NEW IDEAS & 7 Lessons for Avoiding A Church Split When You Introduce a New Idea

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 2009.

For 20+ years I have studied how to successfully employ intervention events (i.e. introducing “new ideas” such as new programs, new pastor, etc. to intervene in a church’s decline).  Below are my top 7 tips for successfully doing so.

These insights are needed today, because a growing literature in church management and group exit suggests that without an understanding of some of the following lessons, most attempts to introduce an intervention event will not start the church on a new life-cycle, but rather split it into two smaller groups of which neither will survive.

However, seven (7) lessons are introduced (below) to make the change agent aware that before she or he creates an intervention event, they must also be prepared to study and manage the process that follows that intervention.

Lesson 1: Usually, intervention events will produce a church exit. Arn (2009) is correct that life-cycles play an important role in managing organization behavior. Management researchers Dyke and Starke (1999:810-811) concur with Arn that new life-cycles can be fostered by, in Arn’s words, “beginning something new … an intervention event” (2009:9). However, group studies literature warns that introducing an intervention event, with proper knowledge of the six-stage process model involved, will in all likelihood produce a group exit (Dyke and Starke, 1996, 1999).

Lesson 2: Usually, intervention events produce a group exit, because intervention events usually polarize the church into competing groups. Pondy (1967) discovered that introducing an idea which conflicts with a organization’s status quo, usually produces enough conflict for opposing sub-groups to form. Dyke and Starke label one group (the group proposing change) “change proponents” and the resistant group the “status quo” (1999:805-806)

Lesson 3: Most people aren’t polarized from each other, until an intervention event. Dyke and Starke concur with Pondy’s conclusion that “felt conflict follows manifest conflict” (1967). This means that most people won’t get upset until after they witness some visible or “manifest” intervention (e.g. see Arn’s list of “intervention events,” 2009:9) over which they disagree with others.[1] Thus, when an interventionist (Schaller 1997) uncritically introduces or supports an intervention, a visible (i.e. manifest) conflict event often ensues which then gets previously non-conflicted people riled up. The intervention event creates such deep internal felt conflict in individuals, that the result is a deep-seated conflict that usually spins out of control (Dyke and Starke 1996). Some may wonder if the conflict that results from intervention events is unavoidable, but Dyke and Starke have demonstrated that it is not (ibid). This leads us to the lesson 4.

Lesson 4: If the reaction to the intervention event is not managed, the change proponents will leave as a group, create a new organization that will compete with the mother congregation, and usually both groups will die. Dyke and Starke (1996:159-174) discovered that typically such intervention events propel Pondy’s sub-group into a trajectory that leads to a “spin-off” or “unplanned birth” of a competitive organization. Lau and Murnigham (1998) observe that the ensuing “we-they” competition creates two unstable organizations. Case study research has supported the grounded theory of Lau and Murningham, and Dyke and Starke (Whitesel 2004, 2009:151-169). An ecclesial organization will usually not have sufficient economy of scale to survive this exit behavior, especially if the sub-group that exits the organization is comprised of change proponents (as it usually is, according to Dyke and Starke 1999:810-811).

Lesson 5: To manage the results of an Intervention Event, ecclesial leaders must understand the “Process Model for Group Exit and Retention.” If an ecclesial leader wishes to retain her or his change proponents, an intervention event should not be undertaken without a preparation to manage the ensuing process model of group exit (an organizational model has been put forth by Dyke and Starke, 1999; and a simpler model has been put forth by Whitesel 2007, 2009:151-169, 177).

Lesson 6: At Trigger 2, go slow … build consensus … and succeed. Church leaders that keep their congregations unified and thwart group exit, undertake two (2) of the “trigger events” differently (Dyke and Starke 1999: 811-815). Trigger 1 (a legitimating event) occurs when change proponents bring a new idea to a leader, and the leader enthusiastically “blesses” or “inadvertently legitimates” the new idea. Dyke and Starke found that if the leader does so, change proponents will run too fast with the new idea. While the status quo will be initially tolerant, they will later resent the fact that they were not consulted. The result is a church split (and group exit). Instead, leaders that kept their church unified went slow … built consensus … and succeeded. When new ideas were brought to a church leader, the uniting leader slowed down the change proponents, encouraged them to go through proper channels (creating compromise and consensus), and even had them dialogue with people who the church leader knew would be suspicious, apprehensive and/or contrary.

