Sunday, November 21, 2010


Key Factors in the Theory of Change:[1]

Pastors are rarely good agents of change. They tend to be lovers for whom the people’s comfort and wellbeing is the highest goal, or they are teachers for whom the text and its accurate management is the greatest goal. Sometimes the church is led by a prophet for whom the “Word of the Lord and immediate obedience” is the numero uno priority. This can then be very muddied with much blood and pain.

Yet change is here to stay. Commerce and industry are pioneers in the study of change. If a company does not adapt, it will die. Pure economics drives this reality, whereas the church often can rely on other ingredients like tradition, need, sentimentality that provides somewhat artificial buoys to keep the church afloat in the short term. May I suggest that we become students of change, reading all we can from all quarters of human study so that we can be more effective in this conversation? I have led 2 churches through dramatic changes. I have sought to influence a number of church planting movements to embrace change. A more profound knowledge of this dynamic would have helped me enormously during these changes. I thought theology would have been enough. It was not. Here is a simple adaptation of an introductory table for the change conversation:

Dimensions of Change:

Theory Combinations:

Scriptural Pointers:


In general to create a culture of change, specifically to replant the community.[2]

Is 40:10-11, 42:6-9+14-16, 43:1-3+18-19, 45:1-7, 46:9-11, 48:2-5+17-19, 54:1-8, 60:21- 61:3. 2Cor3:16-18.

Hos 2:23 “I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one’”


‘Set direction from the top, engage the people from below’

Acts 15 is a great case study of ‘the church, the apostles and the elders…”


‘Focus simultaneously on the hard [structures and systems] and the soft [culture]’

Luke 5: 36 – 39 – this conversation about garments [culture] and wineskins [structures] has to be visited theologically and anthropologically and not sentimentally.


‘Plan for spontaneity’

Is 46:10 – 11 “I make known the end from the beginning…my purpose will stand… what I have planned, that will I do”

Jn3:7 + 34 “The wind blows wherever it pleases… so it is with everyone born of the Spirit”

Reward System

‘Use incentives to reinforce change but not drive it’

Heb 12:2 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus… who for the joy set before Him endured the cross…”

Isa 49:4b “Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God”

Use of Consultants

‘Consultants are expert resources who empower employees’[3]

Eph 4:11 – 16 “It was he who gave some to be apostles… prophets… to prepare God’s people for works of service…until we all reach the unity of the faith… become mature… each part does their work”


Through collaboration and partnership, by getting the right strategic people into the room define the future and the next step very clearly. Communicating it at every opportunity. Open and honest communication

Hab 2:2 – 3 “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that the herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it, it will certainly come and will not delay.

[1] Adapted from Michael Beer and Nitin Nohria, “Cracking the Code of Change”. Their model is for corporate business. I have adapted it to the notion of change in the church.

[2] These are my words to place clarity on the discussion for churches.

[3] All these quotes are from their table

1 comment:

  1. I have a book called how to change your church without killing it, good thought provoker. We are undergoing radical change right now as the church has moved from "reading the story" to "being in the story" all activated by a radical step of obedience.
    Thanks for writing and sharing