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Steak Potatoes and Change – Creating an Appetite for Change in Your Church

Creating an Appetite for Change in Your Church

He is my talk outline for my session at Orange Conference 2013 called Steak, Potatoes and Change – Creating an Appetite for Change in Your Church.

Change happens to be one of my favourite subjects, and one of the things that was fun about this talk is that some of the ideas are ones I’m looking to include in my next two books on change (the sequels to Leading Change Without Losing It). So I’d love your comments and thoughts.

Anyway, here are the notes. And please leave questions in the comments.

Every church needs to change. Even church plants face change once they are outside the launch window-sometimes even earlier. But how do you get people to change? We’ll look at why people don’t change and what you need to do to as a leader to create a desire in the hearts of people for key change

Shift One: Understand Why People Resist Change

1. People crave what they already like.

2. Our cravings form behavioral patterns:

a.  The people who attend your church are there because they like your church the way it is.

b.  The people who don’t attend your church aren’t there don’t.

5. People change when the pain associated with the status quo is greater than the pain associated with change.

6. Leaders have a greater appetite for change than those who follow.

Shift Two: Plot Trajectory to Determine What’s at Stake

1. Unimplemented change eventually becomes relief or regret.

2. The top 5 career regrets of business people (according to Daniel Gulati of the Harvard Business Review):

–       I wish I hadn’t taken the job for the money.

–       I wish I had quit earlier.

–       I wish I had the confidence to start my own business.

–       I wish I had used my time at school more productively.

–       I wish I had acted on my career hunches.

3. Incremental change ushers in incremental results.

4. Radical change has the potential to usher in radical results.

5.  Plot out where you will be if you don’t change.

6.  Plot out where you could be if you do change.

Shift Three: Raise the Level of Discontent

  1. Create discontent out of:

i.     The potential of your mission
ii.    The progress of your mission
iii.   The gap in your mission between what is and what should be (which is what change fills…change fills the gap between what is and what should be.)
iv.   The urgency of your mission.

2. Transfer the tension that comes with the appetite for change from the leader to the community.

3. When you cast vision, focus on why twice as much as you do on what and how.  Why unites, while what and how divide.

4. Communicate the need for change in concentric circles.

i.     Dialogue with the core

ii.     Input from the committed

iii.     Information to the congregation

iv.     Vision to the crowd

v.     Invitation to the community

5. Don’t look for consensus. Consensus kills courage. Change rarely happens when everyone has a say.

6. Reserve the decisions exclusively for the body that must make the decisions.

Shift Four: Prepare for Drama

1. We are attracted to the drama in other people’s lives but resist it in our own.

2. Most Christians would forbid their children from participating in the Bible stories they read to them.

3. Most Christians pray for a changed outcome and then pray against any drama necessary to bring the outcome about

4. To lead change effectively introduces a level of drama into the church that’s necessary for the outcome to change.

Shift Five: Never Arrive

1. Focus on where you’re going, not when you’ll arrive.

2. Value experimentation.

3. Embrace failure as a step toward progress.

4. Celebrate the progress you make

Over time, appetites actually change.

When you truly embrace your mission, change becomes the by-product, not the goal, and that creates a lasting appetite for change.

So that’s the outline. What are you learning about creating an appetite for change?

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  • Kevin

    I’m wondering if you could unpack point one under Shift 5 “Focus on where you’re going, not when you’ll arrive.” Just a little bit more. Thanks.

    • Carey Nieuwhof

      Hi Kevin…for sure. It basically prepare people for a culture of exponential and constant change. Change is never ‘done’, and if you prepare people for that, it helps them adjust to not being ‘finished’ with change. Does that help?

  • Carey,

    Two of your points in Shift Three highlight my current learning phase:

    >Don’t look for consensus. Consensus kills courage. Change rarely happens when everyone has a say.

    >Reserve the decisions exclusively for the body that must make the decisions.

    Certainly SOME consensus is needed, right? A tough spot to be in is when the body that makes decisions doesn’t feel/see/have the same level of discont in its members.

    • Carey Nieuwhof

      Ben…great question. Yes, consensus is needed but consensus on the front end of a decision is difficult. And the larger the group of people, the most difficult consensus is. So I might try to get ‘consensus’ (or at least agreement) from a very small circle (an elder board, senior staff etc) before change. And consensus with the larger group will usually follow after the implementation of the change (but not before it). Does that make sense? For example, people made relentless fun of the iPad when it was introduced. No one needed a giant phone that wasn’t a phone. 3 years later tablets are taking over the world. Consensus came on the back end of change, not the front end.