Lesson 7: At Trigger 4 the effective leader plans for conflict, uses conflict-resolution skills and emphasizes the power of unity. Dyke and Starke found that even when Trigger 2 was handled correctly, conflict will still occur. However, the unifying leader plans for conflict, and when it arises, he or she brings the different sides together to stress that they can do more together than apart. Therefore, instead of a “polarizing event” on the route to group exit, Trigger 4 becomes a “harmonizing event” on the route to group retention and “dissonant harmony” (Dyke and Starke1999:811-815). Thus, a uniting leader plans for conflict, learns conflict resolution skills, and is adept at inspiring a church to see it can do more together, than apart.

If a leader wishes to assist the church in embarking upon a new lifecycle which Arn laudably suggests (rather than fostering more typical group exit behavior) then he or she should familiarize themselves with the process model of group exit (Dyke and Starke 1999:813, Whitesel 2003:177).

[1] This initial repression may be due to Christians typically eschewing conflict (Whitesel 2003:85-93).

FIGURE Staying Power Process Model p. 177

Citations:

Charles Arn, “Where is Your Church in Its Missional Lifecycle?” (Marion, Ind.: Indiana Wesleyan University, 2009).

Bruno Dyke and Frederick A. Starke, “The Formation of Breakaway Organizations: Observations and a Process Model,” Administrative Science Quarterly 44 (Ithaca, NY: Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University, 1999), 792-822.

Bruno Dyke and Frederick A. Starke, “Upheavals in Congregations: The Causes and Outcomes of Splits,” Review of Religious Research 38 (NY: Religious Research Association, 1996), 159-174.

Louis R. Pondy, “Organizational Conflict: Concepts and Models,” Administrative Science Quarterly 12 (Ithaca, NY: Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University, 1999), 296-320

Dora Lau and J. Keith Murnigham, “Demographic Diversity and Faultlines: The Compositional Dynamics of Organizational Groups,” Academy of Management Review 23, 325-340)

Lyle Schaller, The Interventionist (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1997).

Bob Whitesel, Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change and What You Can Do About It (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2004).

Bob Whitesel, Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church (Indianapolis: The Wesleyan Publishing House, 2008).

 

FORGIVENESS & Intellectual humility and forgiveness of religious leaders

by Joshua N. Hooka*, Don E. Davisb, Daryl R. Van Tongerenc, Peter C. Hilld, Everett L. Worthington Jr.e, Jennifer E. Farrella & Phillip Diekef, The Journal of Positive Psychology: Dedicated to furthering research and promoting good practice,  Volume 10, Issue 6, 2015.

Abstract

This article presents two studies that examined how perceptions of intellectual humility affect response to a transgression by a religious leader. In Study 1, participants (N = 105) rated the religious leader on intellectual humility regarding different religious beliefs and values, as well as general humility and forgiveness of the leader for a transgression. Perceived intellectual humility was positively associated with forgiveness, even when controlling for perceived general humility. In Study 2, we replicated the findings from Study 1 on an independent sample (N = 299). Also, the type of offense moderated the association between perceived intellectual humility and forgiveness. For participants, who reported an offense in the area of religious beliefs, values, or convictions, the association between perceived intellectual humility and forgiveness was stronger than for participants, who reported a different type of offense. We conclude by discussing limitations and areas for future research.
DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2015.1004554

Read more at … http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17439760.2015.1004554

CONFLICT & Research Finds 2 Tools that Promote Intellectual Humilty & Resolve Conflict

by David Briggs, Huffington Post, 6/1/16.

Humility. Intellectual humility in particular.

New research projects are finding the more pastors are perceived to be intellectually humble, the more likely they are to be forgiven by people who took offense at something they said or did.

This was especially the case in one study for perceived transgressions in the area of religious beliefs, values or convictions, core areas of religious identity that have the potential to tear asunder congregations.

All congregations are going to go through “relational wear and tear,” and the tension can be particularly high when strongly held religious beliefs are threatened, researchers said.

But humble clergy who model openness and mutual respect may provide the “social oil” that keeps the congregation from overheating and breaking under the strain, new research indicates.

Listening to others

…Humility involves being other-oriented and having an accurate view of your own strengths and weaknesses.

Intellectual humility includes being open to new ideas and being able to regulate arrogance. Thus, intellectually humble individuals are able to present their own ideas “in a nonoffensive manner and receive contrary ideas without taking offense,” said researchers reporting on studies of intellectual humility and religious leadership. The team, led by researchers from Georgia State University, found intellectual humility was associated with higher levels of trust, openness and agreeableness.

“…The more victims perceived the religious leader to have intellectual humility, the more they reported being able to forgive him or her,” reported the study’s researchers, led by Joshua Hook of the University of North Texas.

Modelling Respect

It is the unusual congregation that can avoid internal tensions for too long.

