CHANGE & Dobson’s comparative analysis of the process models of Kotter, Lewin & Ulrich.

by Barbara Dobson, Caribbean Wesleyan College.

Section of Chapter 2 of her book– “Transformational and Strategic Leadership: Its Impact on the Capacity for Organizational Effectiveness”

Processes Involved in Effecting Organizational Change

The process of effecting organizational change over thecenturies has undergone major shifts that impacted greatly on the organization. Models after models have been developed, each playing its part, as leaders try to find what might be considered a suitable model. Organizations can employ different models as they examine the process of change.

Change process models. Several different models show how to approach change. According to Gilley, Godek and Gilley, “[E]arly models of change advocated a three-step process that involved first diagnosing and preparing the organization for change, secondly engaging in the change, and thirdly anchoring new ways into the culture” (4). In reviewing the literature, I discovered that the change models themselves have seen an evolutionary shift as theorists build on each other’s work due to the movement occurring in the leadership arena. 

The shift that has taken place in organizational leadership has seen more involvement of employees and other stakeholders in decision making. To accommodate this shift therefore, theorists (Kotter, Leading Change59-67) have included more dimensions within the process of leading change that allows for a wider involvement of other persons within the organization instead of top management only. 

Illustratively, an examination of K. Lewin’s change model reveals a disparity with the terminology used to describe each step in the process, even though the actions are the same in other models. Additionally, Lewin’s model does not reflect the shift that has taken place, and understandably so, because during the birth of this model, the shift had not yet occurred. Lewin’s three stages consist of Unfreezing, Movement, and Refreezing. The actions within the unfreezing stage are a conditioning of individuals and organizations for change, an assessment of the readiness for change, and an establishing of ownership (Kotter and Ulrich’s first stage). The momentum during this time is dependent on the leaders and how aligned they are to introduce change and plan to execute that change. In the movement stage, individuals engage in change initiatives (Kotter and Ulrich’s second stage) and in the refreezing stage, individuals’ daily routine now reflects the change, new behaviors are crystallized and have become the norm of the organization (Kotter and Ulrich’s third stage). 

Kotter suggests eight stages in the process of effecting organizational change, these include “establishing a sense of urgency, creating the guiding coalition, developing a vision and strategy, communicating the change vision, empowering employees to broad-based action, generating short-term wins, consolidating gains and producing more change, anchoring new approaches in the culture” (Leading Change366).D. Ulrich suggests seven stages outlined as follows: “lead change, create a shared need, shape a vision, mobilize commitment, change systems and structures, monitor progress and making change last”(Gilley, Ann, Marisha Godek and Jerry W. Gilley 5).Table 2.1 is a conceptual, comparison table of the three models discussed.

 

Table 2.1. Comparison of Change Model

Source: Gilley, Ann, Marisha Godek and Jerry W. Gilley (5). 

A review of the Ulrich and J. P. Kotter processes of change reveals some measure of difference. This difference is translated in the sense that Kotter’s model provides an understanding of the how to of Ulrich’s model. For example, Ulrich’s first step suggests that leaders of change lead change. Kotter’s first stage went a bit further by stating how to lead this change, establishing a sense of urgency. Interestingly, all the succeeding steps follow the same trend. 

An evaluation of these models will not yield a comparative model in the sense of which is the best one of the three to use. However, they do lend themselves to a better understanding of the change process. I believe that an integration of those steps allows the church as an organization to produce a culture inclined for change within the organization, and thus creates a fertile soil for the implementation of strategic leadership. The LUK’s integrative Change Model is an integration of Lewin’s, Ulrich’s, and Kotter’s change models. The integrative approach describes a model that will adequately lead the change necessary within the church. The diagram represents the different actions that develop a culture of change within the organization. The different colors indicate the varying steps within the process, with each step connecting to the other, and the arrows show the progression to follow. The model also suggests that the change process continues and commitment must be garnered until all the steps are duly followed (see Figure 2.1).

Figure 2.1. LUK’s integrative change model. (Actions that develop a culture of change)

Kotter foresees a challenge for leaders pertaining to leading the change necessary for effectiveness, he purports: 

[T]he primary purpose of the first six phases of the transformation process is to build up sufficient momentum to blast through the dysfunctional “granite walls found in so many organizations; to ignore these steps is to put all efforts made at risk.” (Leading Change 1967)

As a result, stages seven and eight are even more critical, and will be the determining factor in whether or not a cultural change has happened. He further states, “Culture changes only after you have successfully altered people’s actions, after the new behavior produces some group benefit for a period of time, and after people see the connection between the new actions and the performance improvement” (2368-69), all of which occur during the seventh and eighth stages.

Organizations that are as old as the church can be a challenge for change, especially where persons perceive that the suggested movement will impact the traditions of the church. In churches where traditions are like granite walls, leaders of change will need to tread gingerly and judiciously assess what can change. Scriptures indicate the implications of “sewing old garments unto new ones” (Matthew 9:16) or “putting new wine in old wine skins” (Matthew 9:17). This consideration necessitates a shattering of the old culture before trying to introduce the new, especially where the former is one that is not congruent with the change that needs to takes place. 

The church as an organization embraces two types of traditions. One is human-made tradition, that is, those rules, principles, and unwritten codes laid down by founders of the organization that have become its core culture. These are to be examined and changed. Second are biblical traditions embedded in what is known as the apostolic tradition. These traditions are very critical to the formation of core values of the church. I believe these traditions should not be compromised as they define the difference between the church and secular organizations.

