The New Trojan Horse

Editors Note: During our August focus on Guest Experiences, we are honored to have some of the best voices in the world of Customer Experience provide guest posts for the Vision Room. As you read the content below, simply think “Guest” in terms of the “customer” the author is talking about – and you will benefit from the knowledge and expertise of some great minds.


Are you challenged in your efforts to implement organization-wide changes to improve your culture, the employee experience, and the customer experience?

Have you considered how a Trojan Mouse might help you gain traction in these efforts?

Trojan Mouse. What is it? And how does it differ from a Trojan Horse?

Well, right off the top of my head it seems like “Trojan Mouse” elicits an image of smallness, speed, and agility, while “Trojan Horse” makes me think of a larger undertaking that is a bit slower and more labored – in both planning and execution – and likely rejected.

Let’s start with what a Trojan Mouse is. From TrojanMice.com:

Much change is of the “Trojan Horse” variety. At the top of the organisation a decision is taken to introduce a strategic change programme, and consultants or an internal team are commissioned to plan it down to the very last detail. The planned changes are then presented at a grand event (the Trojan Horse) amid much loud music, bright lights, and dry ice. More often than not, however, a few weeks later the organisation will have settled back into its usual ways and rejected much of the change. This is usually because the change was too great to be properly understood and owned by the workforce.

Trojan mice, on the other hand, are small, well-focused changes, which are introduced on an ongoing basis in an inconspicuous way. They are small enough to be understood and owned by all concerned, but their effects can be far-reaching. Collectively a few trojan mice will change more than one Trojan Horse ever could.

What do you think of that?

I am immediately drawn to these two sentences: More often than not, however, a few weeks later the organisation will have settled back into its usual ways and rejected much of the change. This is usually because the change was too great to be properly understood and owned by the workforce.

Trojan Mice seem like a great approach to implementing change for a variety of reasons:

  • Trojan Mice address the last point in that second sentence – they are small enough to be understood and owned.
  • We often talk about quick wins and showing some successes before we do a full roll out of a CX strategy. Those small wins, those quick wins, are great examples of Trojan Mice, allowing for gradual adoption of – and engagement with – the larger journey.
  • Making small, nimble changes also limits risk or makes risk more tolerable as you design a new experience, develop new products, and find creative solutions to old problems. Think: fix fast, fail fast, fix fast.
  • You can deploy various changes at the same time, which means you can test which ones work and which don’t – allowing you to quickly retract the ones that won’t have the intended impact, learn from them, and redeploy with updates. Again: fail fast, fix fast.
  • Given that these changes are small and nimble, they will certainly help increase speed to market, i.e., you can get the solution out there quicker.
  • Small changes that are quickly accepted, understood, and owned will add up and make for a bigger impact quickly – and over time – than rolling out a Trojan Horse that baffles people and is immediately rejected.

People hate change. And if they don’t know what it is or why it’s taking place, they ignore it; they certainly don’t want to be a part of it. Why not break it down for them, simplify it, and help them understand and own it.

As I’ve said before, improving the customer experience happens in baby steps; Trojan Mice – small, yet impactful, examples with tangible value – may just be the quickest way to successful adoption of the CX strategy and to transformation success.

> Read more from Annette.


 

Learn more about the power of connecting with your Guests – start a conversation with Guest Experience Navigator Bob Adams.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Annette Franz

Annette Franz

Annette Franz is founder and CEO (Chief Experience Officer, of course!) of CX Journey Inc. She's got 25 years of experience in both helping companies understand their customers and employees and identifying what drives retention, satisfaction, engagement, and the overall experience - so that, together, we can design a better experience for all constituents. Annette is active in the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA), as: an Executive Officer on the Board of Directors, a CX Expert, and a CX Mentor. And she is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP). She is also an official member of the Forbes Coaches Council, an invitation-only community for successful business and career coaches. Members are selected based on their depth and diversity of experience.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Christinah Facing the dilema in church planting has just given me sleepless nights with headache in this small town in Swaziland Southern Africa. The model we used is not working. People around are shunning our services. I do not feel like quitting, but some of my team members are discouraged now.
 
— Tau Kutloano Christinah
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.
 
— Linda Speaks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> We are experiencing our church closing at the end of the month. We are all heart broken and agree that this is the best church family we've ever had. I personally can say I am not used to my attendance weekly being so important. I have never been to a start up church. We needed 3 things, an associate pastor, everyone's involvement and money. I cannot believe that the best church for so many people is closing. Being g a forever optimist, I can't help but think God will intervene somehow.
 
— Linda
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Three Keys to Avoiding Failure When A Change Must Come

Nothing frustrates great leaders more than watching a project crucial to their church’s growth and missional effectiveness stall prior to completion. Hours of effort and dreaming often disappear in the span of one congregational meeting.

A misunderstanding of the Iron Triangle often leads to progress dying on the vine.

The Iron Triangle is a principle of project management that states this: there are three, independent, yet inter-dependent objectives in any initiative that, when applied, also become constraints. An increase in any of the two will necessarily result in a decrease in the other one.

A desire for each of these objectives results in three questions that are asked of every project:

Can it be great? Based on a desire for the highest quality.

Can it be quick? Based on a desire for the promptest delivery.

Can it be cheap? Based on a desire for the lowest cost.

People want all three objectives: a product that is good, fast and cheap.

The Principle of the Iron Triangle states that you can only ever achieve two of the three objectives at any one time.

It can be good and fast, but your project will not be very cheap.

It can be fast and cheap, but your project will not be very good.

It can be cheap and good, but your project will not be very fast.

It is not a question of style or experience, but of economy. There are only so many resources available at any one time. Effective leaders understand this reality and can prioritize the two resources that matter the most, as well as set appropriate expectations for their team.

The Iron Triangle is highly applicable to leading change in the church as well.

