THEOLOGY & A Biblical Theology of Change & Changing by Bob Whitesel PhD, excerpted from the book, “Preparing for Change Reaction.”

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

Below are links to what I believe is a holistic and biblically faithful theology of change. These theological suppositions emerged from my Ph.D. work at Fuller Theological Seminary, 2005-2007.


God is Unchanging In Four Areas

Change Reaction 4: If God doesn’t change, why should we?” Congregations are leery of church change … because they know God is unchanging in His character.

Download the chapter here: BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – CHANGE REACTION Chpt. 4 Unchanging

One of the most widely accepted Biblical understandings is that God does not change.  There are many passages that attest to this (some are listed in the Questions for Group Study at the end of this chapter).  But, let us focus on the three most popular.  However, first we must tackle an unusual, yet increasingly important word: immutable.

Immutable – What Does It Mean?

There is an curious, yet common word that describes God’s unchangeable character: immutable.  The term, widely used in theological circles, comes from combining two ancient words.  The Latin word, mutabilis carries the meaning of “changeable.”  When the Latin prefix im- is added, it negates the word that follows and elicits the meaning “not-changeable” or immutable.  Millard Erickson offers a concise definition.

“Divine immutability … by this is meant that although everything else in the universe appears to undergo change, God does not.  He is the unchanging eternal one.”

We shall see shortly that this definition may be lacking in precision.  However, it is interesting to note that computer programmers use the terms mutable and immutable as well.  In computer programming an immutable object is an object that cannot be modified once it is created.  And, a mutable object is one that can be modified once it is fashioned.  

Subsequently, because of an increasing use by software programmers and a continued use in theological circles, immutable is an increasingly helpful term for describing things that do not change.

3 Biblical Passages Stating That God Does Not Change… 

Read more by downloading the chapter here: BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – CHANGE REACTION Chpt. 4 Unchanging


When God Changes

Change Reaction 5: “What does the Bible says about change?”

Download the chapter here: BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – CHANGE REACTION Chpt. 5 When God Changes

8-Types of Biblical Change

Theologians have pointed out that there are several types of change in the Bible.  I have codified them into a list of eight.  Let us describe each, and add a brief commentary.

  1. Change due to decline or deterioration.  This is the change we referred to in Chapter 3 as change in permanence or life.  In the previous chapter we saw that God does not change in His duration or eternalness.  However, humans do undergo this type of change, for as the writer of Psalm 102:3 says, his “days vanish like smoke.”
  2. Change in location, i.e. the movement from one place to another.  Millard Erickson comments, “Since God presumably is not … spatially located, the sense of change as movement from one place to another does not apply.”
  3. Changes in quality.  When the Old Testament Temple replaced the make-shift Tabernacle for Jewish worship, Exodus 25, 36 and 2 Chronicles 3 and 4 describe an enhancement in quality.  In a similar manner quality can lessen, for example when the Temple was rebuilt after its destruction by the Babylonians (see Haggai).  But, changes in quality do not apply to God, for the Scriptures depict God as being all-powerful (Genesis 18:14, Job 42:2, Matthew 19:26) and thus having more power would be impossible.
  4. Change due to growth or improvement.  The Bible states that God is all good (Exodus 34:6, 1 Chronicles 16:34) and thus improvement would be impossible.
  5. Change of knowledge means gaining knowledge that one that did possess before.  Again, because God is all knowing (1 Samuel 2:3, 1 Chronicles 28:9, John 16:30) additional or better knowledge is impossible.
  6. Change in beliefs “involves coming to hold different beliefs of attitudes.”  We saw in Chapter 3 that God is unchangeable in the essential nature of whom He is (Psalm 102:27, Malachi 3:6, James 1:17) and that God’s will is unchangeable (James 1:18).  Thus God does not come to hold different beliefs nor attitudes.
  7. Relational change “involves not change in the thing itself, but in the relationship to another object or person.”  This is an interesting thought.  As we shall see shortly, the Biblical record tells us God does relate to us in different ways, depending upon our reactions to Him.  Note, God is not changing, but the relationship between Him and us does change.  Thus, this type of change is found in the Bible.
  8. Change by taking different action than previously.  We see many times in the Bible where God takes a different action than He did previously.  For example, when humans ask forgiveness, turn from their sins and accept Jesus as their Savior, God takes different action (salvation, John 6:23, 10:9) than He had previously warned (damnation, Romans 3:10, 23; 6:23; Revelation 21:8).

Looking at the varying types of change found in the Bible, it becomes clear that in most of these areas God does not change.  Now, let’s look at each of these 8-types of change and see how they relate to God’s unchangeableness in permanence, nature, will and character. 

God and the 8-Types of Biblical Change

Because God is unchangeable in His permanence and lifeGod Does Not Experience Type-1 Change: Change Due to Deterioration,

God is unchangeable in His permanence and life, was a conclusion we discovered in our previous chapter.  We noted that this indicates that God does not change in His or eternalness.  He does not “wear out like a garment” (Psalm 102:26), and though our “days vanish like smoke … your (God’s) years will never end” (Psalm 102:3, 27). 

Therefore, Type-1 Change does not apply to God, for He does not decline nor deteriorate. 

Congregations know that some church change has been good…especially when it increases a church’s effectiveness at sharing the Good News.

Read more by downloading the chapter here: BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – CHANGE REACTION Chpt. 5 When God Changes


Unchanging Character … Changing Methods: The Pattern of Parenting

Change Reaction 6: Let’s not talk about change, I need a break.” Leaders are tired of administrative unproductiveness and disorder … and want a break from volunteering.  After all, isn’t church more than administration?

Read more by downloading the chapter here: BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – CHANGE REACTION Chpt. 6 Unchanging Character Changing Methods.

God’s Pattern of Parenting

The bible is rife with the pattern of parenting as reflected in God’s relationship to His offspring.  Let us look at a few examples of God’s parenting principles and see what lessons they can engender for church leaders who are tackling church change.

God as Mother?

Though often overlooked, at times the Scriptures describe God as having the best attributes of both father and mother.  And since the attributes of a mother are often the most overlooked, let’s begin our inquiry with several motherly attributes of God. 

God has an enduring motherly relationship.  Isaiah 49:15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!”

God comforts, as a mother comforts a child.  Isaiah 66:13 “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.”

God yearns like a woman in childbirth, God yearns for the growth and maturity of His people.  Isaiah 42:14-15 says, “For a long time I have kept silent, I have been quiet and held myself back. But now, like a woman in childbirth, I cry out, I gasp and pant. I will lay waste the mountains and hills and dry up all their vegetation; I will turn rivers into islands and dry up the pools.”  Also, James 1:18 “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”

To protect and nurture resistant offspring.  In Matthew 23:37 Jesus uses the imagery of a mother hen and her chicks, avowing, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.”

God as Father

Here Scriptures abound.  The following are just a few examples.  Many more scriptures will be discussed in the following section, “God as Parent.”

God loves us as a father loves his children.  1 John 3:1
 says, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are!”

God is “Abba, Father.”  One of the most remarkable New Testament passages is Romans 8:15:  “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’”  Another is Galatians 4:6 “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father’.”  See also how Jesus uses the expression “abba” when referring to His heavenly in Mark 14:36.  The term abba is a Aramaic expression of endearment and familiarity customarily used by a very young child.  As such, it is usually the first word from a child’s mouth.  While some translate this “daddy,” this may still be too formal.  A better term might be “dada,” an expression connoting dependence, endearment, commencement and closeness.  This intimate, reliant and cherished term gives new insight to how God longs for us to return to Him and recapture that early father-child connection and love.

God must discipline us at times, as a loving father.  Solomon warns in Proverbs 3:11-12: “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.”  Also, Hebrews 12: 9-10 states, “Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!
Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.”

Alister McGrath has said, “to speak of God as father is to say that the role of the father in ancient Israel allows us insights into the nature of God.”  Thus, from the above we can catch a glimpse into God’s loving, preserving, just and devoted nature.

God as Father and Mother

Sometimes God appears in the role of both parents.  For example, in Psalm 27:10 we see, “Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.” 

In Moses’ song of adoration (Deuteronomy 32) he characterizes God’s love toward His children as that of a paternal eagle, hovering over its young and protecting them.  The tasks outlined, hovering over the young, catching them and carrying them describes female eagle attributes, but at times can also describe male eagles.  Thus, both roles can be inferred.  The full passage reads, “In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye.  Like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them on its pinions” Deuteronomy 32:10-11.

And in Deuteronomy 32:18 both maternal and paternal roles of God are described in the same sentence: “You deserted the Rock, who fathered you; you forgot the God who gave you birth.” 

Sallie McFaque gives a helpful summation of God as father and mother stating “God as mother does not mean that God is mother (or father).  We imagine God as both mother and father, but we realize how inadequate these and any other metaphors are to express the creative love of God …. Nevertheless, we speak of this love in language that is familiar and dear to us, the language of mother and fathers who give us life, from whose bodies we come, and upon whose care we depend.”

And thus God’s parental love is so deep, it is almost unfathomable in magnitude, scale and reach.  There is little surprise that both motherhood and fatherhood expressions are needed to describe such love.  Ephesians 3:17-19 puts it this way, “. . . And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

Yet, fatherhood certainly occurs with more frequency in Biblical passages.  This may be due to the patriarchal culture of ancient times.  However, that in such highly patriarchal times the writers of the Scriptures would not flinch at describing God’s motherly attributes, indicates that God has no opposition to using the best attributes of fatherhood … and motherhood to describe His character.

And, fatherhood and motherhood can be defined in various ways depending upon the relationship.  For example, fatherhood can describe the establishing a household, the headship of that household, and of the provision, care and feeding of that household.  As we saw above, motherhood can describe birthing, nurturing, cherishing, etc.

