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


15 11 2012

Charles Stone has an excellent blog on church leadership. I would urge you to go to it and consider subscribing if you are serious about being a Bridgebuilding Church.

Wise leaders carefully manage church change. Healthy church management includes not just the bird’s eye view (big picture implications) but also considers the individual view, what’s going on inside the individual church member or leader when you, as the leader, present change. Neuroscience offers helpful insight about unconscious processes that go on inside our brains when people face change. Consider these insights and suggestions the next time you plan change for your church.

People appreciate certainty and autonomy because the brain craves both. David Rock, one of the leader proponents of applying neuroscience to leadership (neuroleadership) suggests an acrostic called SCARF that represents five essential brain processes that influence motivation and change management. See my blog here that explains SCARF. The ‘c’ and the ‘a’ stand for certainty and autonomy. I’ve listed 5 insights below that relate these two components to change management.

  1. People naturally assume the worst. Our brain is actually wired to pick up threats and negative possibilities around us more than the positive. 2/3 of our brain cells in the flight-fight part of our brain, the amygdala, are wired to pick up on the negative.
  2. People naturally fill in knowledge gaps with fear. Uncertainty about the future (and change) breeds this fear.
  3. Ambiguity creates more fear than measured risk. That is, the more people have to fill in the knowledge gaps, the greater the fear about and resistance to change. Measured risk, however, fills in some of those gaps and lessens anxiety.
  4. Undoing a wrong impression is harder than creating a good impression. It’s the old adage “you don’t have a second chance to make a good first impression.” That’s not just a quaint saying. Neuroscientists have shown it to be true.
  5. People understate their ability to ride out difficult future events. Uncertainty causes us to poorly forecast how well we can face difficulty. The term is “affective forecasting.” When you present change, people will initially assume that the church will come out worse than expected, although the opposite is often true.
  6. Emotions play a very important part in decision making. Just presenting the facts is seldom enough to move people forward.

So, in light of these insights, what are some positive steps you can take to most effectively manage church change?

  1. Build in small, short-term wins along the way. These wins will give a greater sense of certainty. Remember, people (and their brains) love certainty.
  2. Fill in the knowledge gaps with truth. In other words, communicate, communicate, communicate. Keep people in the loop about your progress with the change initiative.
  3. Provide a feedback loop. Give people in your church a real, tangible way they can give feedback to you about the process. Simply knowing they have that ability to communicate to you and that you are really listening will decrease their anxiety about the future.
  4. Within reason, provide people small ways they can choose about how the change will look. Although the leadership will have decided the big picture change, providing options and opportunity for people to hone what those changes within the big change will look like increases autonomy. Remember, people love autonomy.
  5. Fill in knowledge gaps with Faith. Preach and teach on faith. Keep verses like Hebrews 11.1 often before the people.

Heb. 11.1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (NLT)

What have you done that has helped smooth church change?

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