Healthy Pastoral Succession Establishes Vision Apart from Identity

Every organization, like the people who comprise them, goes through changes and transitions. The organization called “the church” is no different; in fact, it probably goes through more seasons of change and more types of change than almost any other type of organization.

Growth always requires change. It’s true of any living thing, and it’s true of the church. And while change for the church is necessary, many churches often change reluctantly.

In particular, one type of change in churches seems to be more daunting than most: when a senior leader – especially one with a long tenure of service – steps down.

This act of leadership transition – succession – is intricate and complex, and requires the cooperation, coordination, and communication of dozens of individuals and groups, often extending over many months.

It is not to be entered into lightly, yet many churches – even those who know succession is in the very near future – do not know when or how to start the succession conversation.

Healthy pastoral succession establishes vision apart from identity.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Leading Change, by John Kotter

Millions worldwide have read and embraced John Kotter’s ideas on change management and leadership.

From the ill-fated dot-com bubble to unprecedented M&A activity to scandal, greed, and ultimately, recession—we’ve learned that widespread and difficult change is no longer the exception. It’s the rule. Now with a new preface, this refreshed edition of the global bestseller Leading Change is more relevant than ever.

John Kotter’s now-legendary eight-step process for managing change with positive results has become the foundation for leaders and organizations across the globe. By outlining the process every organization must go through to achieve its goals, and by identifying where and how even top performers derail during the change process, Kotter provides a practical resource for leaders and managers charged with making change initiatives work. Leading Change is widely recognized as his seminal work and is an important precursor to his newer ideas on acceleration published in Harvard Business Review.

Needed more today than at any time in the past, this bestselling business book serves as both visionary guide and practical toolkit on how to approach the difficult yet crucial work of leading change in any type of organization. Reading this highly personal book is like spending a day with the world’s foremost expert on business leadership. You’re sure to walk away inspired—and armed with the tools you need to inspire others.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Vision clarity is a key factor in the healthy implementation of a leadership transition strategy.

Ministries, and the contexts in which they serve, change over time. Communities change. What was once the new development that brought young families and their children to the facility’s front door is now home to empty nesters. The neighborhood that was once Caucasian is now predominately minority. Church ministry facilities built in a rural context are now in the middle of the urban sprawl. Ministries once located in vibrant areas now watch as the neighboring buildings put vacancy signs in the front widow. Conversely, ministries that committed to stay in downtown settings are seeing resurgence as more and more people flock to city centers. As communities change over time, so do the people that make up those congregations.

Ministries with long tenured leadership are wise to invest in a process that helps them recapture their sense of what makes their church unique.

Vision refers to a picture of the future with some implicit or explicit commentary on why people should strive to create that future.

In a change process, a good vision serves three important purposes.

Clarifying the general direction for change

Vision simplifies hundreds or thousands of more detailed decisions. Second, it motivates people to take action in the right direction, even if the initial steps are personally painful. Third, it helps coordinate the actions of different people, even thousands and thousands of individuals, in a remarkably fast and efficient way.

Clarifying the direction of change is important because, more often than not, people disagree on direction, are confused, or wonder whether significant change is really necessary. An effective vision and back-up strategies help resolve these issues.

With clarity of direction, the inability to make decisions can disappear.

With clarity of direction, inappropriate projects can be identified and terminated, even if they have political support.

Facilitating major changes by motivating action

Many times, change is not necessarily in people’s short-term self-interests. The alterations called for in a sensible vision almost always involve some pain.

A good vision helps overcome this natural reluctance to do what is (often painfully) necessary by being hopeful and therefore motivating.

Aligning individuals

Aligning individuals coordinates the actions of motivated people in a remarkably efficient way.

Without a shared sense of direction, interdependent people can end up in constant conflict and nonstop meetings. With a shared vision, they can work with some degree of autonomy and yet not trip over each other.

John P. Kotter, Leading Change

A NEXT STEP

The process of pastoral transition demands vision clarity. If your church does not have this clarity as you prepare for the upcoming succession, it’s time to take a journey on the Vision Trailhead.

The Vision Trailhead is a two-hour trek designed to safely start the “where are we going” conversation with your leadership. This engaging tool will calibrate your visionary communication using challenging assessment questions and memorable church-personality profiles.

