CHANGE & A process model of church change as reflected in St. Tom’s Church, Sheffield UK

Bob Whitesel, D.Min. Ph.D., Associate Professor of Missional Leadership, Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University, Journal of the Great Commission Research Network, Vol. 1, No. 2, Winter 2010.


This article is an abbreviation of research originally presented to Dr. Eddie Gibbs, Donald McGavran Professor of Church Growth at Fuller Theological Seminary. Gibbs has been involved with the church under study for over two decades and lauded the author’s research. The research indicates a five-stage/four-trigger process model of change that may serve as an ecclesial prototype for effective change. The article is presented here in honor of Dr. Eddie Gibbs on his retirement.


Though how church change occurs is discussed in Church Growth Movement literature (Whitesel 2007), a holistic process model[1] (Poole 2004:11) of how it takes place is largely missing. Toward envisioning such a model, the purpose of this article is to develop grounded theory (Locke 2001) from an analysis of change within a linked Anglican-Baptist congregation in Sheffield England.

Four Forces of Organizational Change

After examining over 2,000 journal articles on organizational change, theorists Andrew Van de Ven and Marshall Poole have noted that change occurs because one or more of four forces are pushing for change (Poole and Van de Ven 1995). The author has shown elsewhere that these four forces are replicated in ecclesial change (Whitesel 2009). The following is a short overview of these forces.

Life-Cycle Forces

Life-cycle forces push for change because of the organizational life-cycle (Poole 2004:8). Life-cycle forces acknowledge a lock-step process “that is prescribed and regulated by an institutional, natural, or logical program prefigured at the beginning of the cycle” (Van de Ven and Poole 1995:7).

Within Church Growth Movement literature a significant amount of ink has been devoted to life-cycle forces, including: people movements (McGavran 1970:333-372), church planting for denominational survival (McGavran and Arn 1977:92-101), individual church renewal (McGavran and Hunter 1980:59-65), life-stage dynamics (Gibbs 1981:17-48, 364-366) and Schaller’s pioneers vs. homesteaders tension (Schaller 1975:93-96).

Teleological Forces

Teleological theories emphasize forces pushing for change that are a result of “goal formulation, implementation and evaluation” (Poole 2004:7). An “envisioned end state” (ibid.) or goal embraced by constituents moves the organization forward toward change.

Church Growth Movement literature is filled with examples of teleological strategies of goal-setting, including McGavran’s emphasis upon dispelling the “universal fog” that can be pierced by facts and strategic verifiability (McGavran 1970:76-78, 93-102), numerical steps for church growth (e.g. McGavran and Arn 1977:15-115), and many of the tactical conventions of Lyle Schaller, a former city-planner (Schaller 1975:97-104, 107-110, 137-141, 184-187).

Dialectic Forces

Here “an opposing thesis and antithesis … collide to produce a synthesis” (Poole 2004:7). The process is cyclical, whereby the initial synthesis “in time becomes the thesis for the next cycle of dialectical progression” (ibid.). These forces are best dealt with through conflict resolution tools.

An analysis of the major writings of the Church Growth Movement reveals the conflict resolution segment is under represented (Whitesel 2007:9). Some references are apparent, including Wagner’s admonition to “plan a considerable portion of your time for trouble-shooting and problem solving” (Wagner 1976:200) and Schaller’s interventionist framework (Schaller 1997:111-125, 139-149).

Evolutionary Forces

Evolutionary forces are forces that push for change because some program or idea is working, and this tactic becomes the prescriptive solution for other churches. (Poole 2004:7).

Within Church Growth Movement literature strategic programs that work in influential churches (e.g. mega-churches, etc.) can lead to a popularity for evolutionary strategies. Most notable may be Willow Creek Community Church’s seeker-strategies (Hybels and Hybels 1995) and Rick Warren’s purpose-driven ecclesial strategies (Warren 1995).

A Time Line of A Change Event At St. Thomas’s Church

The Change Under Scrutiny

The change chosen for scrutiny was the rapid locational and organizational change that St. Thomas’ underwent the leaders received notice that within days they must vacate the facility due to asbestos. As a congregation of 2,000 meeting weekly in Sheffield’s largest indoor venue, simply moving to a bigger locale was not feasible. In addition, the rapidity of the move would not allow a new facility to be constructed or converted. The result was that St. Thomas’ had only a matter of days to inaugurate a strategy, implement change and then maintain ecclesial effectiveness while holding true to their theology and polity.

A Timeline of Change

The following timeline was created from personal interviews (Whitesel 2005, 2006, 2009), as well as books written by leaders of St. Thomas’ (Breen 1997, 2004; Mallon 2003; Hopkins and Breen 2007).

1978                                        Renovations at St. Thomas’ forces it to share facilities with Crookes Baptist Church (Mallon 2003:20).

1980                                        Renovations at St. Thomas’ are completed and St Thomas’ moved back to their original facility (Mallon 2003:20).

1981                                        After missing synergies from their partnership the two churches dialogue about merger (Mallon 2003:20).

1982                                        St. Thomas’ became a joined Anglican and Baptist Church (Mallon 2003:20).

1983                                        Robert Warren became Rector of St. Thomas’ and senior leader of the Local Ecumenical Project or LEP (Warren 1989).

Fall 1985                                 John Wimber, leader of the network of Vineyard Churches, conducted a series of renewal meetings at the church’s request (Gibbs and Bolger 2005:82). Soon after, Robert Warren invited a local charismatic community, the Nairn Street Community, to conduct a 9 p.m. postmodern worship celebration on Sunday nights. This became known as the Nine O’clock Service (NOC) which has been called the “birth of a postmodern worshipping community” in the UK (ibid.).[2]

October 1993                          Warren resigned to work with the Anglican denomination (Mallon 2003:25). Paddy Mallon became the Baptist minister of the LEP (ibid., p. 26). Mike Breen accepted the call to St. Thomas’ and sensed the Lord underscoring the word “Ephesus” in his prayer life. Breen noticed that Ephesus (Acts 19) had several unique and representative characteristics (Mallon 2003:26):

  1. It was the principal city of the region.
  2. Paul trained local leaders in a rented building.
  3. Leaders went out from Ephesus to plant churches at Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Philadelphia, Sardis, Laodicea and Colosse.
  4. From Ephesus, “the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power” (Acts 19:20).

Breen concluded that, “the church of St. Thomas’ was to function as a resource to its city and region. It was to be a base for church planting and mission and a centre for teaching and training” (Breen 1997:25).