When it comes to leading effective change in the church, you can only have two of those three resources in any initiative:

Positive change that most everyone will receive without hesitation.

Expedient change that is responsive to immediately pressing matters.

Inexpensive change that is not dependent on significant resources.

A positive and expedient change will require higher financial and volunteer resources to realize.

An expedient and inexpensive change will require more significant relational capital, and concessions of personal preference, to realize.

An inexpensive and positive change will require a more extended season and more considerable investment of time to realize.

The Leader’s real secret lies in knowing how to set congregational expectations around which resources are being maximized and which will be missing. Setting appropriate expectations within the Iron Triangle often becomes the difference maker of success when change is required.

If you are facing a significant change in your church, your first step is to decide which pathway that you desire the most:

  1. A change that everyone will like and that can happen quickly.
  2. A change that can happen soon and will not cost a lot.
  3. A change that will not cost a lot and everyone will be happy about.

Next, based on the pathway above, set everyone’s expectations for the resource that will be required:

  1. This type of change will take significant financial and volunteer resources.
  2. This type of change will bring sideways energy dealing with unhappy people.
  3. This type of change will take time to implement and integrate across the body.

Finally, lead confidently knowing that you are pursuing God’s better future for your church and the Kingdom. Always remember that refusing to change is deciding to decline.

> Read more from Bryan.


 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bryan Rose

As Lead Navigator for Auxano, Bryan Rose has a strong bias toward merging strategy and creativity within the vision of the local church and has had a diversity of experience in just about every ministry discipline over the last 12 years. With his experience as a multi-site strategist and campus pastor at a 3500 member multi-campus church in the Houston Metro area, Bryan has a passion to see “launch clarity” define the unique Great Commission call of developing church plants and campus, while at the same time serving established churches as they seek to clarify their individual ministry calling. Bryan has demonstrated achievement as a strategic thinker with a unique ability to infuse creativity into the visioning process while bringing a group of people to a deep sense of personal ownership and passion.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Christinah Facing the dilema in church planting has just given me sleepless nights with headache in this small town in Swaziland Southern Africa. The model we used is not working. People around are shunning our services. I do not feel like quitting, but some of my team members are discouraged now.
 
— Tau Kutloano Christinah
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.
 
— Linda Speaks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> We are experiencing our church closing at the end of the month. We are all heart broken and agree that this is the best church family we've ever had. I personally can say I am not used to my attendance weekly being so important. I have never been to a start up church. We needed 3 things, an associate pastor, everyone's involvement and money. I cannot believe that the best church for so many people is closing. Being g a forever optimist, I can't help but think God will intervene somehow.
 
— Linda
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Timestamp. 5 Ways Your Church is Not Retro… Just Outdated

You open the doors to your church every weekend hoping more people will come (or in some cases, hoping somebody comes) only to discover that, with few exceptions, more people rarely do.

It can get discouraging, and many leaders wring their hands over what to do and how to respond.

Even once-growing churches hit plateaus and stumble into decline, and we wonder why it’s so hard to gain traction.

One of the reasons so many churches struggle these days is that the way we do church is badly outdated.

Culture is changing rapidly, which means people are changing rapidly. If you want to reach people, that probably also means you need to change your approach rapidly.

That freaks out a lot of Christians who think that because the message never changes, nothing should change.

There’s a huge difference between changing the message and changing the method.

In the church’s case, the historic message doesn’t change. But the methods have to.

Here’s why: if you don’t change your methods, eventually no one will hear your message.

I have a sinking feeling if we sat down with young adults and asked them why we do things the way we do, we’d hear an earful.

As the pace of change accelerates around us with every passing month, here are 5 ways the way we do church appears ever-more outdated.

1. Making People Go To Church

As I outlined in my 2018 church trends post, the idea of only doing church in a ‘box’ on Sundays is an increasingly stale idea.

In the (very near) future, people won’t go to church. The church will go to people.

Not sure what that means?

Think about how much your life has changed in the last 15 years.

Quick example: Let’s say I want to buy a specific wooden monitor stand for my iMac (which I do). I have two options.

Option 1: Traipse to store after store looking for what feels like a needle in a haystack (I want a walnut one), realizing, in the end, I likely need to go to Toronto or some major city to find one that a) I like, b) fits my particular computer and c) is in my price range. (Not factoring in, of course, a lot of phone calls, a day of lost travel time and tons of gas money).

Option 2: Browse Amazon and Etsy from my phone, order the monitor and have it shipped to my house next day.

Which would you choose?

Exactly.

Despite a welcome and thoughtful backlash against technology and what it’s doing to our minds (and souls), the internet is still not going away anytime soon.

There was a day when going to church was the only option you had if you wanted to be part of a local church.

A century or more ago, you lived in a village or city or on a farm, and you made the trek into town or over a few blocks to hear the local preacher. It was also a chance to connect relationally and socially. Honestly, for many people a century ago it was a highlight of their week.

The car gave people mobility, so we created bigger suburban churches to which people drove.

As a result, our entire model for the last century or more has been built on people going to church as though it was a destination and physical place.

But back up the timeline earlier than that, and you realize that the church going to people is not that innovative. Entire denominations and movements were premised on bringing the church to people (think circuit preachers or even the Apostle Paul).

Now, of course, we have the internet. Which most church leaders still seem to ignore as a serious tool for ministry.

So many churches remain stuck in the idea that the only way you can access the Gospel is to come to our building at a set hour every week.

Want access beyond that? Not sure how to help you.

Too many churches operate an analog model in a digital world.

Churches that want to reach people will bring the church to people, through:

A great social media presence

Messages available anytime, anywhere in multiple formats (web, social, podcast)

In-home gatherings

Practical help/advice/encouragement for everyday life (like the ParentCue strategy and the ParentCue app)

Partnerships in the community with other organizations that are making a difference (which not only does good, but takes you out of your box and into where the people you’re trying to reach gather)

Ironically, when churches begin to go to people, it makes people also want to go to church.