The examination—with a view to shatter those human-made traditions—becomes necessary for change to happen. Chand posits that the church “must re-dream the dream to discover a new and compelling vision for its existence” (emphasis mine; 2368). If the church is not willing to be open to the idea of transformation, then the ability to re-dream will be greatly hindered, if not impossible. The result is a lapse into a maintenance mode of leadership. During the re-dreaming process, the organization will realize its greatest potential and the need for change in order to adapt to the new and compelling vision developed during this process. The leader as change agent needs to find a way to communicate this change….

#CaribbeanGraduateSchoolOfTheology

Eight (8) Research Proven, Field-tested Steps to Change a Church (seminar presentation w/ handouts)

8Steps4Change.church LOGO.pngby Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D., 6/21/15. (adapted and annotated by the author from his book with Mark DeYmaz, reMix: Transitioning Your Church to Living Color, Abingdon Press, 2017).

So, what steps are required to transition a church?  Just 8 really.

John Kotter is a renowned and respected change coach who perfected eight steps for organizational change that have been applied successfully to thousands of organizational transitions.1  Harvard Business Review said, “Perhaps nobody understands the anatomy of organizational change better than retired Harvard Business School professor John P. Kotter.”2

NOTE:  Here is a link Kotter’s seminal 1995 article and #InfoGraphic on change and the best overview of this Harvard professor’s change methods.

I have consulted or mentored hundreds of church transitions. And, I have found Kotter’s eight stages to be reliable, valid and important steps for a healthy church transition to living color.

Here are the key phases for implementing the principles and procedures of a church revitalization.

figure-whitesel-kotters-8-steps-for-church

8 Steps to Transforming Your Church 3

1. “Establishing a Sense of Urgency.”

  • It is important to begin with a period of time where you acquaint the congregants with the need and Biblical mandate for transitioning to a church living color.  Because of the urgent situation, many church leaders will be tempted to ignore this step and launch headlong into transition.  Yet, in my consulting work I have found that this step is critical.  Pray, study, research and dialogue on the importance of a church transition first.
  • Share the urgency is multiple venues.  Don’t just use sermons, but let this be the topic of Bible studies, discussion groups, prayer groups, small groups and Sunday School classes.

““Son of man, I’ve made you a watchman for the family of Israel. Whenever you hear me say something, warn them for me. If I say to the wicked, ‘You are going to die,’ and you don’t sound the alarm warning them that it’s a matter of life or death, they will die and it will be your fault. I’ll hold you responsible. But if you warn the wicked and they keep right on sinning anyway, they’ll most certainly die for their sin, but you won’t die. You’ll have saved your life.”
‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭3:17-19‬ ‭MSG‬‬ https://www.bible.com/bible/97/ezk.3.17-19.msg

  • Remember, urgency is a key.  Congregants must understand that we are today at the point where changes in communities across North America requires churches to stand up for Biblical principles of growth and change.

2. “Forming a Powerful Guiding Coalition.”

  • The second step which you must successfully navigate is the development of an influential and guiding coalition.  Even though you might think you know the situation the best, due to history, education or background: a church is a communal organization and leadership works best when there is a communal leadership.  Find those that resonate with the transition and help them take the vision to the rest of the congregation.
  • Look for “persons of peace.”  When Jesus told his disciples to spread out and take their message to the byways and villages of the Israel, he suggested they rely upon persons of “peace” they might encounter (Luke 10:6).  The Greek word for peace is derived from the word “to join” and it literally means a person who helps people from divergent viewpoints and even warring convictions to join together in unity whereby oneness, peace, quietness and rest result.4 So, enlist people who are “peacemakers” who have demonstrated they can bring warring and opposing parties together.
  • Listen to the naysayers, even though they may not be part of your guiding coalition, your coalition should hear them out.  This is a step that if overlooked will usually splinter the congregation. This is because research has shown that unless you go to the naysayers and listen to them, they will feel left out of the consultative process and eventually fight the change.5  So go to those who will most affected or displaced and listen to them.  Hearing them out has been shown to create new networks of dialogue that can prevent polarization.  But, you must go to them early in the vision creating process. And, because they have a long history and historical friendships in the church, they will not leave (even if you want them to). This video illustrates how getting someone who is attached to your (spiritual) family to leave is not easy to do.

https://youtu.be/0pKymngWgJw

3. “Creating a Vision.”

  • People must see the future before they can work toward it.  The goal is to have an easy to read, clear vision statement in no more than a paragraph.
  • Get all of the members of your guiding coalition to help you draft, refine and edit your vision. NOTE: vision & mission are often confused, but very different. At this link I explain how to differentiate them: https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2018/10/17/change-why-it-wont-happen-unless-you-understand-the-important-difference-between-mission-vision/
  • Many times church leaders rely solely on a written statement of vision. While this is helpful (if drawn up with input from your guiding coalition, see above) you must create a vision with the following “communication elements” too.

NOTE:  A vision should be a “visual representation” of what the church will look like in 5 years.  USE:  (a.) A small group to create, (b) a short statement to communicate.  Here is an article on “The Art of Crafting a 15-word Strategy Statement” from Harvard Business Review  Good vision statements and Poor Vision Statements (compared) which states there are …”two requirements:

  • Focus: What you want to offer to the target customer and what you don’t;
  • Difference: Why your value proposition is divergent from competitive alternatives.”