March 1994                            Breen introduced a discipleship program based upon six icons, eventually calling it Lifeshapes (Mallon 2003:18, 25). Mallon credits Lifeshapes as “the most fundamental change in this period … an easily transferable method of planned, disciplined and structured membership activity, at a person as well as a corporate level …” (ibid.).

1994 – 1996                             Management style under Breen moved from a consensus-modality model of Warren (Mallon 2003:27), into a more directive “manager as planner and strategist” (Jones, George, and Hill 2000:234-243). Approximately 200 people left during the first months (Mallon 2003:28).

1998                                        The New Apostolic Churches (Wagner 1998) has a profound effect upon St. Thomas’ leadership structure, leading to an even more centralized apostolic paradigm (Mallon 2003:29-30; Breen 2004). Maconochie recalls, “basically Mike as a CEO kind of guy, helped us through it all. Although he was very delegating in terms of responsibility for clusters and things, he was the main person we processed (things) through …” (Maconochie 2007:5).

However, when a major church decision was needed more modality was practiced, with Maconochie recalling “we’d move back toward more of a Baptist (consensus) model where we’d actually have a church meeting and everybody would vote on it” (Maconochie 2007:6).

September 1998                      Leaders of St. Thomas’ began to sense that the size of their facilities was “restricting growth” (Mallon 2007:1). St. Thomas’ began to meet in a “leisure centre” called the Logos Centre one Sunday each month (Mallon 2007:4). Since the venue was more accessible for unchurched people than the parish church, growth among unchurched attendees increased. The temporary nature of the facility was fostered in part because the facility was only available 35 Sundays a year, it was expensive to rent, and much labor and time was spent in setup and teardown (Mallon 2003:36).

January 2000                          The Roxy nightclub became available for rent, and appeared to overcome the sociological strangulation of the leisure center. Media attention was fostered because The Roxy had been a bawdy concert venue, and by mid-February 400 people were added to the church (Mallon 2003:36-37). “I think what we saw was every time we created space people joined us,” recalled Mallon. “some of that was transfer growth, but a lot of it was conversionary growth” (Mallon 2007:4).

Sunday mornings at The Roxy attracted Baby Boomers, while Sunday evenings attracted Generation X. Services also continued at the parish church in Crookes and were attended by approximately 300 people committed to the local Crookes parish (Mallon 2003:36-37).

Almost without strategic intent, St. Thomas’ had evolved into multiple sub-congregations (Hunter 1979:63; Whitesel and Hunter 2001:26-27). They designated these sub-congregations “celebrations” after a used Pete Wagner (1976:101-2). Three celebrations emerged, each with different cultural patrons: Sunday morning (Boomer) at The Roxy, Sunday evening (Gen. X) at the Roxy, and Sunday morning at the Crookes parish church (Crookes neighborhood of Sheffield).

2000-2001                               The three Celebrations were comprised of “Clusters” of three to seven small groups. These clusters began to reduplicate themselves among (Mallon 2003:37):

  1. Students,
  2. The Café culture,
  3. Inner-city areas,
  4. Generation X singles,
  5. Generation X married couples.

January 2001                          Mike Breen senses God saying, “What would you do if I took away the Roxy?” (Mallon 2003:38; Breen 2007:1-2). “I was in a bit of a panic about that,” recalled Breen. “Because we had just been surveyed with the rest of the churches in Great Britain…. as being the largest church in Great Britain at that time. So most certainly we were a mega-church. And, it felt like God was giving me the option of really going in the mega-church direction or really embracing this thing he had been developing in us the last few years” (Breen 2007:2).

Breen still saw this as God’s nudging toward planting clusters as missional communities, something that they had always intended. “We already had begun by that stage to realize that we were being confined, as we had been at the parish church, by the size of the building and that was restricting growth,” stated Mallon. “So then what we did was we began to think about planting out the clusters” (Mallon 2007:1).

A leadership structure developed, with leaders of celebrations (culturally similar groups of clusters) reporting to Breen or other senior staff. Operating underneath celebration leaders were cluster leaders who oversaw a network of small group leaders (Breen 2007:2).

However, moving from the seemingly successful and comfortable mega-church event-orientation that The Roxy fostered still gave cause for hesitancy (Mallon 2003:38) and even group exit behavior (Maconochie 2007:3).

December 2001                       An attendee who had concerns about the safely of the “torpedo-style heaters” used to heat The Roxy contacted the local authorities requesting a safety inspection (Mallon 2003:39; Calladine 2007:14-15). A subsequent inspection revealed that asbestos rendered The Roxy an immediate health hazard (Calladine 2007:4). “If we were going to do the work on the building that we wanted to, we would have had to put a bubble over the building and put people in space suits” remembered Calladine. “It would have cost around $7 million to renovate…that building is still standing there unoccupied. Anybody who’s going to do anything to that building is going to have to spend huge amounts. We could’ve come up with 60 thousand, but it’s 60 thousand into a money pit …” (Calladine 2007:4).

“…One minute we were in the building and basically several weeks later we were out because we had to close immediately due to the health and safety issues” remembered Woodhead (Woodhead 2007:2). Though this event occurred just before Christmas 2001, the leaders were able to negotiate a five week grace period before they were forced to leave (Mallon 2007:2).

Communicating the venue change to a large congregation flowed effectively through of the celebration-cluster-cell structure. “…The most effective way of communication was … through four phone calls” recalled Calladine (Calladine 2007:4). The Rector would (1) call the Celebration Leaders, who would (2) call the Cluster leaders, who would then call (3) the small group leaders, who would then call (4) all small group attendees.

In addition, Maconochie recounts the spiritual preparation for this change, stating “We’d been talking about it for nearly a year and so we just said to the guys ‘well the Lord said it was going to happen and it has happened and there you go’.” (Maconochie 2007:2). Woodhead added, “So he’d (Breen) already shared that with the staff team, the senior staff and then the staff team and some of the cluster leaders were aware of this word. But was it going to happen? We don’t know because we’ve got this building and then that was it … it was taken away so they (the leaders) were ready to go” (Woodhead 2007:2).

January 27, 2002                    The last celebration was held in The Roxy (Calladine 2007:15) with 17 clusters commissioned to begin meeting the following week to replace the Sunday gatherings at The Roxy (Mallon 2003:39). The emphasis from the weekly Roxy events, to a weekly cluster meeting, democratized the process according to Woodhead, for “people had to really begin to sort things out for themselves. They couldn’t depend on the center for everything. So leadership took on much more of a dynamic, much more of a community (that) ‘we’re in this together’ for each cluster. ‘We’ve got to go out and find the venues. And, we’re looking to see what God’s heart is for this particular area.’ So there was a whole different dynamic it seemed to me when guys were reporting back” (Woodhead 2007:1).

