6 10 2014

Bridgebuilding churches find their culture, paradigms, and methods changing.   When this becomes obvious, resistance sets in.  Ron Edmondson provides excellent insight as to the dynamics of peoples’ resistance to change. – STEVE

The Biggest Reason People Resist Change

The Biggest Reason People Resist Change
Understanding this reason can help navigate through change. Ignoring it makes the process of change miserable for everyone.

After years of leading change, I’ve discovered some things about the process. One of those discoveries is that change will face resistance. All change.

Surprised by that revelation? Not if you’ve ever led change.

If the change has any value at all, someone will not agree—at least initially.

There is something in all of us that initially resists change we didn’t initiate.

And I’ve discovered the absolute most common reason change is resisted. I mean the biggest.

Would that be helpful to know?

I would say it is true the majority of the time when change is resisted.

Understanding this reason can help navigate through change. Ignoring it makes the process of change miserable for everyone.

What’s the most common reason change is resisted?

It’s an emotion they feel. They may not even be able to describe it, but it’s more powerful at the time than the excitement the change may bring.

What’s the emotion? You may think anger, or confusion, or fear. And while those are often true emotions of change, in my observation it isn’t the most common. I recently wrote 7 Emotions of Change, and it isn’t one of them. I was saving the biggie for this post, because all the others are often products of this one.

The most common emotion that causes resistance to change:

A sense of loss.

People emotionally feel a sense of loss in the process of change.

Have you ever felt like you were losing or had lost something?

How did you react? Didn’t you try to hold on to whatever you were losing?

It’s not a good-feeling emotion.

  • Loss of power
  • Loss of comfort
  • Loss of control
  • Loss of information
  • Loss of familiarity
  • Loss of tradition
  • Loss of stability

They aren’t always rational emotions. They are often perceived as bigger than they really are.

But they are real emotions to the person experiencing the emotion of loss.

It doesn’t matter if people know the change is needed. They often feel they may be losing something in the change—and it causes them to resist the change.

And because change is—well—change, their emotions are based on some truth. Things are changing.

I have found, as a leader, that if I understand what people are struggling with, I’m better prepared to lead them through it. Some people are never going to get on board with the change, but many times people just need someone to at least acknowledge their sense of loss. It doesn’t eliminate the emotion, but genuine empathy allows me to keep leading.

When a leader discounts a person’s emotions—or ignores them—the resistance becomes more intense, because the emotions become more intense. That’s when some of those other emotions—like anger—are often added. The process of change is stalled, sometimes even derailed.

Leader, are you paying attention to the emotions of change?


13 10 2013

800px-Change1BY STEVE DUNN

Many churches subscribe the concept that they need to be building redemptive relationships with the unchurched in their community.  Whether it is out a church growth motivation – more people to carry out the church’s mission; or evangelistic passion–lost people matter to God, they make commitments and plans to build bridges out into the community to connect with those who are in the area of mission.

But there is a price to building such bridges.  It is a change in the church itself.  Not only will there be new people to deal with and new needs to be met; but churches will find that they must make some significant shifts in their culture and they way they do ministry if they are truly to reach people who up until now have note given them the time of day.

In our work with these churches, especially those who are  successful in truly reaching their unchurched neighbors, here are some of the changes that occur:

 Maintenance to Mission

Inward-focus to outward-focused

Gaining decisions to making disciples

Members of an organization to disciples of the Risen Lord

Attractional to incarnational

Safe to sacrificial servants

Clergy-focused to the Priesthood of All Believers

Tasks and Jobs to Spiritual Gifts

One day a week to 24/7

Going to church to being the church

Human led to Holy Spirit led

Is there anything on that list that troubles you?  Is there anything on that listen that might create conflict in your church?  The answer to the last question is, “EVERYTHING on the list.”

What are your thoughts on these changes?

This list comes from THE BRIDGBUILDERS PRINCIPLE by Stephen L Dunn (C) 2013


14 05 2013

From Outreach Magazine ….


There’s a lot of discussion that goes on about church growth: what causes it; how to generate it; prepare for it; launch it; build it; cultivate it and even, to some degree, manufacture it. Many of the discussions are helpful, but there are a number of subtle beliefs that still creep up that aren’t healthy. In fact, they’re downright superstitious and, at times, dangerous to the church.

I’ve collected these myths over many conversations, coffees and lunches with church leaders and I’d like to share them with you.


10 Old Wives’ Tales About Church Growth


1. If You’re Not Growing, Something’s Wrong


If growth and a bigger crowd is “always” the result of obedience then some of the OT prophets will have some serious explaining to do.


Of course, if you’re not growing—or you’re declining—I think it is cause to evaluate what you’re doing, but it’s not a given that something is always “wrong.”


God could be doing something different—more Jeremiah and less Peter.


Also, while we’re at it, let’s stop using the Acts 2 passage as a normative prescription for every church today. It’s an amazing description of something special God was doing in history to launch his church, but it’s not a church growth manual. A casual reading of the NT will show churches of all different shapes and sizes, and never once is there a declarative statement that the church should be growing faster than it was—more obedience, yes; helping the poor, yes; staying true to the Gospel, yes; practicing the Lord’s Supper and baptism, yes.


2. The More You Grow, the Healthier You Are


We would love to believe this one. It certainly feels good to have a bigger crowd. There’s a built-in justification for ministry leaders when more people show up, I know. However, just because your church has more people attending doesn’t mean your church is completely healthy. In fact, it might be cause to closely evaluate the message the crowd is hearing.


Growth can be healthy, and it can be a very good thing—it’s just not an automatic four-stars for healthy spirituality. Large numbers are no more an indicator of health than great wealth is an automatic indicator of wisdom. You can be wealthy or impoverished and still be wise or a fool. The same goes for church growth. You can have a lot of people or a little and still be healthy/unhealthy. Health deals more with what’s going on below the surface. Growth tells us something’s going on, but whether it’s good or bad, that’s another issue.    READ MORE …