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Leading Congregational Change: A Practical Guide for the Transformational Journey

Overview

A Leadership Network Publication

With this much-needed handbook, the authors brilliantly combine their experience guiding dozens of churches through the change process with both the study of Christian disciplines and the sophisticated understanding of such important business thinkers as John Kotter on leading change and Peter Senge on learning organizations. In this eminently readable book the authors have distilled their insights and practices into simple but powerful concepts ...

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Overview

A Leadership Network Publication

With this much-needed handbook, the authors brilliantly combine their experience guiding dozens of churches through the change process with both the study of Christian disciplines and the sophisticated understanding of such important business thinkers as John Kotter on leading change and Peter Senge on learning organizations. In this eminently readable book the authors have distilled their insights and practices into simple but powerful concepts for leading congregations, whether long established or recently formed, through profound change.

Leaders using this guide will also be interested in the companion Leading Congregational Change Workbook, which offers assessment questions, planning worksheets, activities, and case examples for each stage of the process.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Leading a church to change from being tradition- or program-driven to being purpose-driven is a task filled with all kinds of potentially explosive and divisive issues. This is a book you ought to read before you change anything." (Rick Warren, author, The Purpose-Driven Church)

"This is a landmark book for churches and change. Effecting change is never easy in congregations. Leading Congregational Change is a practical guide for congregational leaders that includes spiritual wisdom and its application from the best thinkers of our day." (Bob Buford, founding chairman, Leadership Network)

"This book spotlights the universal principles for navigating the rapids of change between chaplaincy and mission. Identifying the simplicity-within the complexity-of this challenging leadership role, pastors and leaders learn how to go from hopeful to possible." (Herb Miller, editor, The Parish Paper)

"A creative and helpful guide for assisting congregations through the necessary process of change by weaving together firm biblical foundations, the best of what's available from the social sciences, and insightful examples from the years of experience the authors have had in working with churches." (Craig Van Gelder, professor of congregational mission, Luther Seminary, ELCA)

"Leaders will appreciate the insight of these three writers." (The Clergy Journal, 1/02)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780787947651
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/28/2000
  • Series: Jossey-Bass Leadership Network Series , #9
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.24 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

JIM HERRINGTON is executive director of Mission Houston, an interdenominational, multicultural pastoral effort to transform the city of Houston. MIKE BONEM is president and cofounder of Kingdom Transformation Partners, a church consulting and training firm based in Houston. JAMES H. FURR is senior church consultant with Union Baptist Association and adjunct professor of sociology at Houston Baptist University.
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Table of Contents

Preface.

Acknowledgments.

Learning to Lead Change: A Transformational Journey.

Spiritual and Relational Vitality: The Driving Force in Congregational Change.

Laying the Groundwork for Change.

Discerning and Communicating the Vision.

Achieving and Maintaining Widespread Impact.

The Disciplines of Transformational Leadership.

Discipline One: Generating and Sustaining Creative Tension.

Discipline Two: Harnessing the Power of Mental Models.

Discipline Three: Enabling Team Learning.

Discipline Four: Practicing Systems Thinking.

The Art of Transformational Leadership.

Resource: An Annotated Bibliography of Useful Publications.

References.

The Authors.

About Leadership Network.

Index.

Leading Congregational Change Workbook.

About This Workbook.

VITALITY AND LEARNING DISCIPLINES.

Spiritual and Relational Vitality: The Driving Force of Transformational Change.

Discipline One: Generating and Sustaining Creative Tension.

Discipline Two: Harnessing the Power of Mental Models.

Discipline Three: Enabling Team Learning.

Discipline Four: Practicing Systems Thinking.

THE EIGHT-STAGE CHANGE PROCESS.

Stage One: Making Personal Preparation.

Stage Two: Creating Urgency.

Stage Three: Establishing the Vision Community.

Stage Four: Discerning the Vision and Determining the Visionpath.

Stage Five: Communicating the Vision.

Stage Six: Empowering Change Leaders.

Stage Seven: Implementing the Vision.

Stage Eight: Reinforcing Momentum through Alignment.

Resource A: Resource Organizations.

Resource B: An Annotated Bibliography of Useful Publications.

Resource C: Questionnaires, Inventories, and Other Data-Gathering Resources.

Resource D: Congregational Bodylife Model.

Resource E: Congregational Self-Assessment.

References.

The Authors.