However, to keep this present study from becoming too lengthy, let us look at how the fatherhood and motherhood of God relates to parenting.  And, in the process let us see if this doesn’t offer some strategic guidelines for dealing with change in churches.

God as Parent …

Read more by downloading the chapter here: BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – CHANGE REACTION Chpt. 6 Unchanging Character Changing Methods.

#OD723

GROUP EXIT & My video intro re. how to change a church w/o losing members

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 11/26/17.

This is another video introduction I’ve recorded for my colleagues, students and clients regarding how to prevent group exit. Students may find this video helpful in understanding their homework on the topic.

More notes that can help the learner watching this presentation are available at the link below:

https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2014/03/21/change-preventing-group-exit-2/

And, see this link for more material on group exit and how to prevent it:

https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/?s=staying+power

keywords: LEAD 600 545 Staying Power group exit Dyke and Starke Go Slow, build consensus and succeed Preparing for Change Reaction

3-STRand LEADERSHIP & A video introduction & tools to discover your mix of 3 leadership traits.

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 9/25/17.

3-STRand Leadership (Strategic-Tactical-Relational traits) is a meta-model of leadership I have adapted/applied to ministry leadership. Formerly I labeled this STO Leadership for strategic-tactical-operational, the terms used by military leaders. Most leadership colleagues/students find the concept of 3-STRand Leadership (Strategic-Tactical-Relational) very helpful.  For a brief introduction …

A) Take at these introductory videos:

https://www.biblicalleadership.com/videos/are-you-a-general-or-a-colonel/

https://www.biblicalleadership.com/videos/do-you-have-a-no-man-on-your-team/

B) Read this short explanation of the three traits of leaders: Strategic-Tactical-Relational here: https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2015/09/29/sto-leadership-an-overview-are-you-a-shepherd-or-a-visionary-or-a-little-of-both/

C) Read about the different names authors have used interchangeably with Strategic-Tactical-Relational here: https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2017/03/02/sto-leadership-alternative-names-for-strategic-tactical-operational-leadership-styles/

D) Then read the “Questions and Answers at 3-STRand Leadership” at this link: https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2015/09/25/teamwork-my-answers-to-questions-about-sto-leaders-strategic-tactical-operational/

E) Finally, take the questionnaire yourself to find which is your dominant and sub-dominant leadership traits. The questionnaire is available FREE here: https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2015/09/29/sto-leadership-a-questionnaire-to-discover-your-leadership-mix/

LEAD 600 LEAD600 STO GCRN #Kingswood2018 3-STRand STRand #ThinkTankOH #TTIN #ThinkTankIN #STRand #3-STRand STR STRand 3-STRand

3-STRand Leadership & Alternative Names for Strategic, Tactical & Relational Leadership Styles

Excerpted from Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church by Bob Whitesel (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2007). The designation operational has been updated to relational for clarity.

Strategic Leadership Characteristics:

Strategic leadership is “future directed,”[i]” strategic leaders often want people to move forward, and thus they are the first to start moving in new directions. Historian Martin Marty said they “are extremely sensitive to where people are, but are not content to leave them there.”[ii]

Other names for strategic leaders are:

  1. Visionaries (George Barna,[iii] Leith Anderson[iv] and Phil Miglioratti[v]).
  2. Role 1 Leaders (Phil Miglioratti[vi]).
  3. “Top management” (John Wimber, Eddie Gibbs[vii]).
  4. “Strong, authoritative, directive pastoral leadership” (Wagner[viii]).
  5. Upper-level Management (John Kotter[ix]).
  6. Sodality leadership, which is described as “vision setter, goal setter, strong leader, visionary, upper management” (Ralph Winter[x]).

Tactical Leadership Characteristics:

Tactical leadership is an integrated skill. The tactical leader weds the past, the present and the future to move the church ahead. The tactical leader grasps the strategic leader’s vision of the future, but the tactical leader enjoys integrating these future plans into the ongoing and present life of the church. Tactical leaders also relish the planning process. They set timelines and allocate duties. They are delgators in the truest sense of the word. They should not be confused with relational leaders who do the work themselves. The tactical leader delegates fully, but then carefully evaluates the results.

And thus, tactical leaders are often pen and pencil (or stylus and PDA) people, who make copious notes as strategic leader expounds upon the future. Tactical leaders create spreadsheets, flowcharts, diagrams and designate work teams. Tactical leaders know who to bring big long-term projects down into easy, doable steps.

Thus, tactical leaders are the needed go-between to connect strategic leaders who grasp the big-picture, and relational leaders who get things done. Everyone appreciates tactical leaders, but regrettably they are usually outnumbered in our churches by strategic leaders and relational leaders. Thus, the organization suffers.

Other names for tactical leaders are:

  1. Administrators (Phil Miglioratti[i]).
  2. Role Two Leaders (Phil Miglioratti [ii]).
  3. Middle-level management (Martin Butler and Robert Herman[iii]).
  4. “Middle management” (John Wimber/Eddie Gibbs[iv] and John Kotter[v]).
  5. “Enables others to achieve goals” (Richard Hutcheson[vi]).
  6. Problem solvers (Gary Yukl[vii]).
  7. Modality leadership, which is described as “enabler, team builder, ally, implementer” (Ralph Winter).[viii]

Relational (sometimes called Operational) Leadership Characteristics:

Relational leaders have the knowledge, skill, relational abilities and dedication to get a job done. Once the parameters are defined and they see how their task fits into the bigger-picture (they are helped in this by the tactical leader), the relational leader can accomplish almost anything. Anthropologist Margaret Mead observed, “Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” [i] And, thus the contribution of the relational leader is critical to the change process.

Relational leaders often love their job so much, that they do not see themselves “moving out” of this role in the foreseeable future.[ii]

But, if the relational leader does not have the go-between of a tactical leader, the strategic leader’s vision may be too imprecise to motivate the relational leader. Thus, we see once again while all three types of leadership are needed, but it is the glue that the go-between tactical leader provides that helps the relational leader move the strategic leader’s vision forward.

Other names for relational leaders are:

  1. Workers (Phil Miglioratti[iii]).
  2. Role Three Leaders (Phil Miglioratti[iv]).
  3. Foremen (John Wimber, Eddie Gibbs[v]).

Download the chapter here: book-bw-excerpt-cr-change-reaction-chpt-2-sto-leaders-dr-whitesel

Strategic Leadership Footnotes

[i] Popular attestation, http://www.quoteworld.org/quotes/8891

[ii] Phil Miglioratti, “Putting Your Laymen When They Will Do the Most Good,” op. cit., p. 146

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] ibid.

[v] Eddie Gibbs, I Believe in Church Growth, op. cit., pp. 380, 381.

Tactical Leadership Footnotes

[i] Phil Miglioratti, “Putting Your Laymen When They Will Do the Most Good,” op. cit., p. 146

[ii] ibid.

[iii] D. Martin Butler and Robert D. Herman, “Effective Ministerial Leadership,” Nonprofit Management and Leadership (1999), 9:229-239.

[iv] Eddie Gibbs, I Believe in Church Growth, op. cit., pp. 380, 382-383.

[v] John Kotter, A Force for Change: How Leadership Differs from Management, op. cit.. Kotter muddies the water a bit, by making a imprecise distinction between leadership and management. Kotter would agree with this author, that there are strategic leaders and tactical leaders. However, Kotter calls what strategic leaders do: “leadership.” And he labels what tactical leaders do as: “management.” While it is laudable that Kotter is trying to help distinguish between strategic and tactical leadership, the widespread use of the terms “leadership” and “management” probably mean they are too popular to now be more narrowly defined. Thus, Kotter’s goal is good, to distinguish between strategic and tactical leaders, but his terminology is probably too imprecise.

[vi] Richard Hutcheson, J., The Wheel Within the Wheel: Confronting the Management Crisis of the Pluralistic Church (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1979), p. 54.

[vii] Gary Yukl, Managerial Practices Survey (Albany, New York: Gary Yukl and Man Associates, 1990).

[viii] C. Peter Wagner, Leading Your Church to Growth, op. cit., pp. 141-165.

Relational Leadership Footnotes

[i] H. Ozbekhan, “Toward a General Theory of Planning,” in E. Jantsch, ed., Perspective in Planning (Paris, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 1969), p. 151.

[ii] Martin Marty, “Lutheran Scholar ‘Sprinkles Methodist Advice,” in The United Methodist Reporter (Dallas, Texas: 1986), March 28.

[iii] Christian pollster George Barna correctly emphasizes that for a strategic leader, a clear vision of the future is important. And, Barna in his popular book, The Power of Vision (Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books, 1992, p. 28, 38-39) describes a vision as “ a clear mental image of a preferable future imparted by God, and based on an accurate understanding of God, self and circumstances.” Yet, the popularity of Barna’s definition may have clouded the picture, as strategically-orientated pastors latched on to this definition, which lacks the complimentary emphasis that it is tactical leadership that will get you there.

[iv] Leith Anderson, Dying for Change (Minneapolis, Minn.: Bethany Publishing House, 1990), pp. 177-178.

[v] Phil Miglioratti, “Putting Your Laymen When They Will Do the Most Good,” The Pastor’s Church Growth Handbook (Pasadena, Calif.: Church Growth Press, 1979), p. 146.

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] Eddie Gibbs, I Believe in Church Growth (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans Publishing House, 1981), pp. 380, 383-385.

[viii] C. Peter Wagner, Leading Your Church to Growth (Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books, 1984), p. 73-74.

[ix] John Kotter, A Force for Change: How Leadership Differs from Management (Boston: Harvard University Press, 1990).

[x] C. Peter Wagner, Leading Your Church to Growth, op. cit., pp. 141-165.

Speaking hashtags: #STO.  3-STRand   STRand   #ThinkTankOH  #TTOH   #3-STR #3-STRand. #TTIN

CHANGE BOUNDARIES & To Create Change That Unifies, You Need a Statement of Boundaries

Excerpted from ©Bob Whitesel, Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church, Wesleyan Publishing House, 2007, pp. 133-149.