4. “Communicating the Vision.”

  • Use all communication vehicles available to you: written, vocal, electronic, narrative, arts, mixed-media, etc.
  • Experience it first-hand by taking your leaders and congregants to places where turnaround ministry is being done. In these locales congregants can see first hand, ask questions and experience the heart of a ministry that is being revitalized. Vision can be communicated best by picturing something rather than just writing out a paragraph of technical terms.
  • stone-stack-sign-1500x430Use stories to help people picture change.  Scott Wilcher while studying change found that successful change is more than twice as likely to occur if you attach a story to depict the change.6  In the Bible you can find dozens of Biblical stories that depict change.  Attach these stories to the vision to make the vision “come to life in a story” (after all that is what Jesus did with his compelling use of parables).

NOTE:  Read more of 12Stone’s story here.  CLICK here for a HANDOUT >>> HANDOUT Whitesel – Metaphor (popular) copy about how metaphor increases change from 30% success rate to 85% success rate.

SLIDE Metaphor 85% = 30% Change based on Wilcher

5. “Empowering Others to Act on the Vision.”

  • Delegate your power to others.  Too many times passionate church leaders are tempted to go it alone. One pastor said, “Jesus had to do it alone.”  And atonement and redemption were definitely things that only the Son of God could accomplish. But remember, he rounded-up and delegated to his disciples his ministry (Matthew 10, Mark 6, Luke 9, 10).  You too must delegate to those you have mentored.
  • Create accountability.  Because the Good News (Matt. 28:19-20) is so essential, it requires that evaluation and accountability be central too.  Have regular checkup discussions with clear objectives.
  • Remember, because change can be polarizing, oversight and accountability for progress are essential.

6. “Planning for and Creating Short-Term Wins.”

NOTE:  This is probably the most overlooked step.

  • This is the key step most overlooked.  Kotter discovered, and we have confirmed in our church consulting, that short-term wins help people see the validity and direction of a new vision.
  • Short-term wins are projects, programs and processes that can be undertaken quickly and temporarily. They usually won’t change the long-term outcomes (yet).  But they demonstrate the validity of the transition in a quick, temporary way.  Thus, they pave the way for long-term wins.
  • Many short-term wins will convince reticent constituents of long-term legitimacy of the new direction.
  • Use temporary “task forces” instead of semi-permanent committees to investigate and launch new directions in ministries.  Then as task forces prove their effectiveness they can be transitioned into more permanent committees.

7. “Using increased credibility to change systems, structures, and policies that don’t fit the vision.”

  • As noted above, wins even in the short-term can give the leadership coalition the social capital to make structural changes.
  • Don’t start with structural changes. You haven’t got enough buy-in from hesitant members and/or most of the congregation.
  • Only after your short-term wins validate your approach will you be able to change systems, structures and policies.

NOTE:  There is a “continuum” or “progress toward” better models for a multicultural (or multiethnic) church.  All are found in The Healthy Church (Wesleyan Publishing House).  Here are three from good … better … and best: 5 Models of Miltiethnic Churches

8. “Institutionalizing New Approaches.”

  • As your ministry moves in the exciting direction of revitalized ministry, encourage an organizational structure that promotes this in the future.
  • Institutionalizing principles of church transformation will allow you to reach out to new people and cultures as they develop in your community.
  • Finally for long-term health and viability, the revitalized church of must acquire a personality and reputation as a church of consistency in theology but change in Godly methodology.

You can download the article here >> WHITESEL ARTICLE 8 Steps to Changing a Church

Below is the slide I use in my presentations >>

figure-whitesel-kotters-8-steps-for-church

ENDNOTES:

1 John Kotter, Leading Change, (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1996), John Kotter, “Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail,” Harvard Business Review (Boston, Harvard Business Publishing, 2007), retrieved from https://hbr.org/2007/01/leading-change-why-transformation-efforts-fail/ar/1

2  Editor’s note to John Kotter, ibid. Harvard Business Review.

3  John Kotter, “Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail,” Harvard Business Review (Boston, Harvard Business Publishing, 2007), retrieved from https://hbr.org/2007/01/leading-change-why-transformation-efforts-fail/ar/1

4 James Strong The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Carol Stream, IL: Thomas Nelson, 1990), 1515.

5 Bob Whitesel, Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change and What You Can Do About It (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002) and Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2008).

Scott Wilcher, MetaSpeak: Secrets of Regenerative Leadership to Transform your Workplace, Ph.D. dissertation (Nashville: Turnaround 2020 Conference, 2013).

VIDEO of Scott Wilchert explaining the role of metaphor/story in communicating change:

Scott Wilchert, MetaSpeak: Secrets of Regenerative Leadership (Nashville: Turnaround 2020 Conference, 2013), video at this link.

ADDITIONAL FOOTNOTES for PowerPoint slides:

F. J. Barrett and D.L. Cooperrider, Generative metaphor intervention: A new approach for working with systems divided by conflict and caught in defensive perception, Journal of Applied Behavioral Science (Maryland: Silver Springs, NTL Institute, 1990) Vol. 26, pp. 219-239

Julia Balogun and Veronica Hope Hailey, Exploring Strategic Change, 3rd Edition (New York: Pierson Publishing, 2008).