February 3, 2002                    17 clusters are planted throughout Sheffield as St. Thomas’ takes on a “dispersed church” mode (Mallon 2007:3). The Bishop gave permission for clusters to meet within the boundaries of other Anglican parishes (Mallon 2007:2-3).

2002                                        The Diocesan Handbook of Sheffield indicates the average Anglican parish has 25 worshippers (Mallon 2003:36).

2003                                        St. Thomas’ Church now has 34-35 clusters (Mallon 2007:4; Breen 2007:2) with (Mallon 2003:36):

  1. 2,500 members,
  2. 85 percent under the ages of 40,
  3. 298 identify themselves as Anglicans,
  4. 188 identify themselves as Baptists.

Mallon believes this one year period was “the greatest growth we saw as a church. It showed us what we weren’t going to go down the mega-church road, which was an option. And when we had The Roxie, a plan was to make it a large worship complex that would have been glass and chrome and glitter. And now, we were spared all of that” (Mallon 2007:4).

Still, this considerable growth was a surprise. Mallon recalls, “Even developing the resources for the clustering for the six months beforehand, we had no idea we would double in size in terms of cluster leaders in the subsequent 12 months that we were in a dispersed mode. It’s a bit like The Acts of the Apostles: the idea of expansion, contraction, consolidation and then you grow again” (Mallon 2007:6).

A Process Model of Change At St. Thomas’ Church

A Process Model.

The following process model follows the congregation from a gathered congregation, into a dispersed cluster-orientated congregation. The triangles replace the customary rectangle of process models. At St. Thomas’ the triangle represents an interconnected triad of spiritual holism: UP-IN-OUT ministry (Mallon 2003; Breen 2004, 2005). Hopkins and Breen describe this triangle as the “glue or essence” of their organizational structure (Hopkins and Breen 2007). Arrows signify “trigger events” that push the organization forward toward change (per Trigger Theories, e.g. Pondy 1967, Worchel 1998 and Dyke and Starke 1999).WHITESEL Figure 3 St. Toms GCRJ.jpgStage 1, Program System

The pastorate of Robert Warren (1983-1993) molded the church into an increasingly program system of organizational behavior (Maconochie 2007:5-6). Twenty percent of the congregants support the burgeoning programs above them, often with resultant burnout. Mallon describes this period as a consensus model of leadership, that became “stifled, impaired and over-bureaucratic” (Mallon 2003:27). Hopkins and Breen’s inverted triangle of Figure 4 suggests an unstable organizational behavior.

WHITESEL Figure 4 St. Toms GCRJ.jpg

Trigger 1, Ephesus Leadership

Breen’s emphasis upon the word “Ephesus” (Mallon 2003:26) began to move the leadership toward a more teleological style (Breen 1997:25). The first trigger (arrow) in Figure 3 indicates the four forces pushing in the following ranked order:

  1. Dialectic forces are the most powerful forces pushing for change, as Breen begins a steady yet measured process (Breen 2007:6) of acquainting leaders, congregants and attendees with a new church model based upon the church at Ephesus.
  2. Life-cycle forces next affect change, as Breen emphasizes a new era of church life is emerging (Breen 2007:2).
  3. Evolutionary forces are exemplified in Breen’s wide range of readings (Breen 2007:4), basing his leadership model upon Ken Blanchard’s The One Minute Manager (Mallon 2003),
  4. Teleological forces did not appear to play a significant role, as goals are downplayed in lieu of a reorientation in vision.

Breen begins to “tip” the congregational behavior system (in a counterclockwise rotation in Figure 3) from the point-down perspective toward an upright configuration. But first it must rotate through the horizontal (point to the right) configuration of a mission movement (Hopkins and Breen 2007:70).

Stage 2, Emerging/Organic Leadership

The congregation moves into a growth stage, with increasing numbers requiring stronger sodality leadership (Wagner 1984:141-165). Though small groups and clusters are integrated, increasingly the leaders are required to be primary decision makers. Maconochie remembers, “basically Mike, as a CEO kind of guy, helped us through it all. Although he was very delegating in terms of responsibility for clusters and things, he was the main person we processed (things) through” (Maconochie 2007:5).

Trigger 2, The Roxy is Available

The Roxy becomes available and expands St. Thomas’ ministry. To the leaders it appears that “every time we created space people joined us,” (Mallon 2007:4). At Trigger 2 the four forces occur in the following ranked order:

  1. Teleological forces push the church to change as The Roxy must be adapted and utilized. Examples such as the noisy torpedo-heaters, safety issues and other administrative objectives are required to effectively utilize Sheffield’s largest venue.
  2. Dialectic forces remain strong as Breen and others seek to maintain the unity and missional faithfulness by emphasizing a structure of small groups (cells) and clusters (Mallon 2007:6).
  3. Life-cycle forces decline, as the church sees teleological and dialectical issues coming to the forefront. Yet, life-cycle forces are still evident, as the church moves into what congregants perceive as a new stage in the church’s life, one that resembles a mega-church.
  4. Once much of the organizational foundation has been laid, evolutionary forces seem to wane as leaders have few external models to follow (Maconochie 2007:3).

 Stage 3, Organic/Emerging System

The growing size of the new congregation now continues to “tip” the triangle (continuing a counterclockwise rotation) from the forward sodality leadership style of Stage 2, into a more organic structure with broader participation by volunteers. This broadening of the base (e.g. more cell leaders and cluster leaders are needed) is required by the size of the growing congregation. As a result, cells and clusters receive an increasing emphasis, a factor that would prepare the church for the next trigger, the loss of The Roxy. God prepares Breen personally for the loss of The Roxy (Breen 2007:1-2).

Trigger 3, The Roxy is No Longer Available

Though warned the loss of The Roxy venue came with amazing speed. Within one month (the end of December 2001 to the end of January 2002) the church was in the dispersed mode. Forces that occurred (in ranked strength) are:

  1. The rise in teleological goal-setting by volunteer cluster leaders, democratized the process and heightened teleological change forces.
  2. The sense that the church was moving into the long-awaited dispersed stage gave the sense of a prophetic life-cycle (Maconochie 2007:2).
  3. Evolutionary forces now become more important as leaders sought to grapple with the implications of leading a distributed church. Administrative goals, such as how to collect the offering, etc. became increasingly important (Calladine 2007:7-8; Mallon 2007:10).
  4. Because of the leadership’s high-commitment / low-control style of leadership (Maconochie 2007:5), dialectic forces were not a major factor, as those who did not support the new vision went elsewhere.