A Statement of Change Boundaries (SCB) is a description of the boundaries across which change in a local church will not go beyond. The SCB depicts the limits, borders and boundaries of principles and actions across which congregants mutually agree that change should not cross. This exercise is critical for allying fears of reticent congregants, as well as ensuring that change does not fundamentally alter a church’s nature, will or character.

Not only principles are listed, but also examples of actions which cross congregational boundaries. Thus, an SCB has the following characteristics.

  1. Some parts of the statement are evolving and some are not.
  • Not changing: Principles of the church (i.e. nature, will and character) and theology should not change.
  • Changing: Actions will change due to changes in relationships (Type-7 change) or because different action is warranted (Type-8 change).
  1. The SCB is regularly reviewed before any major change is implemented to ensure that changes do not cross predefined boundaries.
  2. The SCB is published regularity to help define the character, personality and direction of the congregation.
  3. The SCB is less than one page, single-spaced (approximately 350 words per page), with one additional page (again 350 words) of examples.
  4. The SCB is consulted whenever a potentially divisive change is considered. In such circumstances, the following action is taken:
  • The change is seen to be consistent with the SCB.
  • Or if the change crosses a boundary of the SCB the following is undertaken.
  1. Discussion is opened to consider changes in the SCB. (This would follow the format outlined later in this chapter under STEP 6.)
  2. If the change is deemed to be beyond the boundaries the congregation has currently adopted, then the change is not implemented.

8-Steps To Creating a Statement of Change Boundaries

STEP 1: Do Your Homework

Denominational Theology and Traditions

Churches have personalities and theologies based upon denominational and local histories, perspectives and convictions. To craft a Statement of Change Boundaries first requires a consultation of the denominational statement of faith. These are the basic values that undergird the network of churches to which a congregation may belong.[i] Reading and understanding each of the points in a statement of faith is a critical beginning place for understanding boundaries.

For example, a non-instrumental Church of Christ may want to ensure that musical boundaries include the denominational preference for non-instrumental worship. In these congregations, worship is conduced by voices only without musical accompaniment. This is an important distinctive for churches of this denomination, and they may wish to include a statement in their SBC that changes in worship will not cross the non-instrumental boundary into instrumental forms.

In addition, there is little that could prevent a non-instrumental congregation from having Modern Worship or even Postmodern Worship with voice accompaniment only. I have witnessed in many youthful Organic Congregations engaging and compelling worship services where instruments were eschewed in lieu of a cappella praise.

Unique Characteristics of Your Congregation

Each congregation has unique giftings[ii] that should be reflected in its Statement of Change Boundaries.[iii] Here are some examples of unique characteristics that can be found in individual congregations:

  • Some churches are uniquely gifted in music.
  • Other congregations are noted for the oratory of their speakers and teachers.
  • Churches may have unique giftings such as an emphasis upon supporting missionaries and mission programs.
  • Other congregations may have a multigenerational, multiracial, and/or multiethnic composition.
  • Often churches are known for the ministries they provide for the community, such as one or more of the following:
    • A thrift shop,
    • A food pantry,
    • A 12-step program,
    • Support for a specific community program, such as Habitat for Humanity, United Way, special educational programs, etc.,
    • A teen ministry,
    • A daycare program,
    • A preschool,
  • And churches are known for the ministries they provide for the community and congregation, such as:
    • Ministry to youth,
    • A choir,
    • A women’s ministry,
    • A men’s ministry,
    • Young Adult ministry,
    • Small groups,
    • Sunday School classes,
    • A primary and/or secondary school,

For example, a church that has a highly active Stephen Ministry program will want to ensure that this is reflected in their change boundaries. Stephen Ministry[iv] is a training program that empowers and trains volunteers within the congregation to “provide one-to-one Christian care to hurting people in and around your congregation.”[v] This program, which is highly valued and effective should be reflected in the Statement of Change Boundaries.

If a program like Stephen Ministries was not reflected in the SBC, conflict and clashes could erupt over new ideas. For example, in a church with a vibrant Stephen Ministry, a change in the church’s charter to require that all hospital visitation be conducted by ordained clergy might cross a boundary stating “we will no nothing that undermines, weakens or destabilizes our church’s Stephen Ministry.” Stephen Ministries are often highly involved in hospital visitation, and taking away this duty would severely undercut the program in many churches. When support of the Stephen Ministry is reflected in a Statement of Change Boundaries, conflicting ideas become less divisive, for those pushing for change can readily see that it goes against one of the unique characteristics of this congregation. And, this story actually happened (but unfortunately a SCB was not in place, and conflict ensured). It has been my experience that SCBs help communicate throughout a congregation those things that the church feels are important. And, as a result changes that undermine a unique congregational focus are usually not pursued.

A final example might help. A client church felt deeply that its choir, though now somewhat decimated by old age, was still a viable strength of the congregation. In fact, the community knew of this church primarily because of its gifted choir, even though they were waning in numbers. And thus, the choir leader, whose first name was Varner, was an icon in the area. Varner had led choir camps for many years at a nearby religious retreat center, and he had personally led dozens of adult choir tours to Europe. To the community and to this church, the choir director and the choir were a core competency.

A new pastor was assigned to this congregation, and he set out to attract the many Baby Boomers who lived in this area. Since there was only one Sunday worship service, and the choir took up a good portion of that service, the pastor decided that the choir should be replaced by a modern worship team. “They (the choir) only number 18 people,” the pastor recalled. “And, people have been asking for contemporary music for years.” As a result, and against this consultant’s advice, the pastor ended the choir program and replaced it with a worship team. The choir leader took me aside at my next visit and complained about the introduction of what he called “radio music.” Akin to music he heard (only in fleeting moments) on the radio, Varner was aghast that the pastor would end such an important program. Also aghast were the choir, the community and many congregants who enjoyed the choir-emphasis at the one service. As a result, many of the status quo discontinued their attendance and their support. But they did not leave the church, but rather waited in the background until either the pastor might be gone or he had made a misstep.

Several months, two pastoral missteps and much tension later, the choir was reconstituted. This time, more participants swelled its ranks, almost in protest of the pastor’s erstwhile decision. “It would have been easier if I had some indication of how much the spirit of that choir was still alive in this church,” the pastor confided. He had in the inaugural enthusiasm of his tenure overlooked the choir ministry as a unique gift of this church. He would never do so again. And thus, in this scenario a SCB could have been helpful. The SCB could have alerted a new pastor to a historical and anointed musical ministry that distinguished this church, and as such the pastor could have observed a boundary that he dared not naively cross.

STEP 2: Create An Example

Congregants often need an example of a SCB to unleash their creative juices. Examples provide a structure, a configuration and a demarcation of what you are proposing. However, this example should be just that … a model or pattern, but not a final SCB.


Download the rest of the instructions for creating Change Boundaries here: book-whitesel-excerpt-change-reaction-chpt-7-change-boundaries


Footnotes:

[i] If a church does not belong to a denomination, then it is usually helpful to consult the statement of faith of a comparable church and/or its denomination. The purpose of this exercise is to ensure in even new and/or non-affiliated churches, that there is an awareness of historical creeds and vital elements of orthodoxy.

[ii] Saying that a local congregation has unique giftings does not indicate that these giftings are limited to only one congregation. By unique giftings I mean those congregational strengths that the Holy Spirit has empowered the congregation to contribute to the local ministry matrix. As such, these giftings will be noticed by people outside of the congregation as well as within the congregation as unique gifts of this congregation to the Lord and to the community.

[iii] Unique giftings that churches may possess are sometimes called core competencies. Core competencies are skills and attributes in which a church is uniquely gifted and which are recognized as such by the church and the community. Thus, core competencies are those things an organization does well and possess four traits: they are valuable, rare, costly to imitate, and non-substitutable. Another way to say this is that “core competencies distinguish a company competitively and reflect its personality” (Michael A. Hitt, R. Duane Ireland, and Robert E. Hoskisson, Strategic Management: Competitiveness and Globalization, 4th ed., Cincinnati, Ohio: South-Western College Publishing, 2001, p. 113). For more information about core competencies, see Hitt, et. al..

[iv] For information about Stephen Ministries, visit their website: http://www.stephenministries.org

[v] http://www.stephenministries.org/stephenministry, 2007. A fuller definition is, “in Stephen Ministry congregations, lay caregivers (called Stephen Ministers) provide one-to-one Christian care to the bereaved, hospitalized, terminally ill, separated, divorced, unemployed, relocated, and others facing a crisis or life challenge. Stephen Ministry helps pastors and congregations provide quality caring ministry for as long as people need it” (Introduction to Stephen Ministry, http://www.stephenministries.org/stephenministry, 2007).

Speaking hashtags: #NewDirectionChurch

WORSHIP & Reasons Why Blending Worship May Not Be An Effective Evangelistic Strategy

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 10/24/15.

A student once tendered the following query.

“You really believe that three services are necessary to reach the three different generations? I understand a little difference in order to reach a different group, but three seems a little over the top…. Our church currently has two services. One is praise and worship, and one is Traditional. These two services have come with pros and cons at our church. It has expanded the ministry and allowed us to reach some new people. It also has created some division among some who don’t like the other service or feel the two services are actually driving the two groups further apart instead of together.  Personally, I am a proponent of a well blended service. Ideally this brings generations together in the same service and teaches them both about compromise when it comes to music styles. I will say for this to work the musicians and music leaders must be good and do a good job of blending the music. Music hopefully is a tool to lead us to worship, that is why I don’t get hung up on styles. I have a problem with those that think only one style is the correct way to worship.”

These are good, and common questions.  And, here are my answers.

Hello ___student_name___;

You queried, “You really believe that three services are necessary to reach the three different generations?”  Yes, I do.  However, variations of this exist so let me give you some general parameters.

