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.

 


 

Want to learn more about organizational change? Connect with an Auxano Navigator.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Execution >

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.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.