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First Chapter

Learning to Lead Change
A Transformational Journey



Many Christian congregations in America today need to experience life-giving transformation. If the need is so compelling, why are these congregations not embracing and initiating change? In fact, many have attempted to make adjustments. But their efforts often run into resistance or produce marginal results. When this happens, they may conclude that "we can't change--we'll just have to make the best of it."

Two Defining Moments: Catalysts for Change

Our story begins in the fall of 1989. The UBA staff team experienced two clarifying moments that set the course for a decade of learning about change leadership. The previous spring, I (Jim Herrington) was called to serve as the director of this association of five hundred Southern Baptist churches in the Houston area. The two colleagues who coauthor this book joined the team almost immediately. James Furr became a member of the staff team, serving as a consultant to local congregations. Mike Bonem served as my personal consultant in the effort to clarify UBA's mission and vision for the future.

A Fresh Look at the Trends

The first defining moment grew out of a statistical analysis. James profiled the membership, attendance, and giving trends for all our churches as a group from 1950 through 1989. The graphs reflected generally positive growth in all the categories. My immediate response to this picture was "This looks good. We've done well over the past forty years."

Feedback from the Front Lines

Determined to discover the causes of this trend, we convened a series of seventeen listening sessions with pastors around the city. This produced the second defining moment. A total of 176 pastors participated. They represented congregations of all sizes, of the inner city and the suburbs, and of eight different cultures.

Changing Our Association Before We Could Help Others

These two defining moments produced a sense of urgency that drove us to prayer, to dialogue, and to a commitment to learn. (See Chapter Three about the role of creating urgency in successful change processes.) We readily acknowledged that we were guilty of offering only standardized, denominational programs. And it was clear that the results of these programs were overwhelmed by the scope of the need in our city. The only conclusion was that the association would need to make radical changes.

UBA's vision is healthy congregations changing the world from the inside out.

Understanding the Dynamics of Change

The pursuit of God's vision for UBA led us first to assess the planning processes that congregations were using. At that time, our denomination used a long-range planning process that was based on a set of standard programs. Churches assessed the strength of their existing programs, without ever asking whether these were the right programs. They followed this assessment by setting goals for increased participation in each area. The message from our pastors, however, was that standardized programming was no longer effective.

Emergence of the First Part of the Model

In the spring of 1991, UBA team member Robert Sowell initiated a pilot project to test the impact of a different planning process. This strategic planning process differed from long-range planning in several critical ways. (The planning process for change that ultimately emerged is described in Chapters Three through Five.) Ideally, it began with a thorough assessment that included internal measures--attendance, giving, membership. But it also required congregations to assess external factors, such as demographic trends and community needs. successful experience. Hoi Thanh Tin Lanh Baptist Vietnam, pastored by Khanh Huynh, experienced significant long-term growth. From a congregation of approximately forty members, it is now a healthy, vibrant congregation with an average attendance of three hundred fifty that is making a significant impact in the Vietnamese community of Houston and beyond.

Learning from Conflict

In retrospect, this conflict should not have been surprising. It paralleled what was happening in our association. As we used the strategic planning process and pursued the vision for the association, the old ways of doing things were challenged. This resulted in an accelerating level of conflict. As new financial resources became available, they were budgeted, almost exclusively, to the new priorities identified in our planning. This threatened those who had a vested interest in the way we had always done things. We experienced passive and direct resistance from some staff members and from pastors in the association. Usually the conflict was behind the scenes, but more than once our deployment of resources to the new priorities was challenged in open meetings.

Emergence of the Second Part of the Model

Heavily influenced by Blackaby and King, we began to refer to strategic planning as the work a congregation does to (1) identify the activity of God and (2) make the personal and congregational adjustments needed to join him in that activity. As we framed it in that language, the second part of our transformation model began to emerge.

Learning Why the Change Process Stalled:
The Third Part of the Model

Five years into this journey, numerous congregations had embraced the change process with spiritual and relational vitality at its core. Working with consultants from the UBA team, congregations began to make progress--incremental at first, but more substantial over time. Then the final piece of learning emerged.

The Congregational Transformation Model

The Congregational Transformation Model, which emerged from the experiences we've described, is shown in Figure 1.1. This model was designed to describe a complex set of challenges, steps, and leadership requirements that are associated with a deep, systemic change effort in an established congregation. The principles on which the model is based are also applicable to a new church start-up, a ministry within a church, judicatories, and parachurch organizations. The model has three major interdependent and interactive components: spiritual and relational vitality, an eight-stage process for change, and four essential learning disciplines. Each component is introduced in this chapter and explained in detail in the chapters that follow.

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