The Vision Trailhead will help your team:

  • Unpack your communication baggage in order to properly prepare for the vision journey ahead
  • Plot your “Trailhead Type” using key waypoints of missional language and church age
  • Step onto the clarity pathway with experienced trail guides cheering you onward

Download the Vision Trailhead here and provide a copy for each member of your team. Set aside 2 hours in an upcoming leadership team meeting to walk through this TeamUP tool.

Excerpted from SUMS Remix 53-1, issued November 2016


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.

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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.

4 Ways to Lead Change with Your Team

You have a meeting coming up with your team in which you need to walk them through a change at your church … how should you structure the information? The way you communicate change is a critical part of the process.

The following approaches work well as frameworks for presentations in meetings. You could also use them in any communications to your team: emails, voice memos, ebooks, etc. When you are in the middle of a “change management” process, you need to communicate information over and over … don’t get stuck in a rut! Use a variety of approaches to explain why change is critical at your church.

  • The List // Create a list of items related to what you are talking about. The order doesn’t matter, but together the items should cover the entire topic. (Clearly, we use this framework all the time at unSeminary.)
    • Helpful: When there is a wide variety of items to present. Easy for people to jump in and out of.
    • Limitations: It can feel like a “fire hose” of information that people are left to categorize on their own.
    • Examples: 6 Changes Our Church is Making to Summer Camp; 12 Reasons We’re Canceling Sunday Evening Service; 3 Tools for Inviting Your Friends Next Weekend
    • [Click to download List PowerPoint Template]
  • Chronological // Take people on a journey! Start with what happened first and then lead them through the timeline of what happened next and finally to where things are going.
    • Helpful: This approach can be particularly helpful in “change management” situations because you can show how the future is connected to where the church has already been. This will reduce some people’s anxieties.
    • Limitations: Choose the “starting point” wisely. It needs to be the agreed upon beginning to move people towards where you are headed. If you start in the wrong part of the story, you’ll lose some people.
    • Examples: How Summer Camp Has Evolved Over the Years; The Story of How People Grow at Our Church; How Bill Got Connected to Our Church
    • [Click to download Chronological PowerPoint Template]
  • Compare & Contrast // Draw out the differences between two ideas or approaches to show where you want to go.
    • Helpful: This works particularly well when people have experienced what you are comparing. Take people to a church that is excelling in one area and compare it to how your church is performing in the same area.
    • Limitations: This approach can be distracting if the comparison isn’t crystal clear because you’ll spend most of your time bringing people up to speed, rather than focusing on how it should impact your church.
    • Examples: Lessons Learned from Walt Disney World to Apply to Our Camp; A Survey of Service Times from 10 of the Fastest Growing Churches in the Country; How Chick-fil-A Grows and What that Means for Our Church
    • [Click to download Compare & Contrast PowerPoint Template]
  • Problem & Solution // Explore the problem your church is facing and then present the solution to relieve it! “Aggravating” the problem is key to this approach. People need to feel and understand the problem before they will move forward. We change when the pain of staying the same is bigger than the pain to change.
    • Helpful: Great for when the stakes are high and change needs to happen quickly. Draws a stark contrast between what is and what needs to be.
    • Limitations: Use this approach sparingly and wisely. When done effectively, people will feel the pain associated with not changing. However, sometimes that pain generates unpredictable responses in how people respond.
    • Examples: Camp Is Broken … This is How We’ll Fix It; Better Uses for Sunday Evenings at Our Church; What Happens When People Stop Inviting Friends to Church
    • [Click to download Problem & Solution PowerPoint Template]

> Read more from Rich.


Want to learn more about communicating for change? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rich Birch

Rich Birch

Thanks so much for dropping by unseminary … I hope that your able to find some resources that help you lead your church better in the coming days! I’ve been involved in church leadership for over 15 years. Early on I had the privilege of leading in one of the very first multisite churches in North Amerca. I led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 4,000 people in 6 locations. (Today they are 13 locations with somewhere over 5,000 people attending.) In addition, I served on the leadership team of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. I currently serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. I have a dual vocational background that uniquely positions me for serving churches to multiply impact. While in the marketplace, I founded a dot-com with two partners in the late 90’s that worked to increase value for media firms and internet service providers. I’m married to Christine and we live in Scotch Plains, NJ with their two children and one dog.

