Leading Through Change

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This is the first post in a series from Bryan Mowrey about leading a church through transition.

We have three kids and every time we take them to the doctor, the first thing he does is measure the amount change that has occurred since the last visit. Are they taller? Is their speech different? Have their motor skills improved? The doctor (in most cases) gets concerned not when there is change, but when there isn’t change. Leaders are the same way. Leaders understand the gravitational pull is inward; therefore, are on the look out to disrupt the status quo so that progress is possible. That’s why Bill Hybels has said, “the first step in moving people along in a God-given vision is to make ‘here’ sound horrific and intolerable. You must build a strong case for why we cannot stay put and why it would be disastrous if we did.”

Warning signs?

While all leaders understand that change is inevitable, we all get sucked into the status quo. Here are four warning signs (like a check engine light) that alert me when I’ve started to fight against change.

  1. I talk about the cost of change before I talk about the benefits
  2. I’m defensive and somewhat delusional about how good things really are
  3. I critique and undercut the credibility of someone else who is for the change
  4. I focus on the pain of a few versus the benefit of the many

Are there any warning signs in your leadership?

Next steps

Now, once you have embraced that healthy things are going to change and evolve, and you figure out you’re going to be an agent of change, how do you actually lead change? In my youthful years, I saw everything as black and white/right and wrong and I walked around with a sword ready to chop anything that was impeding the forward movement of the church. However, I quickly realized that I can either be this idealistic agent of change or I can keep my job. I discovered I could win the battle but lose the war. Surgery could be successful but I could still kill the patient. I could go on an on with analogies but the point is that not everyone likes change and while the official government of the church that I lead is elder led, people still vote. They vote with their attendance, their wallet, their participation and their energy. I think that’s mostly a good thing because it keeps me humble. Keeps me from forgetting that my call to shepherd is not just for the well-disposition missional sheep, but it’s out on the edges with the ones that are always trying to get away and then bite when you try to help them.

Check back soon for the second part of this post!

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Confluence is a place where the reformed, the charismatic, and the mission-minded converge to equip and serve the church to transform communities. Our authors are mostly leaders in the Newfrontiers family of churches.

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