Stage 4, Organic System

St. Thomas’ now emerges in much the same form it exhibits today (see Figure 5).WHITESEL Figure 5 St. Toms GCRJ.jpg

In Figure 5, the largest part of the church, represented by the broad base, connects with its indigenous context. In addition, the leaders in Figure 5, represented by the 20%, function as strategic managers looking toward the long-range future and planning of the church.

Trigger 4, (Ongoing) Dissemination

This ability of the 20% to be strategic thinkers and to focus on long-range vision has permitted St. Thomas’ to send its leaders around the globe to share their experience.

  1. Evolutionary forces come to the fore for the first time, since the strategies and systems created at St.. Thomas’ provide a model for similar congregations. Breen’s success as a writer, as well as the designer of Lifeskills, now Lifeshapes,© is testimony to the evolutionary forces now at work. Mallon’s writings have likewise helped disseminate what was learned in Sheffield. The popularity of their Visitors’ Week is also an indication to the evolutionary forces at play.
  2. A teleological emphasis upon measuring the church’s growth indicates that teleological goal-orientation forces still have significant influence.
  3. Life-cycle forces play a smaller, yet important role, as Breen, Mallon and Visitors’ Week help churches on the downward side of their life-cycle (Mallon 2003:76-95, Breen 1997, 2004).
  4. Finally, because dialectic forces do not usually play a significant role once a church has reputation for a particular tactic, dialectic forces are now less influential.

Stage 5, Organic System

             St. Thomas’ Church of Sheffield can be viewed today as an example of ecclesial change that is founded upon an evangelistic ethos, wed with a developing and integrated organizational management structure. Within this management structure a process model for change has emerged that deserves consideration as much as does St. Thomas’ insights on clusters (Hopkins and Breen 2007; Mallon 2003) or Lifeshapes© (Breen 1997). It is the writer’s hope that this process model can provide another view of the interplay of change forces and their involvement in church change.

Questions for Further Research

Question 1: Does the process model described above bear resemblance to processes found in other large postmodernal and organic congregations? A case study comparison between Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, Calif. and Mar’s Hill in Grandville, Mich. might inform further discussion.

Question 2: Does this process model overly emphasize the importance of dialectic powers due to this change taking place in a long-standing Anglican congregation? An investigation of newly planted postmodernal and organic congregations such as The Bridge in Phoenix or Scum of the Earth in Denver might inform this research.

Question 3: What are the cultural ramifications of an English congregation as an church case study? In his responses, Breen downplayed the effect of dialectic forces because he sees English spirituality as so unpopular, that congregants who align with an evangelic church in the UK have already made a cultural break with popular expectations (Breen 2007:5). To what degree does a hostile, indifferent or unacquainted culture bear upon change forces, especially dialectical forces?

Question 4: Does the size of a congregation make certain forces for change more prevalent and/or powerful? In other words, are teleological forces more prevalent/powerful in larger congregations where professionals are expected to operate as strategic leaders. Note how this occurred at St. Thomas’ in Stage 2. A study of postmodernal and organic congregations of varying size, such as the sol café in Edmonton, Alberta along with Bluer of Minneapolis and Solomon’s Porch in Minnesota might inform grounded theory development on this topic.

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Whitesel, Bob. 2003. Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change (And What You Can Do About It). Nashville: Abingdon Press.

———. 2004. Growth by Accident, Death by Planning: How NOT To Kill a Growing Congregation. Nashville: Abingdon Press.

———. 2004. Organizational Behavior. In The Church Leader’s MBA: What Business School Instructors Wished Church Leaders Knew About Managment: unpublished manuscript.

———. 2005. The Perfect Cluster: For Young Adults, St. Tom’s, Sheffield Creates Extended Families, And Everyone Knows Where They Fit. Outreach Magazine, May/June 2005, 112-114.

———. 2006. Build Your Church on Its Core Competencies. Church Executive, September, 2006, 48-49.

———. 2006. Inside The Organic Church: Learning From 12 Emerging Congregations. Nashville: Abingdon Press.

———. 2007. Organic Change: 12 Emerging Communities of Missional Theologians. The Journal of the American Society for Church Growth 18:3-16.

———. 2007. Toward a Holistic and Postmodernal Theory of Change: The Four Forces Model of Change as Reflected in Church Growth Literature. The Journal of the American Society for Church Growth forthcoming.

———. 2008. Preparing For Change Reactions: How To Introduce Change To Your Church. Indianapolis, Ind.: The Wesleyan Publishing House.

———. 2009. The Four Forces of Change As Observed in Postmodern Ecclesial Contexts. Unpublished dissertation presented to Fuller Theological Seminary: Pasadena, Calif.

Whitesel, Bob, and Kent R. Hunter. 2001. A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps in Your Church. Nashville: Abingdon Press.

Winter, Ralph D. 1974. The Two Structures of God’s Redemptive Mission. Missiology: An International Review:121-139.

Woodhead, Mick. 2007. Personal Communication: Appendix 2. Sheffield, England, June 14, 2007.

Worchel, Stephen. 1998. A Development View of the Search for Group Identity. In Social Identity: International Perspectives, edited by S. Worchel, W. L. Wood and J. A. Simpson. London: Sage.

Yukl, G. 1990. Managerial Practices Survey. Albany, NY: Gary Yukl and Manu Associates.

[1] Poole tenders a helpful definition that a “process theory is a series of events that unfold through time to bring about some outcome” (2004:11).

[2] A autocratic management structure eventually led the NOS into schism. For an insightful look into the forces involved, as well as the NOS’s cultural influence see Gibbs and Bolger 2005: 82-85.

Speaking hashtags: #Kingwood2018 #GCRN #GCRJ GCRN GCRJ

CHANGE & My video introduction to “The 4 Forces that Control Change” #LEAD600

Here is a video introduction to articles I have written (for anyone) and assignments (for students in LEAD 600, etc.) that deal with controlling change (which we call theories of changing). It introduces the viewer to “The Four Forces that Control Change” and how to manage each.

©️Bob Whitesel 2017, used by permission only.