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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.

The Only Problem with Incremental Change is that it Brings Incremental Results

So you want to bring about change but you’re afraid of the pushback that you know the change will create?

Totally understand that.

So you’re tempted to do what many leaders have done. Instead of bringing about the deep or radical change you know needs to happen, you decide to introduce change incrementally.

  • Rather than remove the furniture you know needs to go, you move it an inch a week, hoping nobody will notice.
  • Rather than fire the poor performer, you transfer him to a new position and hope one day he’ll leave.
  • Rather than kill the programs that need to go, you add a few new ones instead and skirt the real issue.
  • Rather than make all the changes you know need to be made, you create a 10 year time line, thinking that people will better accept the change the longer you delay.

Sound familiar? What’s wrong with this picture?

More than a few things actually.

The problem with incremental change…

…is that it brings incremental results.

If you want incremental results, then embrace incremental change.

The reality is that most leaders don’t want incremental results. You dream of significant results.  Of radically different results.

Yet for some reason too many leaders fall for the leadership lie that incremental change will usher in radically different results.

It won’t.

Radical change brings the potential for radical results.

Incremental change never does.

Why Do Leaders Fall For This?

Why do you as a leader talk yourself into believing that incremental change will produce the results you’re looking for?

There are at least three reasons:

1. You fear people’s reaction to significant change

You’ve seen other leaders get crucified for ushering in change. And you don’t want that to be you.

Fear is one of the main reasons change isn’t happening fast enough in the church or in many organizations today.

Personally, I think it would be a terrible thing to stand before God one day and explain that the main reason you didn’t do what you were called to do is because you were afraid.

Do you really want fear to be your final epitaph as a leader? Or would you rather go down trying?

Personally, I’d rather die trying.

2. Past opposition to change

You tried change once, and it failed.

Well, awesome. You also had a bad meal once, but you didn’t stop eating.

Why is it leaders shy away from change once they’ve had any opposition to it?

Maybe the change itself isn’t the problem. Maybe your strategy is the problem.

This is why I outlined 5 specific strategies to lead change in the face of opposition in my book Leading Change Without Losing It.  And why I’m so passionate about helping leaders navigate change.

Just because you failed at leading change once doesn’t mean you’ll fail forever.

Get a new strategy. What’s at stake is far too important not to.

3. Belief that progress should come without pain

Now we get closer to the heart of the matter. Many leaders secretly wish progress came without pain.

Progress almost never comes without pain.

Significant things are rarely accomplished without significant struggle. Our heroes are always people who suffered to bring about a better end. Part of us wants to live like that, and part of us doesn’t.

The leadership question is whether you’re willing to endure pain for the sake of a better future.

Real leaders say yes to that. They honestly do.

So…if you want significantly different results, push past the fear and stop thinking incrementally.

Incremental change brings about incremental results. Now you know what you’re dealing with.

What are you learning about change?


Are you ready for change that brings significant results? Learn more about getting things done with Auxano’s Execution services.

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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
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.

The Single Most Important Factor of Leading Change in a Resistant Setting

I speak about change regularly. And you deal with change almost every week, if not every day.

The #1 question/conversation that comes up after one of my talks goes something like this:

Well, that’s great that you could lead change where you are. But you need to understand my context. My church is so (fill in the blanks here) old…traditional…resistant that I don’t know where to start. Sometimes I think it’s impossible. Is it?

I love that question.

One of the great consistencies in almost two decades of church leadership for me, is change.

We’ve changed everything, moving from three very traditional, dying mainline churches to a vibrant church that’s reaching unchurched people. And in between, everything has changed: our locations, our structure, our worship, our governance, our team and even our denominational affiliation.

So…is a church or organization ever too old, resistant or traditional to change?

My answer is that change is possible anywhere. That actually, it’s necessary. And at a bare minimum, change is worth the best shot you’ve got.

So is there a secret ingredient that can help you lead change in a traditional context far more effectively?

I think there is.

Before I share it, a few nuances for all of us.

First, Let’s Check Our Excuses

The grass is almost always greener on the other side of the leadership fence.

When it comes to change, most of us think it would be easier if we lead at another church or in another organization.