More than six in 10 congregations reported some kind of conflict in the past five years, according to the 2015 Faith Communities Today study.

…More than a quarter of all congregations experienced a conflict in the last two years that led some people to leave the congregation, according to the 2006-2007 National Congregations Study. Nine percent of congregations experienced a conflict that led to the departure of a clergyperson or other religious leader.

Findings from the studies on religious leaders are consistent with a developing body of research that indicate perceived humility can help repair social bonds. In one study, college students who had been hurt in a romantic relationship within the last two months were more likely to forgive an offender they perceived as being humble…

Read more at … http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-briggs/saving-grace-the-leadersh_b_10209548.html?utm_hp_ref=religion&ir=Religion

WORSHIP & How to Multiply Worship Options & Avoid Worship Wars (by church size)

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 3/31/16.

We all know, “one size doesn’t fit all.”  And this is true with church health and growth strategies.  So let’s look at how worship wars must be tackled differently by churches that run over 100 attendees and those churches that have fewer than 100 attendees.

But, worship is actually becoming less innovative!

Research from Hartford Seminary’s Institute for Church Research found that worship is actually becoming less innovative today.  Here is a link to the article: WORSHIP & Churches Increasingly Less Innovative in Worship. Yet even though worship is less innovative (not a good thing), conflict seems to have remained high.  A key part of the solution is conflict resolution.  As a professor who studies conflict resolution, it still surprises me how much conflict arises over styles of worship.

Less conflict = Church Growth

And, it stands to reason that lack of conflict leads to church growth.  Plus, research has supported this. Aaron Earls, commenting on research from Hartford Seminary’s Institute, noted that churches that grow have a “Lack of serious conflict — Fighting churches are not growing churches. Serious conflict stunts growth.For churches that maintained relative calm—no serious conflict in the past five years—more than half grew. Only 29 percent of churches with serious conflict did the same.  For more read: 7 Statistics That Predict Church Growth.

Different Tactics for Different Sizes

But, one of the most important mitigating factors for putting and end to worship wars is the size of the church too.

  • If you are over 100 attendees you must solve worship wars in one manner.
  • And, if you are under 100 attendees, you must solve your worship wars in a very different manner.

So, take a look at these twin-tactics in this post: How to Settle Worship Wars By Church Size. At this link you will also find how you can address the “Four Forces That Control Change,” (e.g. lifecycle-, goal- and trend-orientated change forces) with two different tactics depending on the size of your church.

Hashtags: #StLiz

MULTIPLICATION & 7 Statistics That Predict Church Growth #HartfordInstitute

By Aaron Earls, Facts & Trends, LifeWay, 3/21/16.

Analysis of the American Congregations 2015 study finds seven statistics played a role in which churches experienced significant growth since 2010.

1. Growing location — The old real estate adage applies to churches. Growth is connected to “location, location, location.”

More than half (59 percent) of churches in a new suburb grew at least 2 percent in the past five years. Those in other locations were less likely to experience similar growth—only 44 percent grew at that rate.

2. Younger congregation — Churches whose membership was at least a third senior adults were less likely to grow than other churches.

Only 36 percent of churches heavily attended by senior citizens grew 2 percent or more in the last five years. Almost half (48 percent) of churches where seniors were less than one-third grew.

3. Innovative worship — Congregations who describe their worship service as “very innovative” are almost 10 percent more likely to grow than others.

Less than 44 percent of churches that say they have little to some innovation in worship grew, while more than 53 percent of churches with very innovative worship grew.

4. Lack of serious conflict — Fighting churches are not growing churches. Serious conflict stunts growth.

For churches that maintained relative calm—no serious conflict in the past five years—more than half grew. Only 29 percent of churches with serious conflict did the same.

5. Involved church members — Simply put, the more laity is involved in recruiting new people the more likely a church will grow.

How likely is it that a church grew? For those whose laity was …

  • Not at all involved: 35 percent
  • Involved a little or some: 45 percent
  • Involved quite a bit: 63 percent
  • Involvement a lot: 90 percent

6. Unique identity — If churches worked to discover and present to their community what makes them different from other area churches, they are more likely to grow.

Almost 58 percent of churches who distinguished themselves from other congregations grew, compared to 43 percent of churches who showed little to no difference.

7. Specialized program — Similarly, if churches establish a program as a congregational specialty, they are more likely to grow.

Close to 52 percent of churches that have at least one specialty grew, while less than 42 percent of congregations who claimed no specialty did the same.

These seven statistics from the American Congregations 2015 study give a picture of the churches bucking the trend of decline across U.S. churches.

