Many ministries have not kept up with the changes in today's world. This includes many churches but it is especially true in the mission world where I work. In many organizations radical change is needed.

A common response when faced with the need to change is to start tweaking the current paradigm. Tweaking is "fear based change." We are so afraid to rock the boat significantly that we hope we can tweak our way out of our predicament. It never works. Change requires new paradigms in how we think and new ways of delivering on our mission. Furthermore, talking change but making tweaks tells the whole staff that leadership is not truly committed to change so they can keep their heads down and continue to do what they have always done.

A similar response is that of incremental change. Going in the right direction but slowly. At the pace of change in our world today, those who move slowly will find themselves in the same place they currently are as change in our environment outpaces our ability to respond.

Another observation. Ministries are often unwilling to bring in an outside facilitator to help in the change process or to bring in new leadership from the outside. The sub culture they have created is not friendly to those coming from the outside with new ideas and new ways of thinking. This is an absolute killer of any real change because it leaves one locked into the very culture that must change if the organization is going to change. I am watching several ministry organizations right now wrestling with needed changes but until they bring in someone from outside their insular culture there is no chance that it will happen.

Often the leaders who brought an organization to where it is today cannot take it to where it needs to go tomorrow. But until boards and current leaders face that reality they will not move forward. Sometimes courageous choices need to be made and leadership or board changes need to take place if we want to re-invision the organization for its next run. Remember that while we always honor people, our stewardship of the ministry requires us to do the right thing for the ministry even if it means changes in staff. That is the real world. Do it graciously but don't be afraid to do it.

The issue of leadership courage is huge in change. Leading change is a tough business. People resist, some get nasty, change is messy, personnel changes must take place which can be hard, arrows come! It is the nature of change. Organizations that desire to change but who don't have a leader who can effectively lead the change will lose. In addition that leader must be able to articulate the new realities and vision so that people have clarity on where they are going even if they don't like the white waters of change.

If you know your organization needs significant change ask yourself these questions. Do we have clarity on what the future should look like? Do we have a leader who can take us there? Do we need to bring key staff in from the outside? Do we have the courage to let people go who no longer fit? Do we have the resolve to see this through? Are we willing to make radical paradigm shifts to get us to where we need to be?
  • Sep 30, 2011
  • Category: News
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