The reality is that ALL of us will struggle to lead change wherever we are.

As enthusiastic as we say we are about change, all of us resist it. That’s why you haven’t lost that final 10 pounds, haven’t cleaned out the hall closet nearly as often as you should, and haven’t started that blog you were going to launch/book you were going to write. All of that involves change, and we’re resistant.

Too many of us make too many excuses.

I wrote pretty directly about getting past your excuses in this post and again recently as one of the lessons from the collapse of Mars Hill Church.

So don’t think you’re ‘special’, that the ‘rules don’t apply’ to your church or that other people who successfully led change ‘had it easier’. They probably didn’t.

If you go in with an excuse mindset, you’ve set yourself up to fail.

So park your excuses if you want to lead change.

And For Sure, Leading Change Isn’t Just About Mastering “One Thing”

There isn’t just ‘one thing’ that will help you lead change. Leading change is complex.

In my book, Leading Change Without Losing It, I outline 5 strategies that can help you overcome the inevitable opposition you’ll face when you lead change (I also tell the story of how we changed in the book).

But it can be done. Ron Edmondson recently led a traditional, plateaued church from 1000 in attendance to over double that in less than two years. He outlines his approach here.

But there is one thing that has helped me more than anything else in almost 20 years of leading change. And by ‘helped me’ I don’t just mean helping me lead others, I mean it’s also helped me stay motivated myself.

What is it?

Focus On The Why

You likely know this already, but it’s so easy to forget in the heat of the moment. Or to think you’ve said it once and don’t need to say it again.

Here’s the one thing that’s helped me more than anything else I’ve done in leading change in what started out as a very traditional setting, and can help you lead change in the most stubborn, resistant and traditional settings:

Focus on the why. Not on the what and the how.

There are really only three issues that come up around any leadership table.

> What are going to do?

> How are we going to do it?

> Why are we doing it?

Most leaders intuitively focus on the what and the how, neglecting the why.

That’s the mistake. And here’s why that’s a bad idea.

What and how are inherently divisive.

Why unites people. 

People usually disagree on what. You like a certain style of music. Someone else likes another. You want to paint a room grey, someone else likes taupe. You prefer earlier services, someone else thinks evening is best. You think you should spend the money. Others disagree.

How is often just as divisive. As soon as the discuss starts, people start asking: So how are we going to pay for this? How are we going to get people on board? How are we sure this will work? How long will this take? 

That’s why effective leaders consistently refocus the conversation on why. Why are we proposing these changes?

> Because this isn’t about us.

> Because we imagine a church that our kids and grandkids want to come to.

> Because we want to be a church our friends love to attend.

> Because we want to be a place where people who don’t feel welcome today feel welcome tomorrow.

> Because we love Christ and the world for which he died.

> Because we have a passion for those who don’t yet know Christ.

> Because our current methods aren’t optimally helping us accomplish our mission. 

It’s hard to disagree with statements like these, isn’t it?

Why appeals to the best in people.

Consequently, when you focus on why, you bring out the best in people.

After all, most people are part of your church because at some point, they decided to give their lives to Christ and be part of a cause that’s bigger than themselves. Your job is to remind them (and yourself) of this daily.

Leaders who relentlessly refocus on the why are always the most effective leaders.

If the entire group gets focused on the why, the what and the how have a way of working themselves out far more easily because why motivates.

When people agree on the why, the conversation starts to sound more like this:

  • Well I might not like it personally, but it is the most sensible approach. Let’s go for it.
  • We’ll find the money somewhere.
  • Let’s give it a try. I’ll put my objections aside.
  • I feel like there’s a future again!

Will you get some opposition, you bet? But, as I outline in my book, likely no more than 10% of people will be opposed and you can leverage a strategy for handling that.

And if a few people leave…let them go. They can always find another church they can go to. The people you’ll reach will likely far outweigh the people you lose.

What’s the single best way to navigate change in a traditional, old or very resistant setting? Focus on why far more than you focus on what and how. 

What are you learning about leading change in a traditional or resistant context?

>> 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.

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.

13 Key Principles to Help You Navigate Change in Your Church

You’re probably trying to change something right now.

And — if you’re honest — you’ve already thought about backing off.

Change seems too difficult.

You’ve watched friends get hurt trying to lead similar change.