Some churches will have a traditional (reaching older adults who want stability in their increasingly unstable lives), blended (really a Christian variation that can seem culturally confusing to unchurched people), contemporary (upbeat with a backbeat) and modern (more engagement and improvisation, see my case-study book: Inside the Organic Church, 2006).

You noted that this has “allowed us to reach some new people.”  That is good news!  And, wait until you read Chip Arn’s book, How to Start New Service (a textbook for this course) and you will see that his research supports your conclusion: more variation in service styles has been proven numerically to reach more people for Christ!

But, I also think you can see that each of these worship expressions are stylistically different enough to require separate venues, or a sizable segment will not relate and not worship.  While your desire to mature people by “teaching them to compromise” is a laudable goal (and one with which I wholehearted agree), the worship service man not be the best venue for this.  You see, if you have only a blended service you will lose some of the babes-in-Christ because they may not be ready for adult food.   Romans 15:1ff is as good summation of the writer’s argument that for salvation sake, we must try not to put roadblocks (if they are culturally inspired and morally neutral) in the path of young believers.

Thus, if your goal is to reach the unchurched and introduce them to Christ, you will need to get them into an environment where they are not uncomfortable or perplexed by the culturally-derived aesthetics.  You won’t want to leave them there. But, you will want them to be able to start there, in a place where they are more culturally comfortable.  This is what a missionary does, they take the Good News and put it cultural aesthetics (and worship styles) of a society.

Since my purpose is to introduce them into an encounter with God, it makes sense to present the encounter in the most relevant (to them) way possible.

Many people note that this creates division.  And, it does.  But I am not sure that worship is the best venue for unity.  One young man I asked about this responded to me “you can’t create unity in worship, the seats face the wrong way.”

That is why I agree with you that we need to foster compromise.  I wrote two books about this: Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change to Your Church (Abingdon Press, 2010) and Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change What You Can Do About It (Abingdon Press, 2003).

But, to create this unity I am not sure worship is the best venue, for it is a place of spiritual encounter.  Thus, you will notice in my books that I strongly emphasize that we supplement varied worship venues with new community spaces where people can gather after church and talk about the same message they heard in the different culturally stylistic venues.  Therefore unity experiences and venues, where people can fellowship and get to know each other, must be created.  It means not trying to create this in worship, for there it can rob us of our heavenward focus.  But rather it means creating unity experiences and opportunities; and offer as many each week as we offer worship experiences.

EVALUATION & Websites for Tracking Ministry Objectives

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 12/2/15.

I’ve asked my students to help me create a list of helpful websites or software programs that can help track the numbers in a church or ministry.  Such tools can be especially helpful if they let you track participation in small groups as a percentage of overall attendance (this would allow you to track “maturation growth” or what is also called “growth in maturity” Acts 2:42)

Below are a few sites that can help with data gathering. They will probably invigorate tactical leaders (those who lead by numerical analysis) and will make life easier for strategic leaders (those who lead by vision) and operational leaders (those who lead by relationships).(1)

Automated Church Systems:  http://www.acstechnologies.com

Life Church in Edmond, OK http://www.churchmetrics.com (This church you may remember was an example of a church with healthy growth which I profiled in Growth by Accident, Death by Planning: How NOT To Kill a Growing Congregation (2004).

More to come …

Footnotes:
(1) If you can’t remember the distinctions between Strategic-Tactical-Operational leadership see Preparing for Change Reaction: How To Introduce Change in Your Church (The Wesleyan Publishing House, 2007, pp. 31-46).  You can also take a test to discover your leadership traits on pp. 46-47 of the book or click here: https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/leadership-3-types-strategic-tactical-operational-freedownload-changereactionbook/

GROUP EXIT & Examples with Prescriptions That Prevent Groups Leaving During Change

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min, Ph.D., 10/28/15.

I have explained the 6-stages & 5-triggers that lead to groups exiting a church in two books and at these links: GROUP EXIT & Preventing Group Exit During Change and Group Exit Articles. To visualize the critical misstep to which leaders fall prey when they create a “negative legitimizing event,” I have posted below several case-study examples.

These are real stories that demonstrate real situations where the pastor made a misstep and created a “negative legitimizing event.”  Though the names are changed, it was because of the conflict that ensued that these churches wound up hiring me to consult for them.  They are among many others who have said they were helped immeasurably by seeing the stages and triggers that lead people to exit their churches in groups.

A simple event sequence toward group exit:

  • First Church has many Sunday Schools, but nothing for congregants like Brad who work Sunday mornings (Stage 1: Relative Harmony).
  • Brad goes to a seminar at another church that explains an exciting new small group program that meets on Sunday evening (Trigger 1: Conflicting Ideas Event).
  • Brad goes to Pastor Jerry and explains this new program, and tells how he has recruited his friends and that they will help run it.  The pastor sees that this could help the church and responds, “this sounds like exactly what we need.” (Trigger 2: Negative Legitimizing Event, because the pastor has inadvertently given Brad and his team carte blanche and they will move too fast, alarming the status quo.)
  • Brad and his friends begin to organize and publicize how they will start this small group program at their church (Stage 3: Change).
  • Brad gets the pastor to throw his support behind the program, and the pastor pleads with the congregation from the pulpit to attend this program, saying “even if you have a Sunday School you go to, you need this group too!” (Trigger 3: Alarm Event, because most people already have a Sunday School, which is their small group, and now they are being urged to attend yet another small group.)

Here is how Pastor Jerry could have handled this differently, and create a “Positive Legitimizing Event:”

  • Trigger 2 on Route B – Group Retention: Pastor Jerry says, “Brad, this is very interesting.  I want you and I to talk to some of the opinion makers in our church about this.”  When they do, Pastor Jerry and Brad learn that some people are leery of this program, for they feel Brad and Pastor Jerry in their enthusiasm will make them attend Sunday evening small groups in addition to their Sunday School classes.  Pastor Jerry and Brad realize that Sunday Schools are a type of small group, and so they approach the Sunday School attendees by saying: “We want to start a new type of small group on Sunday evening, for people like Brad that can’t make a smaller intimate group like Sunday School in the morning.  In fact, we’re going to call them ‘Sunday Evening Sunday Schools.’  Would you help us get the word out and to pray for this?”
  • Group Retention:  This actually happened to a client church, and now the church has many “Sunday Evening Sunday Schools” and even a growing ministry they call “Wednesday Evening Sunday Schools.”

A more complex event sequence toward group exit:

  • Vintage Church has a Sunday morning church service that runs about 40 in attendance, and 15 in a choir.  It is a traditional service, with favorite hymns and a standard liturgical structure (Stage 1: Relative Harmony).
  • Pastor Mary’s job is to reach out to people under 35.  She attends a seminar on Ancient-Future Worship, where ancient elements like liturgy are added to modern elements such as rock music, to create a vintage, yet modern feel (Trigger 1: Conflicting Ideas Event).
  • Mary shares her excitement over such a program with the lead pastor, saying “young people like ancient elements wed with modern music.  If we can just get the older people at the first service to modify their service some, we can transition their traditional service into something that will attract more people.”  Pastor Mike responds, “sounds interesting.  Why don’t you go to them and work with them on implementing this idea?”  Now, on the surface this seems like a “Positive Legitimizing Event” because Pastor Mike is telling Mary to go to the status quo people and work with them.  But, the status quo are loyal to Pastor Mike, and Pastor Mary has never been their shepherd.  Thus, when Pastor Mike sent Mary to the status quo instead of himself, he didn’t create the broad support that is needed for a new idea to succeed.  (Thus, this was a Trigger 2: A Negative Legitimizing Event).
  • Mary tried to make some changes in the traditional service (Stage 3; Change),
  • But because Mary didn’t know the older people, she stepped on some toes (Trigger 3: Alarm Event)
  • The traditional service attendees began to slow down and even stop Mary’s changes (Stage 4: Resistance).
  • Mary got frustrated and shared her frustrations with Pastor Mike, who went to the older service and criticized them for making Mary feel bad.  The status quo tried working behind the scenes to get Mary moved back to overseeing just younger people.  But, Mary was so hurt in her failure that she resigned (Trigger 4: Polarization Event).
  • Both sides blamed the other for Mary’s departure (Stage 5: Intense Conflict).
  • Who is at fault?  The real person at fault was Pastor Mike, because he didn’t know about the key Trigger 2: the Legitimizing Event, and how to make it a positive event, rather than a negative event.

Here is what Pastor Mike might have said at Trigger 2: Legitimizing Event, to make it a “positive” and not a “negative” event:  

  • Trigger 2 on Route B – Group Retention: “Mary, I can tell you are excited about this idea.  And, I want to ensure it succeeds. Thus, we are going to need to take some time to help the traditional service attendees decide if this is for them.  And, even if they decide they want to go this route, there are some power-brokers that we will need to go to and listen to about their concerns.  In fact, I will need to go with you, not because I don’t trust you, but because I have been the pastor to these older members.  They will be more open to sharing their deepest concerns and opinions with me because of that history.”
  • Group Retention: The traditional service attendees decided they did not want to change, but they agreed to pray for and help the church launch a successful new service called: Vintage Faith.

GROUP EXIT & How a Negative Legitimizing Event Can Push People Out of Your Church … (and How a Negative Decision is Different)

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 10/24/15.

I’ve written about how research reveals you can prevent group exits in churches by altering two “triggers” during the process of introducing a new idea.  The first trigger you must alter is called a “negative Legitimizing event.”  Here a person in leadership (usually a pastor) legitimizes a new idea and the “change proponents” begin to run too fast with their new idea. This headlong speed will eventually lead to “status quo congregants” feeling left behind and polarized.  The result is polarization in the church between the change proponents (who you need for cultivating new ideas) and the status quo (who you need because they control the finances and have experience).