Articles mentioned in the video as well as additional articles are available at the following links:

Download the Church Executive article by Bob Whitesel here:  ARTICLE_Four Forces-Whitesel (Church Executive Article)

Fownload the article in the Journal of the Great Commission Research Network here: article-whitesel-gcrn-toward-a-holistic-and-postmodernal-theory-of-change-in-cg-literature-gcrn . To subscribe and/or receive more information about The Great Commission Research Journal (the new name) click here:

And find more “theories of changing” articles on here:




LIFE CYCLE & Ichak Adizes’ Bell Curve of Organizational Change

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  When discussing organizational lifecycles with clients and students, I utilize Dr. Ichak Adizes’ organizational bell curve of change (below).  Clients and students find it not only accurate but helpful in implementing change.

Adizes Lifecycle Bell Cure

Here is a slide I use with my students and clients:

CHART Adizes Life-cycle chart.png

For more info on each stage see …

Life-cycle Lifecycle Life Cycle



THEOLOGY & A Theology of Ecclesial Change

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 12/22/06.


An earlier ethnographic survey of 12 Christian congregations that were largely led, staffed and populated with adults between the ages of 22 and 35, was designed to uncover synergies and strategies that might inform further research among our master and doctoral students in the College of Graduate Studies at Indiana Wesleyan University regarding how efficacious change was implemented in these environs.

This monolith appropriates Van de Ven and Poole’s four-force model of change (Van de Ven and Poole 1995; Poole and Van de Ven 2004) and applies it to changes the early church underwent in the Acts of the Apostles as it grappled with the assimilation of Gentile converts. A five stage process-model for organizational change is proposed with an accompanying suggestion for a theology of ecclesial organizational change.

Greek Designations For a Theology of Ecclesial Organizational Change

A Scriptural predilection for personal behavioral and cognitive change largely overshadows most investigations into the organizational change that a Pharisaic and Diasporic Judaism was undergoing in a transformation into an in situ Messianic community. Laubach points out that this emphasis upon behavioral and cognitive change is evidenced in both Greek and New Testament authors in their proclivity to employ strepho, hapostrepho and strepho in contexts which suggest cognitive and behavioral changes of philosophic and moral perspectives (Laubach 1967:354-355).

A study of Greek literature suggests that morphe might be helpful. Greek writers debated the dynamic “twilight” between reality and form (Plato 1941), and in doing so they employed morphe to emphasize the outward appearance of inner change (Braumann 1967:705-706). Yet, Braumann’s Scriptural examination suggests organizational change is not encompassed in this word’s New Testament usage either (ibid.)

Metanoia might be the most well known word for change, yet it appears rarely in classical Greek literature (Goetzmann 1967:357). This leaves its focus at the mercy of the Septuagint and New Testament writers, where it too carries the force of personal rather than corporate turn in direction (Behm 1964-1974).

However, one word does come into our view carrying the connotation of outward change in appearance with an emphasis upon the form the change evolves through and into (Braumann 1967:709-710). This word, a cognate of schema, is meteschematizo and occurs five times in Paul’s writings to the Corinthians and once in his writings to the Philippians. Let us look at each, the later first.

In Philippians 3:21 the import of meteschematizo is an eschatological outward change in humankind’s appearance, or as Braumann describes “real participation in the glorified body of Christ (Braumann 1967:709). Synergy with outward organizational change is not fostered here, but rather an emphasis upon eventual and outward personal change (Ladd 1981:563-564).

In 1 Corinthians 4:6 Paul warns his skeptics that he applies (meteschematisa) certain constrictions to his outward teachings, because of his desire to be a faithful and trustful servant of Christ’s message (1 Corinthians 4:1-2). Braumann points out this connotes a thoroughness in transformation (Braumann 1967:709), while Scheider suggests here also lies an emphasis upon an outward appearance that is not the “expected or customary form” (Schneider 1964-1974:958). While this is closer to a description of organizational transformation into an unexpected form, meteschematisa here is applied personally and not corporately. Yet, the use of the term to describe unexpected or uncustomary outward changes in appearance that are due to inner enthuses will be suggested later to describe organizational change in the New Testament.

2 Corinthians 11:13-15 contains the remaining instances of meteschematizo where the word is employed by Paul to describe a fallacious appearance of false apostles. The NIV describes this as a “masquerade,” while the NASB and RSV employ the less animated “disguise.” Yet, the usage here retains an external emphasis based upon an inner adjustment, but again applies it personally rather than corporately.

A scouring of theological summaries provides limited analysis of organizational change beyond the above understandings. And thus we find tantalizingly useful words, but not applied to the organizational transformations we seek to discuss in this monolith. Subsequently, an analysis of New Testament history, especially as reflected in Luke’s writings of the Acts of the Apostles (an intentional delimitation to ensure this discussion is not unwieldy), can provide an understanding of the forces for change and resultant processes employed under the unction of the Holy Spirit within the early church to organizationally transition from a Jewish sect into a widespread force for altruism, faith and change.

Scholarly Discussion of a Theology of Ecclesial Organizational Change

A Scriptural focus upon personal change may have resulted in ecclesial organizational change receiving less than adequate analysis among theologians. A search of American Theological Library Association (ATLA) databases provides less than a handful of journal articles on a theology of change. And, most investigate the personal, cognitive and behavioral change that humans undergo, rather than corporate change. A few however, bear mentioning.

Ellen Charry posits an interesting contribution to her reflections upon Jurgen Moltmann’s work, titled “Reviving Theology in a Time of Change” (Charry 1996). Though designed to address the task of theology in the elastic world of postmodernity, she none-the-less argues for new workings in theology while hinting at the importance of studying the dynamic tension between theology and changing contexts. Charry opens the door for more study on the synergies created when contextual change intersects theology. She leaves the reader standing with the door ajar, perhaps wishing her reader or students to cross the threshold. However, her contribution is not just in the observation that contextual change is a force unfairly neglected in theology inquiry, but also in her conclusion that postmodern generations eschew broad systemizations in favor of fluid and elastic understandings where change serves as a force to be reacted to and embraced (Charry:118)

In a similar vein, Martyn Percy pens a hopeful “A Theology of Change for the Church” in his contribution to a book on Anglican ecclesial management (Percy 2000). However, the result is a less than satisfying theological apologetic for Anglican polity and practices as responses to change (2000:177-178). A theology of how ecclesial organizational change occurs is not evident, overshadowed by a defense of denominational polity and actions. Nor does a Biblical theology emerge from this discussion, rather Percy tenders an apologetic for Episcopal-based structures and hierarchical controls (2000:177). Not unexpectedly, the result is better labeled a theology of changing (see my upcoming explanation), and still bears greater resemblance to a theology of leadership, with sub-sets of control and administration.