Because you went to them, they will want to come to you.

It creates a reciprocal, daily relationship. Whatever you do during the week builds on what happened on the weekend. And whatever you do on the weekend built on what happened during the week.

But most churches still only want people to come to them. That clock is ticking…fast.

2. Separating The Analogue And Digital Worlds

If 2018 is the year where (finally) the digital becomes real for church leaders, the question becomes what to do with it.

Strangely, most churches still separate what they do digitally and what they do in the real world.

Most of us weave seamlessly between our digital and real lives, texting someone one minute and sitting down for coffee with them the next, emailing someone to follow up on the meeting we just had, and video chatting someone we’re hanging out with Friday night.

Too many church leaders still think of their:

  • Email list as a ‘newsletter’
  • Social media as an announcement and PR venue
  • The physical world as the ‘real thing’

You know what the digital world is? It’s relationship.

It’s a friendship. And like all good friendships, it doesn’t fit in a programmatic box.

Our guest services team at Connexus has noticed a huge shift in the last year where almost everyone who visits us in person has watched online for weeks or months before they set foot in a building.

I go to parties and people who never set foot in a church tell me they watch my messages online.

They don’t see it as separate.

Church leaders who do, lose.

Conversely, leaders who see the analog/digital life as seamless will be in much a better position to reach people who live like it’s seamless, because it is.

3. Ignoring True Community

Is there any irony in the digital explosion around us? Of course there is.

The more connected we become, the more disconnected we feel.

The church should embrace technology as a way to connect, but also realize that as people connect more digitally, they feel increasingly isolated and removed from each other.

What people hunger for most is community. And no one should be better at community than the local church.

The challenge, of course, is that we’re not all that great at community.

Too often our ‘fellowship’ is shallow, or we fight a lot.

What’s missing in far too many churches is love. The very thing for which we should be known.

Churches that become great at cultivating true community will have a long line of people wanting to be part of it.

4. Creating A 100% Downloadable Or Forgettable Experience

I outline the problem with downloadable church services in this post, but let’s drill down a more.

Yes, the church will become more digital, more location independent, more remote. Sermons can be consumed on a run, on a commute and while cooking dinner. I get that. That’s a good thing. You should be able to download snippets of what your church does so you can be present in peoples lives.

But you need to facilitate experiences that go beyond that.

If your entire church experience is 100% downloadable, why would you gather? It’s often in the gathering when people move beyond themselves and experience something transcendent and life-changing.

Ironically, the constant consumption of content leaves people hungering for greater community, greater experience and greater transcendence.

Churches that facilitate those kinds of experiences are seeing momentum. Churches that don’t find it far harder to gain momentum.

I realize this creates a sea of questions for some people.

One of the best questions you can ask as a church leader is “If people show up on a Sunday, have we left enough room for them to encounter God?” That can be done through music, through prayer, through silence and even through the way you preach. It’s a posture as much as it’s programming.

Too often, people show up at church hoping to find God. Instead, they find us.

Don’t let people show up to your church only to find you.

This is one of the highest value points of a church that gathers: you share in something far bigger and far better than any of us and all of us.

5. Being Mediocre

One of the challenges most leaders face is trying to do a great ministry on limited resources.

Since we’re all hyper-connected, it means many churches try to imitate larger churches in what they do, often with limited success.

While you just don’t have the talent, skill or ability to pull off what a church 10 or 100x your size does, that doesn’t stop many from trying.

The result is usually mediocrity.

Years ago Jim Collins asked a great question that should still haunt every leader: what can you be best in the world at?

How would you answer that?

Just because you can’t be great at everything doesn’t mean you can’t be great at anything.

The key is to isolate the principles or points that resonate most.

You may not be the best preacher in the world, but what aspect of your preaching connects best?

Your stories?

The way you make the complex simple?

How you handle scripture?

Your relatability?

The personal connection you create with your audience?

Discover what connects best and develop that. 

Musically, you may not have a great band…but do you have a

Fantastic vocalist?

Great keyboardist?

Solid guitar player?

Good DJ?

Focus on what makes you great.

And no, you don’t have an unlimited budget, but meaningful connection with other people is free. So is kindness. So is hope.

Stop being mediocre at everything.

Pick a lane, and go deep.

You can branch out from there.

In an age where people create amazing art, design, products and services from home-based businesses, mediocrity is no longer an effective strategy.

What Do You See?

What parts of our model of doing church do you see as being outdated?

Anything you’d love to change?

Read more from Carey.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is lead pastor of Connexus Community Church and author of the best selling books, Leading Change Without Losing It and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Carey speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Christinah Facing the dilema in church planting has just given me sleepless nights with headache in this small town in Swaziland Southern Africa. The model we used is not working. People around are shunning our services. I do not feel like quitting, but some of my team members are discouraged now.
 
— Tau Kutloano Christinah
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.
 
— Linda Speaks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> We are experiencing our church closing at the end of the month. We are all heart broken and agree that this is the best church family we've ever had. I personally can say I am not used to my attendance weekly being so important. I have never been to a start up church. We needed 3 things, an associate pastor, everyone's involvement and money. I cannot believe that the best church for so many people is closing. Being g a forever optimist, I can't help but think God will intervene somehow.
 
— Linda
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Intentional Sunsets Bring Beautiful Sunrises: How to Lead Healthy Change in Your Church

Remember when the University of Alabama Birmingham football program was dissolved? A video of player’s reactions was definitely NSFW! Although the original announcement was not in the clip, based on the player response filmed… their own important, personal and emotional decisions to play ball at UAB felt overlooked and thrown to the side because “the numbers do not work.”