I have written a book describing this (Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change What You Can Do About It, Abingdon Press) as well as created a short introduction in my “Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church (Wesleyan Publishing House) at this link.

But, a negative legitimizing event is very different from a “negative decision.”  And, often my students confuse the two.

So, I thought I’d share a little bit more clarity on what comprises a Negative Legitimizing Event. This is because at first reading, students can miss-identify the “negative legitimizing event” as simply a “negative decision.”  It is really more than that with many of you correctly identifying a “negative legitimizing event.”

But, for further clarity let me explain how I once addressed the difference between a “negative legitimizing event” and a “negative event” with a student.   You see, sometimes students don’t find the “negative legitimizing event,” but instead describe a “negative decision” a leader has undertaken.

Here is an example of what a student once said:

”My Negative Legitimizing Event: The senior pastor at the time felt that the church financially could not sustain a full time assistant pastor. So, in order to pay bills and for the church to be financially stable, the senior pastor and the local board of administration, decided to eliminate the position of the assistant, which was for all purposes, the position of a youth pastor, one specializing in the ministry towards teens from ages 12 to 18.”  This person is a good student, but was thinking I was asking for a “negative event” and thus described a “negative decision event.”

Here is my response:

A “Negative Legitimizing Event” is different.  It is a decision by someone in power (Pastor Jim in the textbook, Whitesel, 2007, p. 158, para. 1) who legitimizes a change, without first building broad support for it.  A “Negative Legitimizing Event” probably happened in this student’s story, but he did not make it clear when and by who.

Thus, if you have questions (or if you are a student, before you post your answer to this week’s questions) reread pp. 157-158 (Whitesel, 2007), plus look at the Questions for Group Study on pp. 157 (especially “Trigger 2”). This should help you identify who/when/where did someone in power legitimize a change without first building broad support. And, thus the leader’s “legitimizing” of a change, would result in a “negative” outcome and lead the church down ROUTE A to group exit.

FIGURE Staying Power Process Model p. 177

For more info see Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change to Your Church, by Bob Whitesel 2010.  The figure is from Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change What You Can Do About It, Abingdon Press, 2003, p. 177).

GROUP EXIT & An Exercise to Help You Notice When People Are Preparing to Leave a Church

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 10/23/15.

Research indicates there are six stages and five triggers that occur before groups exit a church in disgust.  But research also demonstrates that be altering just two triggers, you can prevent group exit.  I have written an entire book on this (Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change What You Can Do About It, Abingdon Press) as well as excerpted a short introduction from on it from my book “Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church (Wesleyan Publishing House) at this link.  If you have not already done so, read the link before undertaking the exercise.

For this leadership exercise, investigate how to correctly spot (and not replicate) “Negative Legitimizing Events.” This exercise is called “Locate the Negative Legitimizing Event.” It is similar to pin the tail on the donkey.

We begin with a scenario with three actors.

1  Read the story and tell us which one created a Negative Legitimizing Event.

2 Then, create your own story.

2.1  Make it about a ministry-related situation and include three characters.

2.2  Then give us three options for the person who committed the management faux paux: i.e. they created a “Negative Legitimizing Event.”

I’ll start.

Pastor H had been a proponent of Sunday evening small groups, and he had spoken on this at many denominational seminars.  Pastor H thinks Sunday evening small groups might work for this new church, and he consults a nearby pastor (Pastor D) who tells Pastor H, “you must be firm with them.  They’ve drove off other pastors and they will if you aren’t forceful with them.”  Pastor H decided that Sunday evening small groups had been successful in his previous church. Thus, he decided to announce to the congregation that everyone should go to Sunday evening small groups, even if they were already involved in committees, Sunday Schools, etc..  He announced this from the pulpit. Pastor J is a retired pastor who attends the church and was sitting in the audience.  Pastor J begins to call others congregants from his Sunday School class to complain.

Here are the options for a “Negative Legitimizing Event”

Option 1:  Pastor H tells the congregation the church is going to implement Sunday evening small groups.
Option 2:  Pastor D tells Pastor H he must be firm and forceful with the congregation.
Option 3:  Pastor J calls other congregants from his Sunday School class to complain.

Now, if you are not a student in one of my courses you can find the answer here.  But, if you are a student, please undertake this exercise before you click the link for the answer.  And, if you got the answer wrong share a bit more in class regarding what you learned.

FIGURE Staying Power Process Model p. 177

For more info see Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change to Your Church, by Bob Whitesel 2010.  The figure is from Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change What You Can Do About It, Abingdon Press, 2003, p. 177).

HIRING FROM WITHIN & My Top 3 Things to Avoid If You Are Hired from Within the Organization

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

A student once shared that he was hired from within the organization to fill the lead pastor role.  I have written (Growth by Accident, Death by Planning: How NOT to Kill a Growing Congregation, pp. 109-120) about why this is often a strategically wise practice.  And, research confirms this.

However, hiring from within also brings caveats.  Following the student’s comments, are my top three things you must avoid.

Joshua D. (a student) wrote, “This article is very encouraging.  I have been at KSM for 15 years as music pastor and Administrator and just found out Monday, as of January 1st I will be taking the Senior Pastor position.  This class could not have come at a better time.  Thank you for investing in us.”

My response about Top Three Things to Avoid:

Congratulations Joshua, I have a couple suggestions I make students:

RULE #1:  Even though you’ve been at the church a while, a “listening tour” is the first thing I would do. Tell the people that though you have been around for a long time, you want to have fresh eyes and fresh ears to hear what they haven’t told you before. This is because in this new position you have a new relationship! So don’t get defensive or answer them yet. Just go to them privately and ask them, “What do I need to hear from you?”

RULE #2:  Secondly tell them you’re going to go slow before you make any changes. Remember going slow and building consensus is the secret to making change happening in a unifying manner (see research and examples in the chapter, “Go Slowly, Build Consensus and Succeed” in Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church, pp. 151-169 which you can download here: BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – CHANGE REACTION Chpt. 8 Go Slow. Also, you will find even more extensive examples in Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change and What You Can Do About ItAbingdon Press.)  Even though you have been at the church for some time, some people may have felt that the previous later wasn’t open to their ideas. And, they will immediately start to politic you. You do not want to be perceived as taking sides. So listen to them and explain to them their ideas must go through proper channels (baords, vetting by people affected, etc.). Get them working with others who they’ve been at odds with in the past to move the idea forward.  Do not becomes the champion of the new idea or you will be perceived as taking sides. Taking sides on methodology (not theology) is one of the most dangerous positions a new pastor can find her or himself in.

RULE #3:  And this brings us to the third point: don’t get in between people with different opinions – but rather get them working together to solve their differences. As you remember in my book Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change and What You Can Do About It(Abingdon Press) that when a new leader comes into a position (even if they been a leader in the church for many years) there will arise a new activity of politicking to get the new leader to support their side. You must remember … don’t get in the middle. Research shows the best thing is to get them working out their differences between each other without you in the middle (again download this chapter for the research footnotes: BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – CHANGE REACTION Chpt. 8 Go Slow.) So don’t, repeat don’t, let them put you in the middle as a go-between between them. Do not be a mediator or negotiator. Force them to meet with one another and to come up between them with a third option. The secret is not for you to be the negotiator, but for them to conduct negotiations face-to-face. That way there is no communication filter or opportunity for them to blame you for miscommunicating their position. So don’t be a go-between – be someone that gets people to talk out their differences with each other (and without you there 🙂  Of course they must still bring it back to you for affirmation. But don’t affirm a compromise, until they work it out themselves.

3-STRand LEADERSHIP & A Questionnaire to Discover Your Leadership Mix

by Bob Whitesel D.Min, Ph.D., 1/4/08. Adapted from Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church by Bob Whitesel (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2007.  Download the entire chapter here >> BOOK BW EXCERPT CR Change Reaction Chpt.2 STO Leaders ©Dr.Whitesel

Typically in our churches we have (three types of leaders):

Strategic Leaders.

They see the need and the future. They have a limited idea of how to get there, but they have been exposed to various models to accomplish change. However, strategic leaders do not typically have the patience to analyze, fine-tune, crunch-the-numbers, tweak, perfect, evaluate and adjust a strategy. Subsequently, strategic leaders often try to just apply (e.g. franchise) a strategy that has worked elsewhere. The strategic leader may purchase step-by-step manuals for relational leaders. And while this is a good starting place, because tactical leaders who can adjust the methodology for the church’s own unique scenario are not involved, the canned strategy is often abandoned with people saying “that doesn’t work here.” Again, the problem is not the strategic leaders or the relational leaders. They are both doing their jobs. The problem is created because an important linking and planning element of leaders is missing: the tactical leaders and their organizational skills.

Tactical Leaders

They then become our crucial … and missing link in effective change. If they are missing, change strategies are not adapted to the local context and the process is unorganized.  They are the key go-betweens among the strategic and relational leaders. Tactical leaders have the requisite skills of analysis, step-by-step planning, numbercrunching, and detail management to bring a change to fruition. This is the contribution of the tactical leaders.

Relational (formerly designated Operational) Leaders

In military jargon these are the “boots on the ground,” meaning the frontline workers who must adjust the tactics they are given. They are relational teams of workers, who derive much of their satisfaction from both their teammates and their visible accomplishments. Relational leaders may also volunteer to be tactical leaders, because relationships are so important to them they do not want to see the strategic leader in a quandary. They may say something like “Pastor, I know you are in a spot here. So I’ll help you out.” If a relational leader says this, interview that person and then if this relational leaders does not have the analytical, diagnostic and methodical skills to create and manage an elaborate plan, graciously decline their offer. To thrust relational leaders into tactical positions will frustrate them, and eventually due to their gracious and relational nature, they will quietly fade away from their failed tactical task.

