Thursday, December 03, 2015

Making Change With Zero Body Count

The key is working within the church culture.

There are two ways to dispose of a bomb. You can detonate it and check for damages after the charge goes off. Or, you can patiently dismantle it with zero body count. In twenty plus years of pastoral leadership, I have learned a couple of things. Organizational culture change is a minefield. And, leaders who last are those who specialize in bomb disposal.

Few things are as emotionally charged as your current organizational culture. If you don’t believe me, make an abrupt change and see what happens. Remember, culture exists for one reason. Those you lead have accepted a way of being or doing. Right or wrong, people get attached to these processes. Repetition in praxis brings a sense of security. We are built to gravitate towards security.

As leader you are charged with engineering the cultural DNA of your organization. This is your number one job as a leader. I would argue that your organizational culture is more important than your vision and goals. Culture is organic in nature and affects not only the spirit in which all things are done, but also the means in which they are accomplished. I know many ministries that are exceeding their set goals while leaving a trail of bodies in their wake due to an unhealthy ministry or leadership culture.

Two years ago when I took the Lead Pastor position at a near century-old church, I knew I had my work cut out for me. The mean age of the congregation was close to 60. Two members had been at the church 70 years. Like many churches in need of renewal, they wanted changes that brought about desired results. Young families, youth, and a renewed emphasis on outreach were just a few. But the million-dollar question was, “Did they want the culture shift necessary to see those changes happen?” It’s now 24 months later and our church has about tripled in size, and while some of those I inherited have moved on, they have done so with all their limbs intact and a congregational blessing. Here’s how we did it... Read more

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