Immediately I recognized the passion and fervor (and honestly, some of the language) often seen and heard from church members after being told they were losing a very important, always personal and often emotional part of their church identity through changes like:

  • A staff member transition.
  • A worship style change.
  • A Sunday school model abandoned.
  • A children’s program discontinued.
  • A building left empty in relocation.

Every instance held arguably “right” reasons…

Yet right reasons rarely make emotional changes feel right.

Our church culture, with a social-media connected visibility of great ideas, fuels the desire in leaders to love sunrises. We are guilty of emphasizing the starting of new initiatives, while forgetting the importance of celebrating the impact of aging strategies through healthy sunsets.

After all, transition is inevitable in the church…

  • Ministry programs fail to meet once-felt needs and lose effectiveness.
  • Worship styles change and respond to artistic gifts of emerging worship leaders.
  • Staff will retire, move to another church or worse yet, lose their authority to lead.
  • Altars and “sacred spaces” will eventually repainted, re-carpeted or replaced.

HOW we communicate change is as important as why we are making the change to begin with. Most often, our rationale is rarely relatable in the context of high personal investment. Effective church leaders tell stories of Gospel impact and Christ-centered transformation, while pointing ahead to the next sunrise God is preparing.

Celebrating change with an intentional sunset builds anticipation toward the beautiful sunrise to come.

How can you lead the next change at your church with an intentional sunset?

> Read more from Bryan.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bryan Rose

As Lead Navigator for Auxano, Bryan Rose has a strong bias toward merging strategy and creativity within the vision of the local church and has had a diversity of experience in just about every ministry discipline over the last 12 years. With his experience as a multi-site strategist and campus pastor at a 3500 member multi-campus church in the Houston Metro area, Bryan has a passion to see “launch clarity” define the unique Great Commission call of developing church plants and campus, while at the same time serving established churches as they seek to clarify their individual ministry calling. Bryan has demonstrated achievement as a strategic thinker with a unique ability to infuse creativity into the visioning process while bringing a group of people to a deep sense of personal ownership and passion.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Christinah Facing the dilema in church planting has just given me sleepless nights with headache in this small town in Swaziland Southern Africa. The model we used is not working. People around are shunning our services. I do not feel like quitting, but some of my team members are discouraged now.
 
— Tau Kutloano Christinah
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.
 
— Linda Speaks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> We are experiencing our church closing at the end of the month. We are all heart broken and agree that this is the best church family we've ever had. I personally can say I am not used to my attendance weekly being so important. I have never been to a start up church. We needed 3 things, an associate pastor, everyone's involvement and money. I cannot believe that the best church for so many people is closing. Being g a forever optimist, I can't help but think God will intervene somehow.
 
— Linda
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Five Setbacks to Lasting Change

It is one of the most common questions I am asked.

Essentially, the question, in one form or another, deals with organizational change. The church wants to change its staff structure. The leadership wants to reconsider the roles and functions of elders or deacons. The lead pastor wants to have different people reporting to him.

To be clear, organizational change is absolutely necessary . . . some of the time. But much of the time, we lead organizational change for the wrong reasons. And the results are often frustration, exhaustion, and loss of momentum. Here are five clear reasons church organizational change fails:

  1. The change is a substitute for dealing with people issues. There are one or more people in the organization who are problems in their current roles. They may be over their head, lacking people skills, lazy, or incompetent. Instead of having the courage to confront the people directly, we organize around them. This erroneous move is sometimes called a “work around.” You are working around the real issue instead of dealing with it directly.
  2. The change becomes a substitute for execution. Work is not getting done in some areas. Ministry is languishing in other areas. The church tries to create an organizational structure to get the work done. But the greater need is simply for people to roll up their sleeves and do the work, as messy as it can be. Organizational change is not a solution for poor execution.
  3. The change gives a false sense of comfort and security. Sometimes leaders make organizational change and declare the work done once the changes are made. But the work should only be beginning after the change. The new organizational structure gives a false sense of comfort and security that the challenges have been met.
  4. The change does not keep up with the pace of other changes. Many organizational structures are so rigid or complex they cannot adapt to the fast pace of change. The new structure thus becomes a hindrance for future and greater health.
  5. The change is a copy of another church. There is nothing wrong with emulating another church’s organizational structure. But if we fail to discern if the new structure is really best for our context, the change will do us more harm than good. Unfortunately, too many church leaders contract emulation fever and it makes the whole church sick.

Change done for the right reason is good. Change done for the wrong reason or for the sake of change itself can leave the church in a more difficult position than keeping the status quo.

Lead change well. Lead organizational change well. Learn what is best for your church rather than copy another church. Seek wisdom before action.


 

Read more from Thom.

 


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.  Prior to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism.  He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to speaking in hundreds of venues over the past 20 years, Rainer led Rainer Group, a church and denominational consulting firm, from 1990 to 2005. The firm provided church health insights to over 500 churches and other organizations over that period. Rainer and his wife, Nellie Jo, have three grown sons: Sam, Art and Jess, who are married to Erin, Sarah and Rachel respectively.  The Rainers have six grandchildren: Canon, Maggie, Nathaniel, Will (with the Lord), Harper, and Bren. He is the author of twenty-four books, including Breakout Churches, Simple Life, Simple Church, Raising Dad, The Millennials, and Essential Church.  His latest book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church, was released in 2014 by B&H Publishing Group.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Christinah Facing the dilema in church planting has just given me sleepless nights with headache in this small town in Swaziland Southern Africa. The model we used is not working. People around are shunning our services. I do not feel like quitting, but some of my team members are discouraged now.
 
— Tau Kutloano Christinah
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.
 
— Linda Speaks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> We are experiencing our church closing at the end of the month. We are all heart broken and agree that this is the best church family we've ever had. I personally can say I am not used to my attendance weekly being so important. I have never been to a start up church. We needed 3 things, an associate pastor, everyone's involvement and money. I cannot believe that the best church for so many people is closing. Being g a forever optimist, I can't help but think God will intervene somehow.
 