G. Bushe and A. Kassam,  When is Appreciative Inquiry Transformational? A Meta-Case Analysis, Journal of Applied Behavioral Science (Maryland: Silver Springs, NTL Institute, 2005) Vol. 41, pp. 161-18.

Sohail Inayatullah, “From Organizational to Institutional Change,” On the Horizon (London: Emerald Publishing, 2005), Vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 46-53.

Speaking hashtags: #CaribbeanGraduateSchoolOfTheology 8Steps4Change.church 8Steps4Change.com

 

 

MULTICULTURAL & 8 Steps to Transitioning to 1 of 5 Models of a Multicultural Church #GCRNJournal

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., The Great Commission Research Journal, Biola University, 3/1/17.

Abstract

Theories of change and theories of changing 1 are insufficiently studied, hence often inadequately understood by the ecclesial academy. The few theories that are available are based on an author’s experience with singular process model developed from similar homogeneous contexts. However, the present author, reflecting on case studies over a ten-year window, strengthens the argument for a holistic, eight-step model as first developed by John P. Kotter at Harvard University. Whitesel argues that the eight-step process model is resident and visible in ecclesiological change. He then suggests that the requisite change objective for many churches will be a heterogeneous, multicultural model, which will intentionally or unintentionally follow one or more of the five classifications.

Delivered to the Great Commission Research Network, Oct. 6, 2016, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, TX

Author Dr. Robert Whitesel Pages 212 – 222

The need for research by the Academy.

In my literature review on ecclesial change 2 I found that most popular books on church change are penned by prominent (e.g. megachurch) authors who customarily tout one model that has worked for her or him. Subsequently, overall general principles of organizational change in the ecclesial context are contextually bound and may be too narrow.

In addition, a theology of change/changing is poorly understood. Yet, both the Bible and church history are replete with ecclesial change, e.g. from old covenant to new covenant (Hebrews 8:13, Col. 2:16-17) and from monarchies (1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings), to oligarchies (e.g. Judges) to synodical forms of government (e.g. the council of Jerusalem, Acts 15, 1-12, see Schaff, 1910, p. 504)

To establish a theological context for church change, I penned three chapters in the book Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church. This current article will assume that either the reader has read those chapters or will consult them later. Subsequently, the present discussion will be delimited to the theory and practice of changing with one of five potential multicultural objectives.3

A case study basis for research.

Reliable and valid process models usually arise from examining and comparing numerous case studies. In this regard, the best organizational researcher may be John P. Kotter, former professor at Harvard Business School. Having read hundreds, if not thousands of student case studies, he began to formulate a process model that would explain successful change. His seminal article in Harvard Business Review titled “Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail,” created a seismic shift in the way organizational theorists and practitioners applied the change process. His theory of changing as reflected in his 8-steps for leading change became a staple for the study of organizational change in business schools and increasingly in seminaries.

In my position as professor of missional leadership for over a decade, first at Indiana Wesleyan University and then at Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University, I have been afforded the opportunity to also study hundreds of student case studies on ecclesial change. I have observed that ecclesial change follows very closely Kotter’s 8-step model. In this paper I will briefly explain how Kotter’s model can inform a process model for ecclesial change.

Outcomes: 5 Models of Multicultural Churches

As mentioned above, a delimiter for this article is that I will consider objectives with more colorful (i.e. multicultural) outcomes. I do this because of my research interest and because it is of growing relevance to homogeneous churches in an increasingly heterogeneous world. I employ the term multicultural in the broadest sociological sense and a list of ethnic, generational, socioeconomic, affinity, etc. cultures as relevant to this discussion can be found in The Healthy Church, pp. 58-59.

In a previous article for The Great Commission Research Journal, I put forth in detail five multicultural models as a contemporary update of the historical categories of Sanchez (1976). I also demonstrated some of these models afford a more comprehensive and reconciliation-based approach. I then evaluated each model through a 10-point grid of “nomenclature, mode of growth, relationships, pluses, minuses, degree of difficulty, creator complex, redistribution, relocation and reconciliation” (2014). This present article will assume that the reader has access to this article for further reading. An overview of the five models will frame the process model’s objectives….

Read more here (purchase a copy) … http://journals.biola.edu/gcr/volumes/8/issues/2/articles/212

Students/researchers may read more here by downloading for personal use: ARTICLE CGRJ 8 Steps to Transitioning to One of Five Models of a Multicultural Church

GCRJ Article 8 Steps to Multicultural Website COVER copy.jpg

Footnotes:

1 There is an important difference between theories of change and theories of changing. The latter, and the focus of this article, investigate how to control and manage change. Theories of change however seek to understand how change occurs. I have discussed theories of change as well as theologies of change in the book Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2007). For a fuller treatment of the differences between theories of change and theories of changing see Warren G. Bennis, Changing Organizations (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996).

2 This article will expand some of my previous theorizing as represented in two of my books: Preparing for change reaction: How to introduce change in your church (2007) and The healthy church: practical ways to strengthen a church’s heart (2013). In addition, my initial thoughts on the “How to Change a Church in 8 Steps” can be found in my article of the same title for “Church Revitalizer Magazine.”

3 I embrace the term multicultural in lieu of multiethnic or multiracial, because the latter carry important implications for reconciliation between cultures that have been polarized by violence and bigotry. My co-author Mark DeYmaz and I in re:MIX – Transitioning your church to living color (2016) spend several chapters addressing the importance of multiethnic and multiracial reconciliation. The reader of this present article should consult our more exhaustive treatment there. Thus, the present article will be delimited to general procedures, processes and plans that can result in a multicultural church regardless if that cultural mix is ethnic cultures, affinity cultures, generational cultures, social economic cultures, etc.