Change is Difficult Because Tactical Leaders Are Missing

PreparingChange_Reaction_MdWhy then does change so often fail in congregations? It has been my observation that it is because strategic leaders (often pastors) try to orchestrate the tactical process. Often if a strategic leader in the role of a pastor or a department head tries to move the church forward with some change, the congregants will become frustrated because of a lack of precision in the plan. The plan to them will appear too nebulous and imprecise.

At the same time the strategic leader will expect the relationally-orientated leaders to create a plan. And though the relational leaders are the key to the success of the process, their emphasis upon relationships usually trumps their interest in the administrative details, budgeting, volunteer recruitment and evaluation that is required.

The answer is that change needs the critical link between strategic leader and relational leaders: tactical leadership. Therefore, to succeed with change, it is important that at the outset of this book the pastor look around him or her develop those tactical leaders who can map-out the change processes outlined in this book, and who will enjoy doing so.

Questions for Discovering YOUR LEADERSHIP STYLE mix:

1. What kind of tasks do you enjoy?

(Circle only those letters that correspond to tasks you greatly enjoy.)

a.  Dreaming about the future.
b.  Preparing a budget.
c.  Getting to know a person you work with.
d.  Graphing on paper a new plan.
e.  Analyzing what when wrong with a past strategy.
f.   Creating a visual map of the planning process.
g.  Balancing your checkbook.
h.  Sharing about your family history.
i.   Reading books on new ideas.
j.   Attending seminars on creativity.
k.  Tackling a numerical problem.
l.    Reading books on history.
m.  Researching costs associated with a project.
n.   Creating a survey.
o.   Taking a survey.
p.   Leading under 12 people on a project.
q.   Recording the minutes of a meeting.
r.    Loading and adjusting new software on your computer.
s.   Designing ways to better communicate an idea.
t.    Relaxing by sharing with friends about hobbies.
u.   Relaxing by sharing with friends about what when wrong.
v.    Relaxing by dreaming with friends about new ideas.
w.   Working on a hobby with a few closer friends.
x.   You share your personal feelings easily with others.
y.   You share your new ideas easily with others.
z.   You like to get a job done with a minimum of fuss.

TOTAL BELOW:  For each letter you circled, put a check in the corresponding box below.  You may be primarily comfortable with a leader style associated with the box that contains the most checkmarks.

Relational Leaders most likely checked boxes: C, H, P, T, W, X, Z,

Tactical Leaders: B, D, E, F, G, K, M, N, Q, R, S, U

Strategic Leaders: A, I, J, L, O, V, Y

STO Leadership Questionaire TOTAL box copy

 

Adapted from Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church by Bob Whitesel (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2007.  Download the entire chapter here >> BOOK BW EXCERPT CR Change Reaction Chpt.2 STO Leaders ©Dr.Whitesel

Speaking hashtags: #BetterTogether #SalvationCenterTX  #NewDirectionChurch STO STRand 3-STRand #STO  3-STRand   STRand   #ThinkTankOH  #TTOH   #3-STR #3-STRand. #TTIN

STO LEADERSHIP & Are You a Strategic, Tactical or Operational Leader? These Stories Will Help You Find Out.

by Bob Whitesel Ph.D., 7/11/15.

In a previous post (and in my book “Preparing for Change Reaction”) I explained that leaders usually fail because they don’t surround themselves with leaders whose gifts complement theirs.  There are three basic “meta-categories” of leaders: strategic leaders, tactical leaders and operational leaders (see this short 12 minute video for an introduction).  While almost everyone has a mixture, usually one dominants you.  Click here >> BOOK BW EXCERPT CR Change Reaction Chpt.2 STO Leaders ©Dr.Whitesel for a questionnaire (p. 12) to find your mix if you have not already done so.

Then read these stories of the missionaries below. They illustrate that missionaries too have a dominant leadership gift.  Here first is a story from Frances Chan’s book about Rachel.  Read her story and then tell us what kind of leader does she appear to be?

When she was 18 she traveled the world with a wealthy woman, who promised to make her her heiress if she would keep her company where ever she went, but she turned it down. Later she became a bible translator in South Africa, but developed a love of the language of the Waorani Indians in Ecuador.

The Waorani Indians were notorious for spearing to death any outsider who came close, they were not open at all. Rachel’s brother was actually killed by the Indians earlier. But Rachel felt compelled to bring the gospel to them.

Eventually she met a Waorani woman and gained her trust and was able to integrate safely into the tribe. She brought the gospel to the Indians and changed their culture from one of hatred and revenge to that of love and healing.

They trusted her so much they gave her the Waorani name of Nimu which means star.

Eventually she translated the New Testament into their language and  when she died they said of her, “she called us brothers, She told us how to believe. Now she is in heaven…God is building a house for all of us and that is where we will see Nimu again.” (Crazy Love, p. 154-155).

I’ve often noted that missionaries such as Rachel have a type of leadership that we often overlook in North America due to the more exciting leadership types.  So, let me ask a question of my readers.

What kind of leader does Rachel appear to be: strategic, tactical or operational?  I know she has a bit of all three, but what one primarily motivates her and would she do all the time if she could?

Next, here is a story about Dr. Donald McGavran and his early missionary work as a young man just starting out in the missionary vocation.  Read this description by Stephanie Folkringa (Wesley Sem. Student, March 2011), and tell us what kind of leader Donald McGavran appears to be?

PHOTO McGavran Youg & with a pick“When McGavran returned to India for the second time, he served as the executive secretary of mission, where he worked with 80 missions, 5 hospitals, high schools, and primary schools.  McGavran became the superintendent of a leprosy home and hospital.  He became an expert on the Hindi language and translated the Gospel into the Chattisgarhi dialect.”

So, what kind of leader do you think Dr. McGavran was primarily: strategic, tactical or operational?  I know, like Rachael, he was a bit of all three (as are we). But, from this description of this early ministry, what primarily style of leadership did Dr. McGavran appear to enjoy the most: strategic, tactical or operational?

Speaking hashtags: #BetterTogether

CHANGE & First Aid for a Change Gone Bad

by Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D., Church Revitalizer Magazine, (Orlando, FL: Greater Orlando Baptist Assoc.), Jan-Feb. 2015, pp. 48-49, http://issuu.com/renovate-conference/docs/jan-feb-2015-the-church-revitalizer?e=0/12149636

7 Steps To Recovering From a Church Revitalization Misstep

As an active church-revitalization consultant of 20+ years, I knew “church change” was understudied. This drove me to Fuller Seminary to earn my third degree there: a Ph.D. with a focus on church change. A resultant book, Preparing for Change Reaction: How To Introduce Change in Your Church, was awarded co-resource of the year by a national magazine. And, people often come up at conferences and tell me how helpful it is.

But people also come up and say,” What do I do now that I made a bad change?! How do I get out of that?!”

I realized leaders are often too stressed when everything is going wrong to find the answer in the book. So, I decided to set out in this article an overview of the “7 Steps to Recovering from Bad Change.”

Step 1: Take a breath. Once you realize a change is bad, your natural inclination is to rush in and halt the change … or plunge forward more earnestly. Both actions will usually doom the change, because you have “two emerging camps.” One camp we will call the change proponents and the other camp we will call the status quo.

On the one hand, change proponents (people pushing for the change) are excited about the change and stopping it abruptly will alienate them. And on the other hand the status quo (people who want to keep things the way they are) will step up their resistance if they feel you are ham-fistedly moving forward.

But, you may ask, “What’s wrong with alienating the status quo? They aren’t the future. Go ahead, let them leave.” That might be an option if they would actually leave, but research indicates the status quo will likely not leave the church. If change polarizes, research shows change proponents will leave, not the status quo. Then you are stuck with an angry status quo (not something many pastors can survive). So from the very beginning of this process, you have to figure out how to move forward while living with both the status quo and the change proponents.

So instead of stopping abruptly or driving forward, tell everyone you are going to talk to people about the change and take some time to pray about it. Tell them that though the change will continue, it will do so more slowly and you are praying to find consensus. This gives the status quo a chance to see you are aware things aren’t quite going well. The change proponents will also be pleased that you understand the change is causing division.

Step 2: Talk to the naysayers. Research confirms that you must go to those who are against the change and listen to them. Don’t act immediately on any of their suggestions, this is just a “fact finding” visit. People against the change usually just want to be heard. They care for the church too! They just want to ensure that your change does not take away something that is important to them.

Pastors seem to have a hard time with this step. In my consultative practice, it seems many pastors exhibit conflict-avoidance behavior. Unfortunately, this will usually doom a church into warring factions unless the pastor takes up the role of moderator: bringing disparate people together in mission.

Step 3: Bring together the status quo and the change proponents. The pastor can be the moderator, but must not appear to take sides (even if they have in the past). Again, research cited in the book shows that when two sides get together they can come up with a “hybrid-plan” that works for both sides and works better than a plan with input from only one side.

Step 4: Apologize for not getting more input. You are not apologizing for the change, but for the data gathering beforehand. Everyone could do more data gathering. But, maybe you are thinking, “Hey, I shouldn’t have to apologize. I’m the leader.” Or maybe even “Why should I apologize, it was their idea?” And yes, the change may have been thrust upon you or you may have felt that they hired you to bring about change. But, as Jim Collins found when researching why healthy companies fall, it is often because leaders develop hubris that they make bad decisions. Hubris means a pride and ambition based upon education, social status, professional status or experience. Collins found the best leaders are ready to say, “I may have made a misstep here.”

Step 5: Implement the hybrid-plan. This may be the easiest step. Still snags will develop. But, because you got the two sides talking to one another in Step 3, it is easier now to get them back together to work out challenges.   A key here is that the pastor does not get between the two sides, or else both sides will take pot-shots at the pastor. Let them work out and adjust their hybrid plan together. You can be the coach, but for success they must be the players.