— Linda
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The Danger of Seeking Stability

Change or die.

That is reality for churches today.

Of course, I am not talking about Scripture, doctrine, or spiritual disciplines changing. Those things are constants, never to be compromised.

But much of what we do in our churches must change. And, unfortunately, many church members and leaders resist change. They seek stability and comfort over obedience and sacrifice.

Let’s look at five key reasons why stability is bad for a church.

  1. A stable church is not a church on mission. The very nature of the Great Commission means our churches should be in constant change. A church member blasted a pastor for his efforts at leading the church to reach unbelievers in the community. She castigated him because “those people are messing up our church.” Sigh.
  2. Comfort is the enemy of obedience. Review all the examples of obedient persons in the Bible. In every case, they had to get out of their comfort zones. Too many church members want stability because they don’t want to experience the discomfort of obedience.
  3. Stable churches are not reaching their communities. The communities in which churches are located are changing. Many are changing rapidly. If a church seeks comfort, it is not willing to make the necessary changes to impact the community it was called to serve.
  4. Stable churches do not create new groups. Show me a stable church, and I will show you a church that is not creating new groups or Sunday school classes. Show me a church not creating new groups, and I will show you a church that is inwardly focused. The members are spiritual navel gazers.
  5. Members of stable churches want the focus to be on their preferences. They want church “the way it’s always been.” They are more concerned about getting their way with music style, room temperature, and precise starting time of worship services. In their latter years, they are able to sing, “I did it my way” rather than “I did it God’s way.”

There is nothing biblical about a stable church. In fact, the stability is really just an illusion. Those churches that seek stability will ironically change the most rapidly toward decline and death.


Talk with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about the dangers of stability.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.  Prior to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism.  He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to speaking in hundreds of venues over the past 20 years, Rainer led Rainer Group, a church and denominational consulting firm, from 1990 to 2005. The firm provided church health insights to over 500 churches and other organizations over that period. Rainer and his wife, Nellie Jo, have three grown sons: Sam, Art and Jess, who are married to Erin, Sarah and Rachel respectively.  The Rainers have six grandchildren: Canon, Maggie, Nathaniel, Will (with the Lord), Harper, and Bren. He is the author of twenty-four books, including Breakout Churches, Simple Life, Simple Church, Raising Dad, The Millennials, and Essential Church.  His latest book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church, was released in 2014 by B&H Publishing Group.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Christinah Facing the dilema in church planting has just given me sleepless nights with headache in this small town in Swaziland Southern Africa. The model we used is not working. People around are shunning our services. I do not feel like quitting, but some of my team members are discouraged now.
 
— Tau Kutloano Christinah
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.
 
— Linda Speaks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> We are experiencing our church closing at the end of the month. We are all heart broken and agree that this is the best church family we've ever had. I personally can say I am not used to my attendance weekly being so important. I have never been to a start up church. We needed 3 things, an associate pastor, everyone's involvement and money. I cannot believe that the best church for so many people is closing. Being g a forever optimist, I can't help but think God will intervene somehow.
 
— Linda
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

7 Change-Killers in Every Church

Almost every leader I’ve ever met wants to change something.

If I asked you right now what you’d love to change in your church or organization, you’d probably be able to offer an answer within seconds.

Some of you want to change everything. If you don’t want to change anything, you’re probably not a leader.

The truth about change is that it’s more mysterious than it needs to be.

Many people aren’t sure how the dynamics of change work, and have seen so many leaders get skewered trying to lead change that they’re afraid to try.

Other leaders—unaware of the dynamics of change—storm change so aggressively that they look over their shoulder to discover than nobody’s following.

You can learn how to lead change well.

Leading change requires a skill set. And the good news is that skill set can be learned.

A question all of us face when leading change: What do I actually say when I’m leading change?

Say the right thing…and change can happen easily.

Say the wrong thing…and plans can unravel in front of you.

7 Things NOT To Say When You’re Leading Change

Some language is simply more helpful in leading change than other language.

So…let’s take it from a reverse angle today. If you want to ruin the chance of change happening in your church, just say these 7 things.

1.” These Changes Are Great. I Can’t Understand Why You Don’t Like Them.” (Lack Of Empathy)

Leaders who navigate change successfully learn the skill of empathy.

Not everyone is going to cheer wildly when you introduce change. Be prepared for that.

If you want to turn an enemy into a friend, empathize with them. Try saying something like: I can understand you don’t like the changes…I would be upset if I were you too.

If you want to learn more about developing the skill of empathy, this post might help you.

2. “God Told Me This Is What We Should Do.” (Speaking For God)

Please, please, please don’t pull the God card when you’re navigating change.

I mean by all means invoke God’s name when you’re preaching about Jesus rising from the dead or other core essentials of the Christian faith.

But don’t tell your congregation that God told you to buy your next building or change the music or stop wearing a suit or change the carpet or build a new wing or whatever else you’re proposing.

Even if you believe God told you to do something, suggest it as a plan…or a wise course to follow…or the best options we see right now.

Rather than being less credible, you will become more believable and more trustworthy.

Too many leaders use God as a trump card for the plans they’ve designed.

I pray about the plans we make, seek wise counsel and honestly believe they are the best thing for our church. But these days I never pull the God card out.

Why? Because if the plan fails, it just makes people suspicious or cynical. I don’t want to bring God’s name into disrepute. If I stick to the Gospel, I won’t.

So what should you say?

How about this? Our team has looked at this and prayerfully considered the options. We believe this is the best move we can make at this time for these reasons….

Ironically, you won’t lose credibility. You’ll gain it.

3. “We’ve Got This All Figured Out. Trust Me.” (Know It All)

Don’t try to be the guy who ‘knows it all’. You don’t.