MANAGEMENT & Leadership: The difference according to Harvard prof. John Kotter

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel. The following is a helpful synopsis on this relationship penned by one of my LEAD 600 students:

John Kotter (2012, p. 71) includes six characteristics or “-abilities” for an effective vision. It is to be

  • Imaginable: Conveys a picture of what the future will look like.
  • Desirable: Appeals to the long-term interests of employees, customers, stockholders, and others who have a stake in the enterprise
  • Feasible: Comprises realistic, attainable goals.
  • Focused: Is clear enough to provide guidance in decision making
  • Flexible: Is general enough to allow individual initiative and alternative responses in light of changing conditions
  • Communicable: Is easy to communicate; can be successfully explained within five minutes

Kotter (2012) also notes that a vision is only one element in a larger system that includes strategies, plans, and budgets (p. 70). I like how he diagrams it (p. 71):

ViewAttachment?fileId=52654

This may be a good framework to use for anchoring vision in the context of our Leadership and Management Growth plans.

Grace & Peace, Larry

Kotter, J. (2012). Leading Change. [Kindle DX eBook version]. Retrieved from www.amazon.com

Save

CHANGE & How to Change a Ministry in 8 Stages (multicultural seminar presentation)

by Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D., 6/21/15. (adapted and annotated for seminars by the author from his book with Mark DeYmaz, reMix: Transitioning Your Church to Living Color, Abingdon Press, 2017).

So, what steps are required to transition a church? Just 8 actually.

John Kotter is a renowned and respected change coach who perfected eight steps for organizational change that have been applied successfully to thousands of organizational transitions.1  Harvard Business Review said, “Perhaps nobody understands the anatomy of organizational change better than retired Harvard Business School professor John P. Kotter.”2

NOTE:  Here is a link Kotter’s seminal 1995 article and #InfoGraphic on change and the best overview of this Harvard professor’s change methods.

I have consulted or mentored hundreds of church transitions. And, I have found Kotter’s eight stages to be reliable, valid and important steps for a healthy church transition to living color.

Here are the key phases for implementing the principles and procedures of a church revitalization.

figure-whitesel-kotters-8-steps-for-church

remix cover

8 Steps to Transforming Your Church 3

1. “Establishing a Sense of Urgency.”

  • It is important to begin with a period of time where you acquaint the congregants with the need and Biblical mandate for transitioning to a church living color.  Because of the urgent situation, many church leaders will be tempted to ignore this step and launch headlong into transition.  Yet, in my consulting work I have found that this step is critical.  Pray, study, research and dialogue on the importance of a church transition first.
  • Share the urgency is multiple venues.  Don’t just use sermons, but let this be the topic of Bible studies, discussion groups, prayer groups, small groups and Sunday School classes.
  • Remember, urgency is a key.  Congregants must understand that we are today at the point where changes in communities across North America requires churches to stand up for Biblical principles of growth and change.

2. “Forming a Powerful Guiding Coalition.”

  • The second step which you must successfully navigate is the development of an influential and guiding coalition.  Even though you might think you know the situation the best, due to history, education or background: a church is a communal organization and leadership works best when there is a communal leadership.  Find those that resonate with the transition and help them take the vision to the rest of the congregation.
  • Look for “persons of peace.”  When Jesus told his disciples to spread out and take their message to the byways and villages of the Israel, he suggested they rely upon persons of “peace” they might encounter (Luke 10:6).  The Greek word for peace is derived from the word “to join” and it literally means a person who helps people from divergent viewpoints and even warring convictions to join together in unity whereby oneness, peace, quietness and rest result.4 So, enlist people who are “peacemakers” who have demonstrated they can bring warring and opposing parties together.
  • Listen to the naysayers, even though they may not be part of your guiding coalition, your coalition should hear them out.  This is a step that if overlooked will usually splinter the congregation. This is because research has shown that unless you go to the naysayers and listen to them, they will feel left out of the consultative process and eventually fight the change.5  So go to those who will most affected or displaced and listen to them.  Hearing them out has been shown to create new networks of dialogue that can prevent polarization.  But, you must go to them early in the vision creating process.

3. “Creating a Vision.”

  • People must see the future before they can work toward it.  The goal is to have an easy to read, clear vision statement in no more than a paragraph.
  • Get all of the members of your guiding coalition to help you draft, refine and edit your vision. NOTE: vision & mission are often confused, but very different. At this link I explain how to differentiate them: https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2018/10/17/change-why-it-wont-happen-unless-you-understand-the-important-difference-between-mission-vision/
  • Many times church leaders rely solely on a written statement of vision. While this is helpful (if drawn up with input from your guiding coalition, see above) you must create a vision with the following “communication elements” too.

NOTE:  A vision should be a “visual representation” of what the church will look like in 5 years.  USE:  (a.) A small group to create, (b) a short statement to communicate.  Here is an article on “The Art of Crafting a 15-word Strategy Statement” from Harvard Business Review  Good vision statements and Poor Vision Statements (compared).

4. “Communicating the Vision.”