Step 6: Evaluate. This is a key step, that is often neglected. Evaluation adjusts strategies and increases impact. And, if you are going to adjust your strategies it is good to have both the status quo and change proponents doing the adjusting. So, just like in Steps 3 and 5, get together the two sides (after a month or so, sooner is better) and ask them to talk about what is working and what is not. Ask them to adjust their hybrid-plan.

Step 7: Bathe the whole process in prayer and listen to God. Both sides should be encouraged to pray, since the status quo and the change proponents, really in their hearts want the same thing: a church that is healthy and growing. Remember, when Jesus prayed for those that would follow Him down through history He prayed for our unity and for impact, praying “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:20-21)

Bio: Bob Whitesel is nationally-recognized church revitalization consultant, who holds a Ph.D. from Fuller Seminary on church change and has been called by a national magazine “the chief spokesperson on change theory in the church today.” In addition to consulting he serves as founding professor of Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University and their professor of Missional Leadership.

For more details on the “7 Steps” or information on church revitalization and growth consultations with Dr. Whitesel, visit http://www.BobWhitesel.com or http://www.ChurchHealth.expert

Speaking Hashtags: #BreakForth16

CHANGE & A Case Study of a Change That Divided a Church

by Bob Whitesel, 3/25/15.

I study how churches become divided over a change … and what can be done instead. Research shows that change often goes awry because a person in leadership inadvertently gives the “green light” to someone pushing for change (i.e. the change proponent). The change proponent then pushes ahead too fast, eventually alienating the “status quo” who blame the leader for giving the “green light.”

The leader’s action is called a “negative legitimizing event” because they inadvertently “legitimized” the new idea.  And, the result was “negative” because the change proponent ran too fast with the new idea.

However, research shows that division can be avoided if the leader:

  1. Slows down the change proponent (the person pushing for change)
  2. And helps the change proponent build consensus before moving forward.

Read about this research in my books: Bob Whitesel, Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change What You Can Do About It (Abingdon Press, 2003) or in my book, Preparing for Change Reaction: How To Introduce Change in Your Church (Wesleyan Publishing House, 2007).

Often I ask my students for “case studies” that depict a “negative legitimizing event.”  And I get some painfully humorous examples.  Here is one from my student, shared anonymously and by permission:

Negative Legitimizing Event:  A few years ago, we decided it was time to take the organ off of the stage.  The start of the conversation happened within the context of the worship team, who felt like they needed more space on the platform for musicians.  The organ was sizable and took up a chunk of stage real estate, and we had no organist in the church.  At most, the organ was used one time a year.  I was probably guilty of legitimizing this and launching into a situation where change happened too soon.

The next body involved was the administrative board.  We talked at length about this at one board meeting before it was decided to remove the organ and begin to seek how we could donate the instrument to another church.  Within two weeks of that meeting, the organ had been taken down.

What we did not realize (and would have if we had taken more time) is that our oldest member of the church (104 years old at the time this happened – she’s still alive at 108!) had donated money to purchase the first organ the church ever owned… and the money came from her deceased husband’s memorial money.  Even though that organ was long gone, this member felt deeply attached to whatever organ was on the stage.  Soon, the pushback began to happen quickly.

We ended up losing about six people as a result of this decision and created some distrust with a few remaining members who are still extremely cautious about change today.”

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

 

CHURCH PLANTING & How Conflict Avoidance Often Leads to Church Planting

by Bob Whitesel, 3/10/15.

The following are notes gleaned from my consultative work, where I have found avoidance of conflict to be one of the main struggles among pastors of churches that are stalled in growth in the medium and large size ranges.  Interviewing staff, key volunteers and board members I have noticed the following five (5) results often emerge when leaders avoid conflict.

Outcomes when senior leadership avoids conflict:

1.)  Conflict avoidance often leads to burnout in the leader. This is because the repression of stress creates internal turmoil in the leader which does not get resolved. It usually simmers under the surface until an alarm event (Whitesel, 2002, p. 94ff) pushes it to the front. The leader has repressed it so long the leader will often overact and congregants/staff will wonder why the leader is so upset. The level of irritation is often so great that sides will be formed (Whitesel, 2002, p. 109ff).

2.)  Conflict avoidance often leads to a great deal of external church planting (you will see shortly that because conflict avoidance is the rationale, these plants aren’t often given a healthy start). The senior leader avoids conflict for so long, that staff who are in conflict with him/her wind up leaving the church to plant another church. The planting of the church is actually a conflict avoidance behavior by the senior leader and planter, for in the name of multiplication this tactic distances discordant and innovative ideas from the mother church. The result is that churches become mono-cultural congregations, while at the same time feeling self-satisfied that they are planting churches (Whitesel, 2011, p. 61ff).  But, often the plant becomes mono-cultural too because the avoidance of conflict is a behavior the planted pastor has seen modeled for her/him and often adopts as a coping mechanism as well (Whitesel, 2007).

3)  Conflict avoidance often creates an uncomfortable staff relationship with the senior shepherd, because they don’t know how or when to address conflict. Often the senior leader will cancel or postpone meetings with staff, if the leader perceives it might involve conflict. Inside the leader may be thinking, “If I cancel this meeting the conflict will get resolved after the person has had time to think about it.” As a result, the staff will feel at the best disregarded and as the worst detached. The result is turnover among staff who are innovators and entrepreneurs.

4)  Conflict avoidance results in the staff who remain in the conflict avoidance environment are often those who are accommodators, usually with a high degree of tactical or operational leadership style. The strategic leaders, who are usually those that help churches grow and help the church diversify by reaching out to varying cultures, will go elsewhere. The result is that churches have only a few strategic thinkers, are more mono-cultural and are not able to diversify by reaching multiple cultures at the same time.

5)  Finally conflict avoidance often leads to a less innovative and cohesive personality for the organization.  Outsiders get the impression that change proponents leave that church and entrepreneurs are stifled there.

But, in most of the circumstances above the senior leader is well liked. In my case study research, the more a leader is liked, the more apt that leader is to be a conflict-avoider.  Subsequently, they may be popular among other leaders and asked to share their insights into church growth.  Most of that insight will have to do with planting churches.  But, if you talk to the pastors of many of those plants, as I have, you will find that they feel leaving the mother church was the best way to avoid an awkward situation where conflict was avoided.

Thus,

>  His/her avoidance of conflict creates an “uncomfortable” and “awkward” feeling among the staff when they are in conflict with the leader’s ideas.

> So, because the senior shepherd is well liked, the creative person will usually try to graciously distance themselves by going elsewhere.

> And, a new plant is launched – but with a wrong motivation and the wrong coping-mechanisms for handing conflict.

Thus, we can see from such case studies, that conflict avoidance can lead to a proliferation of small/weak daughter churches, less diverse mother churches and less satisfied work environments.

FOR FURTHER READING:

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

__________ (2007). Preparing for change reaction: How to introduce change in your church. Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House.

__________ (2011). ORGANIX: Signs of leadership in a changing church. Nashville: Abingdon Press.

TRANSFORMATION & The 8 Steps to Transforming Your Organization

by John Kotter, Harvard Business Review, 1/10/07.

8 Steps to Transforming Your Organization

1. Establishing a Sense of Urgency. Examining market and competitive realitiesIdentifying and discussing crises, potential crises, or major opportunities.

2. Forming a Powerful Guiding Coalition. Assembling a group with enough power to lead the change effortEncouraging the group to work together as a team.

3. Creating a Vision. Creating a vision to help direct the change effortDeveloping strategies for achieving that vision.

4. Communicating the Vision. Using every vehicle possible to communicate the new vision and strategies. Teaching new behaviors by the example of the guiding coalition.

5. Empowering Others to Act on the Vision. Getting rid of obstacles to change. Changing systems or structures that seriously undermine the vision. Encouraging risk taking and nontraditional ideas, activities, and actions.

6. Planning for and Creating Short-Term Wins. Planning for visible performance improvements. Creating those improvements. Recognizing and rewarding employees involved in the improvements.

7. Using increased credibility to change systems, structures, and policies that don’t fit the vision. Hiring, promoting, and developing employees who can implement the vision. Reinvigorating the process with new projects, themes, and change agents.

8. Institutionalizing New Approaches. Articulating the connections between the new behaviors and corporate success. Developing the means to ensure leadership development and succession.

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2007/01/leading-change-why-transformation-efforts-fail/ar/1

3-STRand LEADERSHIP & An In-depth Explanation of the 3 Leadership Types: Strategic, Tactical & Relational

PreparingChange_Reaction_Mdby Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D., excerpted from Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church by Bob Whitesel (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2007.  (Formerly I labeled this STO Leadership for strategic-tactical-operational, the terms used by military leaders. Most leadership colleagues/students find the concept of 3-STRand Leadership (Strategic-Tactical-Relational) even clearer).

Download the entire chapter here >> BOOK BW EXCERPT CR Change Reaction Chpt.2 STO Leaders ©Dr.Whitesel

Chapter 2: Why Is Change So Difficult To Manage? Strategic, Tactical and Relational Leadership

Change Reaction 1: “Our leaders are not good at bringing about change.” Congregations are cynical about church change … often because change is undertaken in an ineffective and disuniting manner.

How Church Change Drove a Family Away

It just happened one Sunday in 1962. My dad stopped going to church. Mother and I still attended, at least for the next year or so. But soon, our entire family no longer frequented the church my parents had attended since they were married.

Dad had been the head usher for the second of three Sunday services in this church of 1,500 attendees. In that role, he had organized 16-20 men each Sunday to receive the offering and help congregants find seats. Planning was minimal. Dad was supervised by Bill, the church’s Usher Supervisor who recruited, selected, trained and mentored ushers. Bill was an engineer for Delco-Remy, where he led an entire department in the burgeoning lighting division.

However, my father’s duties as head usher for the second service, were more straightforward. Dad had to ensure that each usher had enough bulletins, that ushers were at all entrances, and on occasion he had to conscript ushers from the audience is someone was missing. This was Dad’s close knit fellowship, and he often remarked that not since his World War II days had he enjoyed such camaraderie.