You haven’t got this all figured out—you have a strategy. That’s it.

So be honest. Why not say something like: No, we’re not 100% sure this is going to work. But what we were doing was not working. So we’re going to try this.

Better, isn’t it?

4. What Happened In The Past Is Completely Irrelevant…Focus On The Future. (Dismissing The Past)

I’ve been tempted to dismiss the past. Who hasn’t?

Some of that is the arrogance of the leader. History did not start with your arrival.

Brian White, who works at Disney, has a great philosophy about handling the heritage at Disney (after all, Disney has almost 100 years of history, and Frozen is a long way from Steamboat Willie.) Disney’s approach?

Honor the past without living in it.

Love that. Acknowledge that what happened in the past mattered and is important, and point the way to the future.

Maybe say something like: We’ve had some great moments and seasons in the past, and we want to ensure we have many more in the future. That’s what I’m hoping this change will accomplish.

5. “Everyone Needs To Get On Board Right Now.” (Impatience)

People will take differing amounts of time to get on board. Be okay with that.

You’ll have a handful of highly enthusiastic early adopters. Run with them.

Let others come on board over time.

Say something like: I realize this is going to stretch all of us, and I appreciate those of you who are willing to give this a chance even though you’re not sure. We so value that!

6. “I Know People Are Leaving…Who Cares?” (Indifference)

When you make changes, it’s almost guaranteed that some people will leave.

But don’t gloat or pretend it doesn’t matter.

Because leaving hurts you, you’ll be tempted to pretend you don’t feel it or to vilify your opponents.

People who disagree with you are not bad people. They just disagree with you.

Are there times when people should leave your church? Yes. In fact, here are 7 instances when you should invite people to leave your church.

But in the moment—when people are leaving—this is a moment for empathy. Express concern both for people who are concerned about people who are leaving and express regret.

But then say maybe say something like:

Yes, it is sad. But I think what need to remember is that they will have another church to go to. I’m excited about creating space for people who haven’t yet been to church…and I’m excited that you want to create space for them here too.

7. “This Plan Is Bullet-Proof.” (Hubris)

No matter how well thought-through your plan is, it’s not bullet proof.

It might fail. Really, it might.

So why not just be honest?

Instead, say something like: I agree. We don’t know for sure if this plan is going to work. But it’s helped a lot of other churches (or…if no one’s tried it that you know of, say ‘nobody’s really tried this before…’), and we believe it’s our next best step. So we’re going to try it. And after we’ve given it our best, we’ll make sure to evaluate it. Thanks for the freedom to try new things.

What Do You Think?

Those are some lessons from the trenches in leading change. If you are interested in more, you can read about the five essential strategies every leader needs when handling opposition to change here.

What have you said or heard people say when leading change that you think is a mistake?


Talk with an Auxano Navigator for help in steering your church through change.


> Read more from Carey.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is lead pastor of Connexus Community Church and author of the best selling books, Leading Change Without Losing It and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Carey speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Christinah Facing the dilema in church planting has just given me sleepless nights with headache in this small town in Swaziland Southern Africa. The model we used is not working. People around are shunning our services. I do not feel like quitting, but some of my team members are discouraged now.
 
— Tau Kutloano Christinah
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.
 
— Linda Speaks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> We are experiencing our church closing at the end of the month. We are all heart broken and agree that this is the best church family we've ever had. I personally can say I am not used to my attendance weekly being so important. I have never been to a start up church. We needed 3 things, an associate pastor, everyone's involvement and money. I cannot believe that the best church for so many people is closing. Being g a forever optimist, I can't help but think God will intervene somehow.
 
— Linda
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Inspiring Communicators Start With WHY

To help others see change, the leader must understand how to unlock the imagination.

The very act of imagination is connected to faith. The author of Hebrews writes, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). When a leader articulates, or provokes, a follower’s imagination, he or she is serving both God and the individual by exercising the muscle of faith.

Unlock the imagination of your audience by starting with WHY.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Start with WHY by Simon Sinek

Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty?

In studying the leaders who’ve had the greatest influence in the world, Simon Sinek discovered that they all think, act, and communicate in the exact same way-and it’s the complete opposite of what everyone else does. People like Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and the Wright Brothers might have little in common, but they all started with why.

Drawing on a wide range of real-life stories, Sinek weaves together a clear vision of what it truly takes to lead and inspire.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Walt Disney’s dream that we now know as Disneyland faced an immense problem: how do you get financial investors to back something that’s never been done before, and exists only in a few sketches?

Faced with this dilemma, Disney did what he was best at: he painted pictures with words:

The idea of Disneyland is a simple one. It will be a place for people to find happiness and knowledge. It will be a place for parents and children to spend pleasant times in one another’s company.

Disneyland will be based upon and dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and hard facts that have created America. And it will be uniquely equipped to dramatize these dreams and facts and send them forth as a source of courage and inspiration to all the world.

Disneyland will be filled with the accomplishments, the joys and hopes of the world we live in. And it will remind us and show us how to make those wonders part of our lives.

(Walt Disney, An American Original, 246-247)

Disney’s simple but evocative language convinced the investors of a future they could not see – and the rest is history.

Great leaders and great organizations are good at seeing what most of us can’t see. They are good at giving us things we would never think of asking for.

Great leaders are those who trust their gut. They are those who understand the art before the science. They win hearts before minds. They are the ones who start with WHY.

Products and services with a clear sense of WHY give people a way to tell the outside world who they are and what they believe. Remember, people don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it. If an organization does not have a clear sense of WHY then it is impossible for the outside world to perceive anything more than WHAT the organization does. And when that happens, manipulations that rely on pushing price, features, service or quality become the primary currency of differentiation.

WHAT: Every single organization on the planet knows WHAT they do. Everyone is easily able to describe the products or services a company sells or the job function they have within that system. WHATS are easy to identify.

