August 24, 2016

Deep Change or Slow Death

For this week’s Whiteboard Wednesday, we have Rick Veenstra, the Regional Executive / Leadership Development Catalyst for the Great Lakes Region share with us today on how to make deep and impactful changes in our Church organizations.

Christian churches, like many other organizations in the United States, have essentially two options: We can either engage in deep transformative change, or move towards slow death. As Christian leaders, it is obvious to choose transformative change when it comes to leading a congregation. So today, we will discuss the matter of how to go about leading and creating change.

The first thing to do is to establish your current reality. What is the current reality of your organization or congregation? Where do we stand on the church life cycle timeline?

In order to move forward, we must first acknowledge where we stand. We need to get a clear, compelling picture of where the church currently stands that is agreed upon by the church’s leaders. After that, we need to get a clear, shared and compelling picture of God’s preferred future for our congregation or organization. There will always be a distance at first between our Church’s currently reality (where we are) and God’s preferred future (where God would like us to be going).

So how do we move towards God’s vision and avoid slow death? Our conviction is that we need to have leaders help us by creating tension. Think about it like this: It’s like pulling a rubber band – we can’t pull it too much or it will break, but if we leave it too slack then the rubber band will stay in the same position and never move anywhere. Creating a little bit of anxiety and tension is creating a way for the church to move forward towards God’s preferred future, lest we stay stuck in our current reality and eventually fade away. We can contribute to creative tension in lots of ways by assessing where we are, asking hard questions, experimenting with something, and taking risks that could lead to new possibilities. But if Christian leaders are going to lead change to move from our current reality to God’s preferred future, they must be willing to work at establishing creative tension in the organization. That is how we develop and engage in deep transformative changes for our churches and ministries.

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