when facilitating change —  April 3, 2013

Three mistakes in changing the culture of an organization

 This week I had two conversations with leaders that are trying to improve/change their organizations, i/e churches.  While encountering some opposition in the process is normal, here are some things you would want to consider, as you consider changing the culture of your church. Remember two key facts:

            Culture- “how we do things here”.


  When you arrive at a church/organization/new assignment, we sometimes make the following wrong assumptions:


1. People want the church to grow.

Everyone says they want to grow. Until you start changing the status quo. Then, not so much. We erroneously assume that people mean what they say, when they say they want their church to grow. Growth means changing some of what you have been doing, because if you continue doing the same things you have always done, you will be getting the same results you have always gotten. Take into consideration the following preferences in you church:

            Some prefer small. Power is addictive, and they fear that more people=less power.

            Some prefer same. They are used to what is. Comfortable. Known. Familiar.

            Some prefer previous. The previous pastor taught them his way, was the only way.

 2. People want to follow you.

You may be the assigned leader, but you are not always the real leader. We assume that people will embrace your super visionary, earth shattering, demon destroying ideas, while members just want to have their starbucks (decaf), sing some familiar songs & hear a sermon that will put them to sleep, not to work. You want to build a Home Depot. They are perfectly fine with a corner Mom & Pop store.

 3. People understand the cost.

Change is hard. When Jesus calls us, he bids us to die. That’s no fun! There is a high cost for excellence. It costs people their power, control, familiarity and predictability. Usually the leader lives, breathes and sleeps ministry. People in the congregation have something we call “lives”. The cost for a church member to be “all in” is high. Spelling out the cost, and reassuring them of the kingdom’s purpose, in great detail, is a must.

 To do:

Here is an assignment. If you have a board/team of any kind, ask these 2 questions and sit back and take notes. Resist the urge to correct, rebuke, fire, or get defensive with the answer. Just sit back and listen. (and take good notes). Here are the questions:

            a. What would success look like, if we were to get there, in 3 years? Visualize for a moment what that looks like in: attendance, growth, worship, discipleship, children’s ministry, youth involvement, finances. (be as specific as you can in each area)

b. What would success feel like, if we accomplish in 3 years what we have set out to do?

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