However, it is de Jongh van Arkel who hints at the potential for a theology of change in his insightful article “Understanding Change as Practical Theologian” (De Jongh van Arkel 2001). Though discussing a theology of personal change, he observes that “in theology we often talk about change as if there were little to explain or understand” (2001:31). This tendency to avoid what on the surface seems pedestrian and self-explanatory may also be the malady of any investigation of theology and its relationship to ecclesial organizational change. De Jongh van Arkel argues that “religious change …. is still an open field for research” with a potential to result in a more complex, yet holistic view of humankind and its actions (2001:58). He thus sees a requisite duty of theologians to analyze this theological step-child to elicit “a more informal understanding and theory of change (that) would become part of our basic theories in practical theology” (2001:31). While de Jongh van Arkel is making his arguments largely targeted at crafting a more holistic theology of personal change, the same should be true of the construction of a theology of ecclesial organizational change; where both are subsets of a practical theology.

A contributing factor to what de Jongh van Arkel describes as a modernist neglect of a theology of change, may be because change is a messy, uncharted and muddled arena. It has been observered that a modernist Christendom likes to have its concepts tidy and neatly packaged (Dockery 1995:14-15; Oden 1995:27-31; Grenz 1996:71-81). Yet, postmodernity seems to have no apprehension toward tackling the shadowy-side, of Christian life and community (Whitesel 2006:108-123). Mike Yaconelli penned a book popular among postmodernal young people that eschewed Christianity as a nice, codified set of principles, and rather acknowledged it as unclear, ambiguous and even sometimes hazardous to personal mental peace (Yaconelli 2002). Brian McLaren’s summative title, A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I Am a Missional, Evangelical, Post/protestant, Liberal/conservative, Mystical/poetic, Biblical, Charismatic/contemplative, Fundamentalist/Calvinist, Anabaptist/Anglican, Methodist, Catholic, Green, Incarnational, Depressed-Yet Hopeful, Emergent, Unfinished Christian (McLaren 2004) alludes to this multiplicity. Hermann Hesse’s protagonist may have said it best, when he insinuates modernist man longs for the regimentation of the Middle Ages, by stating “a man of the Middle Ages would detest the whole mode of our present-day life as something far more than horrible, far more than barbarous. Every age, every culture, every custom and tradition has its own character, its own weakness and its own strength, its beauties and ugliness; accepts certain sufferings as matter of course, puts up patiently with certain evils” (Hesse 1957:22).

Subsequently, there may be little hesitation for postmodernal thinkers to closely examine and conjecture on the relationships between change, theology and organizational behavior. De Jongh van Arkel’s avoidance hypothesis, is hopefully no longer required by a generation that sees and welcomes both beauty and ugliness in God’s creation, including the church and its theology.

Even over a quarter century ago these tensions were shaping the mind of Michael Ryan (Ryan 1975). While contributing to a volume he edited on The Contemporary Explosion in Theology, Ryan suggests that life-cycle forces are causing a reevaluation of modernist institutions and their beliefs by younger generations (1975:1). Though embracing a postmodernist viewpoint, Ryan does not utilize the term postmodern. Instead he prefers to call for the contemporary theologians bursting upon the scene to contemplate the dynamic tensions inherent in change and craft an understanding (1975:10-16). Due to its inevitability, Ryan encourages that change be embraced by the church, because there are “vital forces and new institutions around them demanding that they change, that they adapt to new conditions of life” (1975:1).

Toward this cultural and theological demand, the remainder of this monolith will seek to inaugurate a discussion. While theologians such as Percy, de Jongh van Arkel, Ryan and others have scratched the surface, it is the hope that this present study will release creative new ideas for theological inquiry, and will enlarge research of ecclesial organizational change and a theology that might inform it.

 Historical Evidence of a Theology of Ecclesial Organizational Change

Download the rest of the article HERE: ARTICLE ©Whitesel – Toward a Theology of Ecclesial Change PhD

MISS 600 LEAD 600 LEAD 558

CHANGE & A Case Study of the 4 Forces That Control Change

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 10/16/15.

Change is an intricate interplay of four forces that are driving change:

1) Life-cycle Forces,

2) Goal-orientated Forces,

3) Conflict-oriented Forces, and/or

4) Trend-orientated Forces.

And, in hindsight it is often evident that these four forces are at play, pushing a church to change (download this Church Executive Magazine article for an introduction to the four forces of change: article_four-forces-whitesel-church-executive-article(1) )

As a leadership exercise to help see the interplay of these for (4) forces it is often helpful to use a case study.

The Leadership Exercise:  The Story of First Church

Create a “Case Study” as a leadership team or cohort, where each participant adds a little more to “The Story of First Church.”

I will start, and then each participant adds some more details to the story.  Try to create a story that will show the delicate interplay of all four forces pushing First Church toward change.

Here is the beginning:

Pastor Theresa has just been hired by First Church as the senior pastor.  She has been told by a pastor friend that this church is a pastor-killer.  Not to be daunted, Theresa has prayed with her friends and spouse and feels more than up to the task.  As she is unpacking her books in her new office, there is a knock on the door.  In walks Ed, the chairman of the administrative board.  Ed is younger than she, and always full of ideas.  In fact, Pastor Theresa had been excited that she would be working with an innovative person like Ed. The first words out of Ed’s mouth are, “I’ve just been to a conference, and I’ve learned that updating the worship service can help an aging church like ours…” (Life-Cycle Forces of an aging congregation are pushing Ed to suggest this change. And Trend-orientated Forces are pushing Ed to suggest they adopt the latest worship format.)

Now you can begin to add the rest of the story

Here are the rules for adding to our case study story:

  • This is first-come, first-served exercise.
  • Each person adds a few sentences to this story.
  • You can add more than once, but wait until at least three others have responded. Usually each participant should post to this story twice, but you can add more, just remember the “additions by three others first” rule (to ensure parity).
  • When you add something that has to do with one of the four forces, name that force in parenthesis, e.g. (Trend-orientated Force).

This is an often creative, yet poignant way to study the complex interplay of the four forces pushing for change. And, it will hopefully help you recognize these forces more in the future.

Remember, this exercise is the development of a “theory of change” and thus you do not have to delve into how to control that change yet. For the current leadership exercise just create a “case study” of how the hypothetical leader of First Church encounters change in all of its glorious intricacy and friction.

Thanks for adding to Pastor Theresa’s  dilemma.

PS  I just (wink) found this great video (below) of Pastor Theresa when she was considering going to seminary.  I hope it adds a bit of humor so that this exercise doesn’t get gloomy:

CHANGE & A Comparison of the Major Theories of Change

Interplay Among Popular Explanations of Change

by Bob Whitesel, 3/16/15.