  • Use all communication vehicles available to you: written, vocal, electronic, narrative, arts, mixed-media, etc.
  • Experience it first-hand by taking your leaders and congregants to places where turnaround ministry is being done. In these locales congregants can see first hand, ask questions and experience the heart of a ministry that is being revitalized. Vision can be communicated best by picturing something rather than just writing out a paragraph of technical terms.
  • stone-stack-sign-1500x430Use stories to help people picture change.  Scott Wilcher while studying change found that successful change is more than twice as likely to occur if you attach a story to depict the change.6  In the Bible you can find dozens of Biblical stories that depict change.  Attach these stories to the vision to make the vision “come to life in a story” (after all that is what Jesus did with his compelling use of parables).

NOTE:  Read more of 12Stone’s story here.  CLICK here for a HANDOUT >>> HANDOUT Whitesel – Metaphor (popular) copy about how metaphor increases change from 30% success rate to 85% success rate.

SLIDE Metaphor 85% = 30% Change based on Wilcher

5. “Empowering Others to Act on the Vision.”

  • Delegate your power to others.  Too many times passionate church leaders are tempted to go it alone. One pastor said, “Jesus had to do it alone.”  And atonement and redemption were definitely things that only the Son of God could accomplish. But remember, he rounded-up and delegated to his disciples his ministry (Matthew 10, Mark 6, Luke 9, 10).  You too must delegate to those you have mentored.
  • Create accountability.  Because the Good News (Matt. 28:19-20) is so essential, it requires that evaluation and accountability be central too.  Have regular checkup discussions with clear objectives.
  • Remember, because change can be polarizing, oversight and accountability for progress are essential.

6. “Planning for and Creating Short-Term Wins.”

NOTE:  This is probably the most overlooked step.

  • This is the key step most overlooked.  Kotter discovered, and we have confirmed in our church consulting, that short-term wins help people see the validity and direction of a new vision.
  • Short-term wins are projects, programs and processes that can be undertaken quickly and temporarily. They usually won’t change the long-term outcomes (yet).  But they demonstrate the validity of the transition in a quick, temporary way.  Thus, they pave the way for long-term wins.
  • Many short-term wins will convince reticent constituents of long-term legitimacy of the new direction.
  • Use temporary “task forces” instead of semi-permanent committees to investigate and launch new directions in ministries.  Then as task forces prove their effectiveness they can be transitioned into more permanent committees.

7. “Using increased credibility to change systems, structures, and policies that don’t fit the vision.”

  • As noted above, wins even in the short-term can give the leadership coalition the social capital to make structural changes.
  • Don’t start with structural changes. You haven’t got enough buy-in from hesitant members and/or most of the congregation.
  • Only after your short-term wins validate your approach will you be able to change systems, structures and policies.

NOTE:  There is a “continuum” or “progress toward” better models for a multicultural (or multiethnic) church.  All are found in The Health Church (Wesleyan Publishing House).  Here are three from good … better … and best:

FIGURE ©Whitesel HEALTHY Multicultural Partnership copyFIGURE ©Whitesel HEALTHY Multicultural Mother Daughter copy

FIGURE ©Whitesel HEALTHY Multicultural Alliance copy

8. “Institutionalizing New Approaches.”

  • As your ministry moves in the exciting direction of revitalized ministry, encourage an organizational structure that promotes this in the future.
  • Institutionalizing principles of church transformation will allow you to reach out to new people and cultures as they develop in your community.
  • Finally for long-term health and viability, the revitalized church of must acquire a personality and reputation as a church of consistency in theology but change in Godly methodology.

You can download the article here >> WHITESEL ARTICLE 8 Steps to Changing a Church

Below is the slide I use in my presentations >>

figure-whitesel-kotters-8-steps-for-church

ENDNOTES:

1 John Kotter, Leading Change, (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1996), John Kotter, “Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail,” Harvard Business Review (Boston, Harvard Business Publishing, 2007), retrieved from https://hbr.org/2007/01/leading-change-why-transformation-efforts-fail/ar/1

2  Editor’s note to John Kotter, ibid. Harvard Business Review.

3  John Kotter, “Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail,” Harvard Business Review (Boston, Harvard Business Publishing, 2007), retrieved from https://hbr.org/2007/01/leading-change-why-transformation-efforts-fail/ar/1

4 James Strong The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Carol Stream, IL: Thomas Nelson, 1990), 1515.

5 Bob Whitesel, Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change and What You Can Do About It (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002) and Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2008).

Scott Wilcher, MetaSpeak: Secrets of Regenerative Leadership to Transform your Workplace, Ph.D. dissertation (Nashville: Turnaround 2020 Conference, 2013).

VIDEO of Scott Wilchert explaining the role of metaphor/story in communicating change:

Scott Wilchert, MetaSpeak: Secrets of Regenerative Leadership (Nashville: Turnaround 2020 Conference, 2013), video at this link.

ADDITIONAL FOOTNOTES for PowerPoint slides:

F. J. Barrett and D.L. Cooperrider, Generative metaphor intervention: A new approach for working with systems divided by conflict and caught in defensive perception, Journal of Applied Behavioral Science (Maryland: Silver Springs, NTL Institute, 1990) Vol. 26, pp. 219-239

Julia Balogun and Veronica Hope Hailey, Exploring Strategic Change, 3rd Edition (New York: Pierson Publishing, 2008).

G. Bushe and A. Kassam,  When is Appreciative Inquiry Transformational? A Meta-Case Analysis, Journal of Applied Behavioral Science (Maryland: Silver Springs, NTL Institute, 2005) Vol. 41, pp. 161-18.