HOW: Some companies and people know HOW they do WHAT they do. HOWs are often given to explain how something is different or better. Not as obvious as WHATs, many think these are the differentiating or motivating factors in a decision. It would be false to assume that’s all that is required. There is one missing detail:

WHY: Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY I mean what is your purpose, cause or belief? WHY does your organization exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?

It all starts from the inside out. It all starts with WHY.

Simon Sinek, Start with Why

A NEXT STEP

There is a fine line between inspiration and manipulation. A leader can use powerful language, vivid images, and emotional pleas to his audience – and be a manipulative, power-hungry despot.

A leader can also use powerful language, vivid images, and emotional pleas to his audience – and be a visionary leader.

The difference is in the WHY. If people don’t believe in the WHY behind your vision, they won’t be motivated to help you deliver it.

To understand the WHY behind all sides of a situation, idea, or problem you are facing, take the WHY Train by answering the following questions:

  1. Who is the main actor in the situation or problem?
  2. What is the main concept, object, or action the main actor uses or performs?
  3. Where is the main actor located when performing or using the main concept, object, or action?
  4. When does the situation or problem occur?
  5. Describe each answer in more depth.
  6. Conclude by asking WHY to the answers you have given.

The result of this exercise will be a thorough and sequential description about a situation and the insightful reasoning behind each element.

Taken from SUMS Remix 29-1, published December 2015.


This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

> Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company. He joined Auxano in 2012.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Christinah Facing the dilema in church planting has just given me sleepless nights with headache in this small town in Swaziland Southern Africa. The model we used is not working. People around are shunning our services. I do not feel like quitting, but some of my team members are discouraged now.
 
— Tau Kutloano Christinah
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.
 
— Linda Speaks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> We are experiencing our church closing at the end of the month. We are all heart broken and agree that this is the best church family we've ever had. I personally can say I am not used to my attendance weekly being so important. I have never been to a start up church. We needed 3 things, an associate pastor, everyone's involvement and money. I cannot believe that the best church for so many people is closing. Being g a forever optimist, I can't help but think God will intervene somehow.
 
— Linda
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Does Your Church Possess the Right Skills to Take on Tomorrow?

Over a decade and a half into the 21st century, one thing has become clear: change is the new normal.

In business, it’s called innovation, and it’s a strategic pillar in nearly every organization. Thanks to a growing body of research and thought leadership in recent years, we’re learning a great deal about the individual skill sets behind innovation, and the organizational strategies that create disruptive growth. Yet in organizations around the world, well-intentioned innovation initiatives crash and burn, despite a wealth of great ideas, copious research, and well-designed strategies.

Why? Innovation is not just about data analysis, plans and processes, and thinking outside the box. More than anything else, innovation is about change. And the truth is that as much as we’d like to think otherwise, we are all hardwired to resist it.

Your “innovation initiatives” are no exception to this rule. People are tired of being asked to change and innovate. It’s become a dirty word inside organizations, because it usually heralds one more complicated system to learn, or more things to add to the daily to-do list. Call a big meeting to kick off another “change initiative” and just about the whole team will roll their eyes.

They know that next year more changes will be implemented, because the last change initiative didn’t change a thing for the better, or the execs that start the initiative won’t be there in a year, and the next leadership team will roll out yet another initiative.

That cycle stops here. Despite the grumbling, eye rolling, and resistance, change is an absolute imperative for organizations today. Innovation is not only about finding new growth opportunities and improving the bottom line. It’s about developing services, solutions, and ideas that improve people’s lives, and the world in which we live. This is what the greatest organizations – and individuals -strive to achieve.

So, what can we do to make change stick?

Lisa Bodell, founder and CEO of futurethink, an internationally recognized innovation research and training firm, believes that anyone can be innovative, and everyone can become an agent for change. Futurethink helps organizations—from Fortune 500 companies to boutique firms—create environments where innovation and change thrive naturally. Working with these companies has given futurethink a chance to experiment with ideas about what it takes to build innovation capabilities in organizations, and then test-drive specific tools and exercises to make it happen.

According to Bodell, one of the things that she’s learned along the way is that when it comes to change, an organization’s biggest enemy is itself.

Before you jump in and start trying to shake things up, it’s helpful to gauge how open to change you—your organization, your team, or you as an individual—are today.

  • Is your culture as a whole stifling innovation, or will just a small tweak here and there get your cylinders firing wildly again?
  • Does your organization possess the right skills to take on tomorrow?
  • Does it embrace the behaviors necessary to create a culture that incubates innovation and generates growth over the long term?
  • What skills and behaviors do you already possess and where can you improve?

You can take stock of your innovation situation by taking the futurethink Innovation Capabilities Diagnostic, available in the download below.

This Innovation Diagnostic will help you get a feel for how fertile the ground is for innovation in your organization. With a general idea of where your organization could improve, you’re well on your way to examining the many ways you can begin to inspire innovation at your organization, and ensure that – this time – the changes will stick.

>> Download How to Make Change Stick by Lisa Bodell here.

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Would you like to learn more about developing an intentional strategy to help your organization deal with change? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lisa Bodell

Lisa Bodell is the author of Kill the Company: End the Status Quo, Start an Innovation Revolution (Bibliomotion). As founder and CEO of futurethink, an internationally recognized innovation research and training firm, Bodell believes that everyone has the power to innovate; they just need to know how. As a leading innovator and trainer, she has devised training programs for companies such as 3M, GE, and Johnson & Johnson. Learn more and keep up with her online at www.KillTheCompany.com.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Christinah Facing the dilema in church planting has just given me sleepless nights with headache in this small town in Swaziland Southern Africa. The model we used is not working. People around are shunning our services. I do not feel like quitting, but some of my team members are discouraged now.
 
— Tau Kutloano Christinah
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.
 