Below is a systematic list which describes how the different forces that control change are reflected in different theories of change. I let me students use this bibliographic list as a starting place for their investigation into varying theories of change.  However I encourage them to not limit themselves to the theories below. The reader should look at how other theories explain change and consider how they fit into a four-force explanation.

The first section of the chart is adapted by myself from Table 1.2, Poole, Marshall Scott (2004). Central issues in the study of change and Innovation. In M. S. Poole & A. H. Van de Ven (Eds.), Handbook of Organizational Change and Innovation (p. 9). Oxford: Oxford University Press. The second section is adapted by myself from Whitesel, B. (2009), The four forces model of change as reflected in church growth literature. The Journal of the Great Commission Research Network, La Mirada, CA: Biola University Press.

For more on the Four Forces That Control Change, you can

Management Theories:

Uni-force theories of change:

  1. Cameron and D. Whetten, 1983 (life-cycle theory)
  2. G. March and H. A. Simon, 1958 (goal-orientated theory)
  3. K. Benson, 1977 (conflict-orientated theory)
  4. T. Hannan and J. H. Freeman, 1977 (trend-orientated theory)

Dual-force theories of change:

  1. B. Clark, 1985 (design hierarchy theory)
  2. Simmel, 1908, L. Closer, 1958 (Group conflict)
  3. G. Astley, 1985 (Community ecology)
  4. Aldrich, 1979 (Adaption-selection models)
  5. E. Greiner, 1972 (organizational growth and crisis stages)
  6. Tushman and E. Romanelli, 1985 (organizational punctuated equilibrium)

Tri-force theories of change:

  1. E. Lindblom, 1965 (partisan mutual adjustment)
  2. E. Weick, 1979 (social psychology of organizing)

Quad-force theories of change:

  1. C. Riegel, 1976 (human development progressions)
  2. D. Cohen, J. G. March and J. P. Olsen, 1972 (garbage can)


Church Growth Theories:

Uni-force theories of change:

  1. Glasser, 1976
  2. G. Hunter, 1979
  3. A. Hunter, 2002
  4. Roxburgh, 1998
  5. Martin and G. L. McIntosh 1993
  6. Schaller, 1979, 1983
  7. P. Wagner, 1979, 1981, 1984

Dual-force theories of change:

  1. Arn 1997, 2003
  2. G. Hunter, 1987
  3. A. McGavran, 1955, 1988
  4. A. McGavran and W. Arn, 1973
  5. L. McIntosh, 2000, 2002
  6. L. McIntosh and D. Reeves, 2006
  7. Schaller, 1980
  8. Towns and W. Bird, 2000
  9. P. Wagner, 1971, 1979, 1983, 1999

Tri-force theories of change:

  1. Arn and W. Arn, 1982
  2. Costas, 1983
  3. Gibbs, 1979
  4. Kelly, 1999
  5. Martin and G. McIntosh, 1997
  6. McGavran and G. G. Hunter, 1980
  7. McIntosh, 1979, 2004
  8. Schaller, 1997
  9. P. Wagner, 1976, 1984
  10. Whitesel, 2003, 2004, 2006

Quad-force theories of change:

  1. Gibbs, 1981, 2005
  2. Gibbs and R. Bolger, 2005
  3. L. Guder, et. al., 1985
  4. G. Hunter, 2000
  5. A. McGavran, 1979
  6. A. McGavran and W. Arn, 1977
  7. McIntosh, 2003, 2004
  8. McIntosh and S. D. Rima, 1997
  9. Schaller, 1975
  10. Whitesel, 2008, 2010
  11. Whitesel and K. R. Hunter, 2001


CHANGE & The 4 Forces That Control Church Change #BobWhitesel #ChurchExecutiveMagazine

by Bob Whitesel Ph.D., Church Executive Magazine, March 2010, pp. 21-22.

(Download the original article here:  ARTICLE_Four Forces-Whitesel (Church Executive Article)

CE Four Force Model p. 1Changing a Church is Challenging!

As a writer and professor of church management and growth, I have found that managing change is a daunting task for church leaders. Regrettably, in most seminaries, managing change is not taught. I thus began to plumb the depths of the mysterious workings of change in churches, and surprisingly I discovered that the process is not so mysterious nor unexamined.

A primary culprit for the failure of church change is because there are more forces pushing for change than church leaders usually recognize.   As a result most church change strategies are to narrow, because leaders usually address only one or two of the up to four forces that may be present.

Where did the Four Force Model come from?

Andrew Van de Ven and Marshall Poole are management researchers that have compiled an exhaustive study of organizational change (Poole and Van de Ven 2004). Based upon an analysis of hundreds of articles in prestigious management magazines and journals, they discovered that change theories revolve four forces that push or generate change (Poole and Van de Ven 1995).

These change forces are sometimes called “four basic motors of change” because they push an organization into change (Poole and Van de Ven 2004:6). Sometimes only one force is pushing for change, but often two, three or four forces combine to simultaneously push an organization through change. While Van de Ven and Poole noted the effect of the four forces upon theories of change, I have observed in my practice that these forces also give us clues to the tools that are necessary to help a church change.

Why are the four forces of change important?

If an organization, such as a church, is only addressing one or two forces pushing for change (the usual church strategy) and more forces are pushing for change (up to four), I believe that the change will be unsatisfying and incomplete. If not all of the forces pushing for change are addressed congregants can feel the change did not go far enough or address their concerns. Thus, church change is often inadvertently too narrow and rejected by congregants who feel there are other forces pushing for change. In my consulting practice, I have found that successful change strategies first discover how many forces are pushing your church toward change, and then use the appropriate tools to control each force that is present.

What are the four forces of change?

If we are to bring about healthy and unifying church change then all the forces pushing for change must be addressed. – Bob Whitesel

Van de Ven and Poole assigned technical names to these forces, which I have simplified for retention. I will first briefly describe each change force and then follow with examples of tools to control each.

Life Cycle Forces defined.

Life cycle forces are motors pushing for change because an organization is at a crisis point in its life cycle. This could be a church that has an aging congregation or a facility with a different ethnicity moving into the neighborhood. Churches that feel this force are often older congregants who are concerned that the church is not adequately reaching out to other cultures or generations. If a change strategy does not address their concerns about the longevity of the organization, they will not support the change for it does not address the force they feel pushing most robustly upon them.

Life Cycle Forces tools.