Sohail Inayatullah, “From Organizational to Institutional Change,” On the Horizon (London: Emerald Publishing, 2005), Vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 46-53.

Speaking hashtags: #BreakForth16 #Renovate15 #ChurchRevitalization #TheologicalReflection #Renovate16 DMin #Kingswood2018 #TransformationalLeadershipConference #CLIOrlando2018

GROUP EXIT & A Review of “Leading Change” by John Kotter (Harvard Business Review Press)

Quotes: “Change sticks only when it becomes ‘the way we do things around here’ when it seeps into the very bloodstream of the work unit or corporate body … (but) The combination of cultures that resist change and managers who have not been taught how to create change is lethal… In an organization with 100 employees, at least two dozen must go far beyond the normal call of duty to produce a significant change” (Kotter).”

By Rev. Jeff Lawson, lead pastor, Life Church, Aurora, IN, 1/19/16.

Leading Change by John P Kotter was not written for pastors, but it is my conviction that every pastor should read this book. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to any person who is involved in leadership.

In this rapidly changing world, Kotter gives a clear cut guide regarding how to be a leader that champions change. He says, “Change sticks only when it becomes ‘the way we do things around here’ when it seeps into the very bloodstream of the work unit or corporate body.” So the process for the leader is to take the idea and slowly work to develop a guiding coalition until it becomes the norm.

When I pastored in Illinois the church quickly went from a church of 30 to a church of 100 in less than a year. Every single Sunday would bring new faces to our growing congregation. With those new faces came new problems. I believe if I had read Leading Change before I arrived at my church that I would have been ready to handle the coming problems.

There are potential pitfalls that the leader must foresee and battle. One of those battles are with those who oppose the change. Kotter says, “The combination of cultures that resist change and managers who have not been taught how to create change is lethal.” This is why it is imperative that the leader is prepared for opposition. I was not prepared in my church in Illinois.

I challenged the congregation that if we had 100 in attendance for Easter Sunday that they could put a pie in my face. We had more than 150 with more than a dozen first time decisions for Christ. I exclaimed during the service that we had a unique problem. I told them we had to begin to think about adding on to receive the new attenders that God was sending us. The next day the elders came in with another option. It was time for me to resign my position as pastor. I was all wrong on how I introduced change and those who opposed it had already dug in their heels.

In retrospect I should have spent more time in building the vision of the church to the leadership. Kotter says, “Vision plays a key role in producing useful change by helping direct, align, and inspire actions on the part of large numbers of people.” If the leadership had walked the path to see the vision coming to fruition it would have been more feasible for them to accept the needed change that they were experiencing. What I was proposing was coming solely at this time from me. Kotter says, “In an organization with 100 employees, at least two dozen must go far beyond the normal call of duty to produce a significant change.” I had yet to build a team that was ready to see the vision happen.

Even with the church growing, people coming to Christ, the giving at an all-time high, and an eager excitement oozing from the new attenders I failed to realize what Kotter said, “Never underestimate the magnitude of the forces that reinforce complacency and that help maintain the status quo.” When the elders came to me the next morning they had more than enough support to ask for my resignation. “A strong guiding coalition is always needed-one with the right composition, level of trust, and shared objective.” I had none of these, and by the time that my District Superintendent got involved, it was too late

The problems in my church were good problems, but even so, they were problems. I wonder at times how things might have been different if I had introduced change at a slower pace with better methods and a grand plan.

Thankfully we can learn from our mistakes and learn from competent leaders like Kotter and break such cycles.

CHANGE & How to Change a Ministry in 8 Stages

by Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D., 6/21/15. Adapted by the author from his book with Mark DeYmaz, reMix: Transitioning Your Church to Living Color, Abingdon Press, 2017 and as published in Church Revitalizer Magazine (Orlando, FL: The Church Revitalizer Group, vol. 1, no. 5, Aug.-Sept. 2015) pp. 44-45.

So, what steps are required to transition a church? Just 8 actually.

John Kotter is a renowned and respected change coach who perfected eight steps for organizational change that have been applied successfully to thousands of organizational transitions.1  Harvard Business Review said, “Perhaps nobody understands the anatomy of organizational change better than retired Harvard Business School professor John P. Kotter.”2

I have consulted or mentored hundreds of church transitions. And, I have found Kotter’s eight stages to be reliable, valid and important steps for a healthy church transition to living color.

Here are the key phases for implementing the principles and procedures of a church revitalization.

remix cover

8 Steps to Transforming Your Church 3

1. “Establishing a Sense of Urgency.”

  • It is important to begin with a period of time where you acquaint the congregants with the need and Biblical mandate for transitioning to a church living color.  Because of the urgent situation, many church leaders will be tempted to ignore this step and launch headlong into transition.  Yet, in my consulting work I have found that this step is critical.  Pray, study, research and dialogue on the importance of a church transition first.
  • Share the urgency is multiple venues.  Don’t just use sermons, but let this be the topic of Bible studies, discussion groups, prayer groups, small groups and Sunday School classes.
  • Remember, urgency is a key.  Congregants must understand that we are today at the point where changes in communities across North America requires churches to stand up for Biblical principles of growth and change.

2. “Forming a Powerful Guiding Coalition.”