You’ve heard the voices of opposition get a little louder.

You really don’t want to be afraid to open your inbox every morning.

But what if this is true?

Change is harder than it needs to be because it’s more mysterious than it needs to be.

And it doesn’t need to be quite that mysterious.

Here’s what I believe about change.

Change has dynamics; and the dynamics can be learned.

A couple years ago,  I wrote a book about leading change while facing opposition. I’m passionate about change because I’ve lived through it and can vouch for the fact that change is more than possible.

I’m also passionate because if the church (and other organizations) are going to reach their potential, change isn’t optional, it’s inevitable.

So, if you’re navigating change, here’s a short cheat sheet of 13 key principles that I hope will help you maintain clear thinking amidst the sea of emotions that leading change brings:

1. People aren’t opposed to change nearly as much as they are opposed to change they didn’t think of.

Everybody’s in favour of their ideas, but most organizational change is driven by leadership.

All real change is.

So you just need to realize that most people will come on board.

You just need to give them time until a leader’s idea spreads widely enough to be owned. And by the way, great ideas eventually resonate.

2. Change is hard because people crave what they already like. 

You have never craved a food you hadn’t tried, and change operates on a similar dynamic.

Your people want what they’ve seen because people never crave what they haven’t seen.

That’s why vision is so key – you need to paint a clear enough picture that people begin to crave a future they haven’t lived.

3. Leaders crave change more than most people do because they’re, well, leaders. 

Your passion level is always going to be naturally and appropriately higher than most people’s when it comes to change.

Just know that’s how you’re wired and don’t get discouraged too quickly if your passion for change is higher than others. You’re the leader.

4. Most of the disagreement around change happens at the strategy level. 

Most leaders stop at aligning people around a common mission and vision, but you also need to work hard at aligning people around a common strategy.

It’s one thing to agree that you passionately love God, it’s another to create a cutting edge church that unchurched people flock to.

One depends on vision; the other is a re-engineering around a common strategy. When people are aligned around a common mission, vision and strategy, so much more becomes possible.

5. Usually no more than 10% of the people you lead are opposed to change. 

Okay, maybe it goes to 30% at the high water mark.

But are you really going to sacrifice the majority and the future for the sake of a small group of opposition?

(I spend a good chunk of my latest book dissecting this principle…I promise you, the final analysis is good news for leaders.)

6. Loud does not equal large.

 Just because the opponents of change are loud doesn’t mean they’re a large group.

The most opposed people make the most noise.

Don’t make the mistake most leaders make when they assume large = loud. Almost every time, it doesn’t. (See Principle 5 above.)

7. Most people opposed to change do not have a clearly articulated vision of a preferred future.

They just want to go back to Egypt.

And you can’t build a better future on a vision of the past. Remember that when they tell you about how good things used to be.

8. Fear of opposition derails more leaders than actual opposition. 

You will spend a ton of time living through your fears.

Courage isn’t the absence of fear; it’s the determination to lead through your fears.

By the way, this does wonders for your faith.

9. Buy-in happens most fully when people understand why, rather than what or how. 

What and how are inherently divisive.

Someone’s always got a better, cheaper, more expensive, faster, shorter, longer way to do what you’re proposing. So focus on why when you’re communicating.

Why reminds us how why we got into this in the first place. And why motivates.

Always start with why, finish with why and pepper all communication with why.

10. Unimplemented change will always become relief or regret. 

One day, you’ll be so glad you did. Or you’ll wish you had. Remember that.

11. Incremental change brings about incremental results. 

You’ll be tempted to compromise and reduce vision to the lowest common denominator: incremental change.

Just know that incremental change brings incremental results. And incrementalism inspires no one.

12. Transformation happens when the change in question becomes part of the culture. 

You won’t transform an organization until people no longer want to go back to the way it was.

You can change some things in a year and almost everything in 5 years. But transformation happens when people own the changes.

That’s often 5-7 years; only then do most people not want to go back to Egypt.

13. The greatest enemy of your future success is your current success.

Successful organizations create a culture of change because they realize that success tempts you to risk nothing until decline forces you to reexamine everything.

Keep changing.

I hope these 13 principles can keep you focused on a few of the toughest dynamics associated with 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
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)
 

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