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/03/17/7-statistics-that-predict-church-growth/#.Vu_fmEX3aJI

Hashtags: #StLiz  #Renovate16

CONFLICT & My List of Books on Conflict Resolution

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 3/17/16.

Colleagues and students often ask for recommended books for addressing church conflict. Below is a list in order of general usefulness. However, since each organizational context is different, the order should serve only as a guideline.

Van Deusen-Hunsinger, D., & Latini, T.F. (2013). Transforming church conflict: Compassionate leadership in action. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster John Knox Press.

Barthel, T. K., & Edling, D. V. (2012). Redeeming church conflicts: Turning crisis into compassion and care. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Whitesel, R.B. (2002). Staying Power: Why people leave the church over change (and what you do about it). Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

_____. (2008). “Go slow, build consensus and succeed.” In Preparing for change reaction: How to introduce change in your church. Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House.

Lyon, K.B., & Mosely, D.P. (2012). How to lead in church conflict: Healing ungrieved loss. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

Malony, H.N. (1995). Win-win relationships: 9 strategies for settling personal conflicts without waging war. Nashville, TN: Broadman.

Leas, S. (1998). Discover your conflict management style. Herndon, VA: Alban Institute

_____. (1998). Moving your church through conflict. Herndon, VA: Alban Institute.

Becker, P.E. (1999). Congregations in conflict: Cultural models of local religious life. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Hybels, B. (1997). “Standing in the crossfire.” In Leading Your Church Through Conflict and Reconciliation: 30 Strategies to Transform Your Ministry, 28-37. Marshall Shelley, ed. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany.

Gangel, K.O., & Canine, S.L. (1992). Communication and conflict management in churches and Christian organizations. Nashville, TN: Broadman.

Halverstadt, H.F. (1991). Managing church conflict. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox.

Palmer, D.C. (1990). Managing conflict creatively: A guide for missionaries & Christian workers. Pasadena, CA: William Carey.

Shawchuck, N., & Moeller, B. “Animal instincts.” (1997). In Leading Your Church Through Conflict and Reconciliation: 30 Strategies to Transform Your Ministry, 176- 182. Marshall Shelley, ed. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany.

Dobson, E.G., Speed B.L., and Shelley, M. (1992). Mastering Conflict & Controversy. Portland, OR: Multnomah

Lewis, G.D. (1981). Resolving church conflicts: A case study approach for local congregations. New York, NY: Harper & Row.

CONFLICT & How to disagree with your boss without getting fired.

USA Today, March 4, 2016.

1. CAREFULLY CONSIDER THE TIME AND PLACE

… Are you in a team meeting where everyone is sharing suggestions and ideas with your manager? That could be a perfect opportunity to speak up, without it seeming aggressive, condescending, or accusatory. Would your boss feel embarrassed or ganged up on if you voiced your opinion in a large group setting? Then you’re better off setting up a separate, one-on-one meeting to talk it out…

2. START POSITIVE

… This is exactly why it’s important to start off your opposition by clearly pointing out something positive. Perhaps it’s a portion of the idea that you really liked or a piece of the process that’s already working quite well…

3. ASK QUESTIONS

Your manager is the one in charge—so he or she likely won’t respond too well if you act like you’re the one who should be doling out criticisms and instructions. How do you get around this? Asking questions of your boss is a great way to make it clear that you’re aiming to foster a collaborative discussion, rather than storming in and firing off demands.

For example, you could say something like, “I really like your idea of holding weekly team meetings for everyone to get on the same page. However, I think having these on Wednesdays instead of Mondays would be better. What do you think?”

This explicitly invites your supervisor to share his or her thoughts or feelings with you, too—meaning the conversation isn’t aggressive or one-sided…

4. FOCUS ON RESULTS

…So, if you can adequately outline the positive results of your opinion or idea, you’re one step closer to getting your supervisor on your side. Let’s use our team meeting example from above to really drive the point home. We’ll use those exact same sentences, but just add a little something to it.

“I really like your idea of holding weekly team meetings for everyone to get on the same page. However, I think having these on Wednesdays instead of Mondays would be better, as it gives everyone a chance to get caught up from the weekend—meaning our meeting will be that much more productive. What do you think?”

See how much more powerful that is? It illustrates that you’re simply trying to suggest a positive change for your office and co-workers—not attack your boss’ authority and intelligence.

5. RESPECT THE FINAL DECISION

In the end, your boss has the final say. If he or she considers your opinion, only to rule against it and carry on with the plan you disagreed with? Well, you need to respect that…

Read more at … http://college.usatoday.com/2016/03/04/how-to-disagree-with-your-boss-without-getting-fired/