— Linda Speaks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> We are experiencing our church closing at the end of the month. We are all heart broken and agree that this is the best church family we've ever had. I personally can say I am not used to my attendance weekly being so important. I have never been to a start up church. We needed 3 things, an associate pastor, everyone's involvement and money. I cannot believe that the best church for so many people is closing. Being g a forever optimist, I can't help but think God will intervene somehow.
 
— Linda
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

4 Steps Toward Change All Leaders Take

I seldom address a gathering of pastors without “the” question being asked, in one form or another:

“How do you change a church?”

Whether moving from a traditional model to one that is more contemporary, a complex structure to one that is simpler, or an outdated outreach strategy to one more relevant and effective, knowing the target on the wall isn’t the problem.

It’s how to actually lead the change to hit it.

Here are the four steps to leading change in your church (I am going to assume you already know to pray.):

1. Establish a Sense of Urgency

The first step is to establish a sense of urgency. People will not even consider change unless they are impacted on an emotional level. If change is not considered necessary, leadership expert John Kotter of Harvard writes, they “will find a thousand ingenious ways to withhold cooperation.”

There must be a perceived problem, or need, that is generating a certain amount of emotional energy. For the change agent, or agents, one of the keys to this is passion: if you do not seem to care, they will not bother to care.

Note that this is more than simply articulating the logic of a particular set of actions. People must be communicated with on an emotional level. There must be a sense of urgency. The Bible reminds us that we are transformed through the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2). So whatever the change may be, be sure to convey what the stakes are, and why the change is so important.

For example, why should anyone contemplate evaluating a weekend service in light of its effectiveness at communicating the truth of Christ to a lost person? If they do not perceive that lost people matter or that they are being reached quite well through current approaches, then any change that might be suggested will die at the starting gate.

Leaders who want change must communicate the importance of those who are apart from Christ and the exact state of the church’s current effectiveness in reaching them. It is up to the leader to say: “We will stand before God one day and give an account for our lives. And this generation of Christians is responsible for this generation of non-Christians. And God will ask, ‘Did you do all that you could? Did you match the intensity and fervor I brought to the cross?'”

People must be brought to the point where they view the lack of change as a tragedy; where they don’t simply embrace change but cry out for it.

2. Develop and Cast a Compelling Vision

The second step has to do with developing and casting a compelling vision. Where is this change going to take us? What will it mean for us? What difference will it make? Paint the picture for people of what the change will actually do.

Vision is nothing less than the language of leadership. It points the way, it motivates people to take the steps needed to get there, and it coordinates the actions of all involved. At its best, it paints a simple but compelling picture of a better tomorrow in ways that appeal to everyone’s interests. This has to be more than a single motivational talk. In reality, not only does vision “leak,” but it gets lost in the competing noise for attention.

Consider a business example. I once read that the total amount of communication going to the typical employee in an American company in a three-month period is 2,300,000 words or numbers. The typical communication of a change vision over the same period has been calculated at 13,400 words or numbers (the equivalent of a single 30-minute speech, coupled with a one-hour long meeting, a 600-word article in the firm’s newspaper, and a 2,000-word memo). Thus the change vision only captures .58 percent of the communication competing for the average employee’s attention.

This is akin to a gallon of information dumped into a river of dialogue.

Vision must be repeated over and over again. When you are sick of hearing it, and the core change agents with you, then you might be approaching some degree of connecting with the group at large. The point is that one message, or even one cluster of messages, simply isn’t enough. People’s grasp of the vision fades fast, and it must be continually cast. And not simply to one group, but to all groups. And in all settings: to committees, boards, ministries; during weekend services; over lunches and breakfasts; through articles, stories, facts, statistics; and one-on-one sessions. Simple, to the point, tied to the values behind the change – but over and over again.

You cannot over-communicate.

3. Implement the Change

The third step, after the vision casting eventually pays off in consensus and approval with the various groups in the church, is to begin implementing the change.

4. Give Updates on the Change

The final step is to make sure you let everyone know how the change is going. Be sure to give progress reports. The war is not won simply with implementation. The question then becomes whether or not the change should be maintained. Rick Warren has written from many years of experience that, “Vision and purpose must be restated every 26 days to keep the church moving in the right direction.”

Whether monthly is too much or too little, it must certainly be ongoing. So let people know what is happening. Talk about successes and breakthroughs. Let people see, and feel, the benefits that are flowing from the change.

As you work through these four steps, keep in mind one of the most important principles related to change a leader can learn: change takes time. There’s a saying that when it comes to change, don’t overestimate what you can do in a year, but don’t underestimate what you can do in ten.

You may have heard the old analogy about turning a ship around in a harbor. The bigger it is, the further you have to go out to sea to bring it around in a different direction. This is important, because a lack of patience has caused many church leaders to get into trouble that was all too easy to avoid. As change agents, they get in a hurry and begin implementing changes that people simply weren’t signed on to, much less emotionally prepared to experience. This leads to resistance.

But if you carefully – and patiently – work the four steps, a remarkable thing will take place.

Change.

> Read more from James.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James Emery White

James Emery White

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. He is the founder of Serious Times and this blog was originally posted at his website www.churchandculture.org.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Christinah Facing the dilema in church planting has just given me sleepless nights with headache in this small town in Swaziland Southern Africa. The model we used is not working. People around are shunning our services. I do not feel like quitting, but some of my team members are discouraged now.
 
— Tau Kutloano Christinah
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.
 
— Linda Speaks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> We are experiencing our church closing at the end of the month. We are all heart broken and agree that this is the best church family we've ever had. I personally can say I am not used to my attendance weekly being so important. I have never been to a start up church. We needed 3 things, an associate pastor, everyone's involvement and money. I cannot believe that the best church for so many people is closing. Being g a forever optimist, I can't help but think God will intervene somehow.
 
— Linda
 

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