  • The second step which you must successfully navigate is the development of an influential and guiding coalition.  Even though you might think you know the situation the best, due to history, education or background: a church is a communal organization and leadership works best when there is a communal leadership.  Find those that resonate with the transition and help them take the vision to the rest of the congregation.
  • Look for “persons of peace.”  When Jesus told his disciples to spread out and take their message to the byways and villages of the Israel, he suggested they rely upon persons of “peace” they might encounter (Luke 10:6).  The Greek word for peace is derived from the word “to join” and it literally means a person who helps people from divergent viewpoints and even warring convictions to join together in unity whereby oneness, peace, quietness and rest result.4 So, enlist people who are “peacemakers” who have demonstrated they can bring warring and opposing parties together.
  • Listen to the naysayers, even though they may not be part of your guiding coalition, your coalition should hear them out.  This is a step that if overlooked will usually splinter the congregation. This is because research has shown that unless you go to the naysayers and listen to them, they will feel left out of the consultative process and eventually fight the change.5  So go to those who will most affected or displaced and listen to them.  Hearing them out has been shown to create new networks of dialogue that can prevent polarization.  But, you must go to them early in the vision creating process.

3. “Creating a Vision.”

  • People must see the future before they can work toward it.  The goal is to have an easy to read, clear vision statement in no more than a paragraph.
  • Get all of the members of your guiding coalition to help you draft, refine and edit your vision.
  • Many times church leaders rely solely on a written statement of vision. While this is helpful (if drawn up with input from your guiding coalition, see above) you must create a vision with the following “communication elements” too.

4. “Communicating the Vision.”

  • Use all communication vehicles available to you: written, vocal, electronic, narrative, arts, mixed-media, etc.
  • Experience it first-hand by taking your leaders and congregants to places where turnaround ministry is being done. In these locales congregants can see first hand, ask questions and experience the heart of a ministry that is being revitalized. Vision can be communicated best by picturing something rather than just writing out a paragraph of technical terms.
  • stone-stack-sign-1500x430Use stories to help people picture change.  Scott Wilcher while studying change found that successful change is more than twice as likely to occur if you attach a story to depict the change.6  In the Bible you can find dozens of Biblical stories that depict change.  Attach these stories to the vision to make the vision “come to life in a story” (after all that is what Jesus did with his compelling use of parables).

5. “Empowering Others to Act on the Vision.”

  • Delegate your power to others.  Too many times passionate church leaders are tempted to go it alone. One pastor said, “Jesus had to do it alone.”  And atonement and redemption were definitely things that only the Son of God could accomplish. But remember, he rounded-up and delegated to his disciples his ministry (Matthew 10, Mark 6, Luke 9, 10).  You too must delegate to those you have mentored.
  • Create accountability.  Because the Good News (Matt. 28:19-20) is so essential, it requires that evaluation and accountability be central too.  Have regular checkup discussions with clear objectives.
  • Remember, because change can be polarizing, oversight and accountability for progress are essential.

6. “Planning for and Creating Short-Term Wins.”

  • This is the key step most overlooked.  Kotter discovered, and we have confirmed in our church consulting, that short-term wins help people see the validity and direction of a new vision.
  • Short-term wins are projects, programs and processes that can be undertaken quickly and temporarily. They usually won’t change the long-term outcomes (yet).  But they demonstrate the validity of the transition in a quick, temporary way.  Thus, they pave the way for long-term wins.
  • Many short-term wins will convince reticent constituents of long-term legitimacy of the new direction.
  • Use temporary “task forces” instead of semi-permanent committees to investigate and launch new directions in ministries.  Then as task forces prove their effectiveness they can be transitioned into more permanent committees.

7. “Using increased credibility to change systems, structures, and policies that don’t fit the vision.”

  • As noted above, wins even in the short-term can give the leadership coalition the social capital to make structural changes.
  • Don’t start with structural changes. You haven’t got enough buy-in from hesitant members and/or most of the congregation.
  • Only after your short-term wins validate your approach will you be able to change systems, structures and policies.

8. “Institutionalizing New Approaches.”

  • As your ministry moves in the exciting direction of revitalized ministry, encourage an organizational structure that promotes this in the future.
  • Institutionalizing principles of church transformation will allow you to reach out to new people and cultures as they develop in your community.
  • Finally for long-term health and viability, the revitalized church of must acquire a personality and reputation as a church of consistency in theology but change in Godly methodology.

You can download the article here >> WHITESEL ARTICLE 8 Steps to Changing a Church or read it online in Church Revitalizer Magazine here.

ENDNOTES:

1 John Kotter, Leading Change, (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1996), John Kotter, “Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail,” Harvard Business Review (Boston, Harvard Business Publishing, 2007), retrieved from https://hbr.org/2007/01/leading-change-why-transformation-efforts-fail/ar/1

2  Editor’s note to John Kotter, ibid. Harvard Business Review.

3  John Kotter, “Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail,” Harvard Business Review (Boston, Harvard Business Publishing, 2007), retrieved from https://hbr.org/2007/01/leading-change-why-transformation-efforts-fail/ar/1

4 James Strong The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Carol Stream, IL: Thomas Nelson, 1990), 1515.

5 Bob Whitesel, Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change and What You Can Do About It (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002) and Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2008).

6  Scott Wilcher, MetaSpeak: Secrets of Regenerative Leadership to Transform your Workplace, Ph.D. dissertation (Nashville: Turnaround 2020 Conference, 2013).

Speaking hashtags: #BreakForth16 #Renovate15 #ChurchRevitalization #TheologicalReflection