Tools to address life cycle forces usually involve crafting long-term plans for growth. This often begins with the “visioning” process. Subsequent tools include starting new services or ministries to reach new generations or cultures. This may require hiring staff from this new culture to help the church make the transformation into a new cultural life-cycle. Many church growth strategies address such life cycle forces.

Goal-oriented Forces defined.

Goal-orientated forces are powers that push for change because a goal has been created for the organization. This may be an attendance goal imposed upon the congregation by a denomination and/or the church leadership. BHAGS are management gurus Jim Collins and Jerry Porras’ way of fostering change with “Big Harry Audacious Goals” (Collins and Porras 2004).   Such goals often motivate leaders who see the bigger picture better than they see the mechanics of getting there. And, these forces may be generated by a personal vision or a biblical mandate (such as the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19). Goal-orientated forces are often associated with churches that are struggling to survive, mega churches or newly planted churches. While this force is often felt most acutely by top-level leadership, attendees often have trouble appreciating this force. This is because for many attendees there are other forces (such as life-cycle forces described above or dialectic forces below) that are more powerful.

Goal-oriented Forces tools.

Tools to address goal-orientated forces usually revolve around measurement and research. Donald McGavran, the father of the Church Growth Movement, said there is a “universal fog” in our churches that masks our appreciation for measurement (McGavran 1970). He also pointed out that there is no such reticence in the Bible. Thus, evaluation becomes an important tool for measuring goal-orientated progress and/or when a goal needs to be revamped. Though reaching goals is an important force pushing for change in churches, it is not the only force present. If leadership tries to motivate an entire congregation by goals alone, many congregants who are feeling the push of other change forces will deem the change insufficient and/or inauthentic.

Conflict-oriented Forces defined.

Conflict-orientated forces push a church toward change because there are opposing viewpoints in the congregation. Often this occurs when new concepts are introduced and they appear to conflict with previously held ideas. Needless to say many churches suffer from this. While churches comprehend that this is a widespread problem, my experience is that conflict resolution is poorly addressed in many congregations. My Ph.D. research revealed that conflict-resolution is even a weak area in church leadership writings. This omission may be because congregants feel that the church should be a peaceful place, and thus they often avoid conflict. But conflict is a powerful motor for those that feel conflicted or at odds with other attendees, and thus it too must be addressed.

Conflict-oriented Forces tools.

Tools to address conflict will be found in books and programs that foster conflict resolution. Compromise is the goal of these resources, but first each side must understand the other before they can find middle ground. Research has also shown that it is critical that church leaders go slow when introducing change until widespread clarity and some compromise has been accomplished (Starke and Dyck 1996; Dyck and Starke 1999). I have written an entire book on the six-steps of church compromise and how going too fast with new ideas usually dooms creative ideas (Whitesel 2003).

Trend-orientated Forces defined.

The reader must remember that most change is being pushed along by multiple motors at the same time, and thus an effective change strategy must be a collage of the tools listed. – Bob Whitesel

A final force often concurrently pushing for change is the trend-orientated force. This is a motor that drives change because some congregants want change because a new “trend” has evolved and appears to be working in other churches. Change proponents often push enthusiastically and unrelentingly for popular new ideas to be implemented. Often they do so without addressing the change forces pushing upon others (such as life-cycle or conflict-orientated forces). Thus, trend-orientated leaders are seen as dividing the congregation and/or not sensitive to the church’s unity and health.

Trend-orientated Forces tools.

The primary tools used to handle trend-orientated forces is to help all factions see that a popular program or strategy will only fix part of the problem, and that a successful approach must address all forces pushing for change.

Fashionable programs are usually beneficial, but are perceived by life-cycle and conflict-oriented leaders as incomplete or inauthentic. Another tool is to examine the trend carefully and adapt it to the local situation. Thus, leaders must slowly foster compromise, show how their strategy addresses the church life-cycle as well as demonstrates how a strategy can be measurable.

A collage of tools to address your four forces

There are three steps in holistic change. Step one is to determine which forces are pushing for change in your church. This inaugural steps means studying the above definitions with your leaders, reading appropriate books (see the endnotes) and using round-table discussions to create a list of the change forces evident in your church.

The second step is to list the change

Controlling Change

Step 1

Determine which of the four forces are pushing for change in your church.

Step 2

List the change forces by their relative strength.

Step 3

Create a collage of tools (from the lists in this article) to control all of the four forces pushing for change.

forces by their relative strength. Some forces will be pushing more forcefully, while others may be present but diminutive. The ranking is subjective, and thus it is important to get as many segments of the church involved as possible. Remember, some congregants may be ostracized or excluded from the leadership process, and yet they may be feeling the push of other forces. Thus, bring as many segments of the church as possible into this listing to ensure all forces pushing for change are identified and ranked.

Finally in step 3 create a collage of tools from the above lists to control change. Organization theorist Mary Jo Hatch believes most effective theories are “collages” or a patchwork of tactics (Hatch 1997). This is required because each local church is unique and the most effective strategies will be those adapted to all the forces present on the local level.

The future of changing churches: four force models.

Many books today are focused on encouraging church change. But few actually address how to do it. Yet, in my consulting practice I have noticed that it is not a desire to change that is missing, buy that most church leaders just don’t know “how” to create positive change. Understanding that there are often four forces pushing for change simultaneously, discovering the relative strength of each, and then combining tools to create a collage tactic are the first steps toward long-term and effective church change.

(The above was reprinted with permission from Church Executive Magazine.  Download the original article here:  ARTICLE_Four Forces-Whitesel (Church Executive Article)

Works Cited

Collins, Jim, and Jerry I. Porras. 2004. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. New York, NY: Collins Business.

Dyck, Bruno, and Frederick A. Starke. 1999. The Formation of Breakaway Organizations: Observations and a Process Model. Administrative Science Quarterly 44:792-822.

Hatch, Mary Jo. 1997. Organization Theory: Modern, Symbolic and Postmodern Perspectives. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

McGavran, Donald A. 1970. Understanding Church Growth. rev. ed., 1980 ed. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Poole, Marshall Scott, and Andrew H. Van de Ven. 1995. Explaining Development and Change in Organizations. Academy of Management Review (20):510-540.

———, eds. 2004. Handbook of Organizational Change and Innovation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Starke, Frederick A., and Bruno Dyck. 1996. Upheavals in Congregations: The Causes and Outcomes of Splits. Review of Religious Research 38:159-174.

Whitesel, Bob. 2003. Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change (And What You Can Do About It). Nashville: Abingdon Press.