Dad also prayed over the offering. And because his prayer never changed, I can recall it to this day; for Gerald was an relational leader, and he liked consistency, uniformity and reliability. And because he exemplified these traits, he had been head usher of the second service for 4 years.

Why would a man of such consistency and reliability suddenly disconnect himself from his church? As a child I never understood, nor inquired. But, once grown I had occasion to ask my dad about his departure. Gerald’s disappearance was due to an honor. The faithful discharge of his duties as a head usher, had brought him to the attention of the church leaders. When Bill, the Usher Supervisor quit, Gerald was the natural choice to replace him. After all, my dad was head usher for the largest of three services. And he was faithful. Dad was honored, but also wary. None-the-less after some gentle prodding by the church leaders Dad was “rewarded” with a promotion to Usher Supervisor.

In this new capacity, Dad was now thrust into a leadership role that required oversight of 60 plus men. His duties now included scheduling and organizing on-going usher training, recruitment and oversight as well as replacing ineffective ushers. Dad had enjoyed his duties as head usher of one service, but now his responsibilities doubled if not tripled. And while his previous duties had been largely relational, now his tasks were increasingly organizational. Dad missed the interpersonal nature of his previous duties, and now saw himself increasingly isolated from the fellowship and camaraderie he had previously relished.

Additionally, the usher ministry suffered. Dad found it difficult to schedule pertinent and timely training, and Dad never felt comfortable with the recruitment and dismissal process. Dad was a man everyone liked, and he found it hard not to utilize a willing usher candidate, simply because of lack of skill, decorum or call.

The church leaders noticed this decline in the usher’s ministry. And, they subtly tried to work with Gerald. They tried to develop him into a director, who could oversee 60 plus men, and three different worship services. In the end, this was not Dad’s giftings or calling. Dad had been a successful sergeant during World War II, and he had successfully led a small team of men. But when it came to the oversight, tactical planning, recruitment and paperwork necessary to administrate a burgeoning ministry, Dad did not enjoy it, nor did he feel he had was called to do it.

The church leaders did not want to see Gerald quit, but the atmosphere of pressure and disappointment became too much. Without an avenue for retreat, one day Gerald simply called the church office and resigned. Dad was a gracious and loving man, the eldest child everyone seemed to like him. But, the feelings that he had let down his church and lost his camaraderie were too much. Dad couldn’t bear to see the looks of the other usher who he felt he had failed as their leader, and thus returning to church was too uncomfortable to bear. Dad simply faded away, and soon our family did as well.

In adulthood I began investigating leadership styles and in hindsight always wondered what happened to my Dad’s volunteerism. Dad had been so content and fulfilled as a sergeant in the military. But at church, his involvement had led to disappointment and failure. As I researched leadership abilities, I found that the military had an insightful understanding of leadership sectors, that might benefit the church. And, it has to do with three military leadership categories: strategic leaders, tactical leaders and relational leaders.[i]

Strategic Leaders

In History:

The word strategy come from the Greek word for a military general: strategoi. The generals of ancient Athens, led by the forward-thinking Pericles, undertook a grand building project to make Athens the cultural and political center of Greece. The Athenian generals’ strategy paid off, with beautiful buildings such as the Parthenon, making Athens the Greek capital.

Subsequently, in the military field the word strategic has come to refer to the bigger-picture planning that is done before a before a battle begins. Strategic leaders see the big picture, and envision outcomes before the battle commences. They intuitively know what the results should be, even though they are not experts in getting there. In the military, strategic leaders are generals, admirals, etc..

In Architecture:

An analogy from the world of art may be helpful. The strategic leader is akin to an artist. He or she seems the dim outline of the future, perhaps a gleaming office tower or an eye-catching museum. They can envision what it will look like once it is complete. But, they seek only general forms, shapes and appearances. They see the art and the results. We will develop this analogy more when we discuss shortly tactical leaders.

In the Military:

Strategic leaders are intentional, bigger-picture leaders who deal in theoretical, hypothetical concepts and strategies. For example, in World War II generals such as Dwight Eisenhower and Bernard Montgomery strategically knew that France must be invaded and wrestled from the German occupiers. The decisions to invade North Africa, Sicily, Italy and eventually France were decided upon by the generals. But, once each of the invasions commenced, leadership was put into the hands of tactical leaders.

In the Church.

Let’s look at some typical characteristics that distinguish leaders in the church. And, in my consultative work I have routinely witnessed that pastors can be drawn into the ministry by two competing roles.[ii]

  1. The shepherd. Many pastors enter the ministry due to a desire to help fellow humankind with a hands-on, relational, personal and mentoring type of leadership style. This is analogous to the guidance of a shepherd, and is reflected in scriptures about nurture, care and cultivation such as in Isaiah 40:11, “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” And, this is exemplified by Jesus who is described as, “our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep” (Hebrews 13:20). Pastors drawn by this role often become relational leaders (more on this shortly).
  2. The visionary. Pastors in this category have an overriding desire to make a significant impact for Christ and His kingdom. They are impassioned by statements such as John 4:34-38, “’My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, “Four months more and then the harvest”? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying “One sows and another reaps” is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor’.” Visionaries have what Church Growth researcher Win Arn called “church growth eyes … a developed characteristic of individuals and churches who have achieved a sensitivity to seeing possibilities….”[iii] Pastors drawn by this leadership role usually become strategic leaders (more on this in a moment).
  3. A Mixture. Oftentimes pastors and church leaders have a mixture of the two above roles, and may fluctuate between one or the other at various times in their ministerial journey. However, it is important to note the dissimilar nature of these roles. One seeks to build interpersonal camaraderie and intimacy, the other seeks to attain a physical forward-looking goal. In the former, intimacy is the purpose, and in the later the future goal is the purpose. Which is needed? They both are, but the wise church leader will employ each as the circumstance warrants and as their abilities allow. Thus, let’s look a bit more at strategic leadership.

Pastors attracted to the ministry because of a vision to make a significant impact for Christ often exhibit strategic leadership. And, they are often passionate about their work, for they see the depravity of humankind and they perceive how Christ provides the necessary answer. Subsequently, they are often highly enthusiastic and energetic about reaching people for Christ. This passionate can sometimes be misconstrued as a fervor for growth, size or power. And, such negative attributes can sneak in. However, what customarily motivates these individuals is the picture they envision of many people coming to know Christ. As such, visual and revelatory scriptures hold great sway, and they can readily perceive the “great multitudes of Revelation 7:9-10 “… a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb’.”

In the Change Process:

Strategic leaders are the first to notice that change is needed. This is because they are always looking ahead. To a degree, they live in the future better than the present. Thus, they can be frustrating to work with if not accompanied by the tactical leader. Strategic leaders thus see the need for change, and love discussing the rationale and theories of change.[iv] They know what the change should look like, but they have trouble seeing the individual steps to get there. Thus, they are critical for the change process, for they look ahead and see where the church is going and needs to go. But they are also frustrating for other leaders, because strategic leaders know what the results should look like, but they are weak at envisioning the step-by-step process.

Characteristics:

Strategic leadership is “future directed,”[v]” strategic leaders often want people to move forward, and thus they are the first to start moving in new directions. Historian Martin Marty said they “are extremely sensitive to where people are, but are not content to leave them there.”[vi]

Other names for strategic leaders are:

  1. Visionaries (George Barna,[vii] Leith Anderson[viii] and Phil Miglioratti[ix]).
  2. Role 1 Leaders (Phil Miglioratti[x]).
  3. “Top management” (John Wimber, Eddie Gibbs[xi]).
  4. “Strong, authoritative, directive pastoral leadership” (Wagner[xii]).
  5. Upper-level Management (John Kotter[xiii]).
  6. Sodality leadership, which is described as “vision setter, goal setter, strong leader, visionary, upper management” (Ralph Winter[xiv]).

Tactical Leaders

In History:

Tactical leaders compliment strategic leaders. Tactical leaders (from the Greek word taktike meaning organize) are those leaders skilled in the art of organizing, historically of an army. Such leaders are exact, accurate and specific. Tactical leaders lead the forces after the battle begins. They focus on allocation, analysis, planning, evaluation and adjustment once the strategic leaders set the direction. Tactical leaders in the military are customarily Colonels in rank on down.

In Architecture:

Returning for a moment to our architectural metaphor, the tactical leader is like a civil engineer.[xv] He or she may receive a general idea of the architectural form from the homeowner or architect. But, the tactical leader must compute the number of board-feet required, the utility needs and the component costs associated with every element of the endeavor. It is the engineer that puts together an infrastructure to undergird the artistic image the strategic leader has pictured.

In the Military:

In the World War II invasions of North Africa, Sicily, Italy and France it would have been a mistake to micro-manage the invasion by Generals far from the front. Instead, planning, adaptive tactics, evaluation, allocation, personnel deployment, and adjustments for winning the evasion are the responsibility of the tactical leaders once the battle had begun.

In the Church:

Tactical leaders receive their long-term goals from strategic leaders.[xvi] But tactical leaders contribute the critical and decisive tasks of planning, allocating, adjusting and analyzing that brings about the future envisioned by a strategic leader. And, tactical leadership fits these future plans into the ongoing life, tasks and rhythms of what church is doing presently. It has been said that tactical leadership “means fitting together of ongoing activities into a meaningful whole.”[xvii]   Tactical leadership makes the future, as seen by the strategic leader, happen in a unified manner. Management scholar Russell Ackoff’s definition describes the role of tactical leaders where “planning is the design of a desired future and of effective ways of bringing it about.”[xviii]

In the Change Process:

Thus a critical contribution that is often missing in our churches, is the tactical leader who makes change happen … in a unifying way. Here we see the answer to our initial change reaction, “our leaders are not good at bringing about change.” Our leaders do not succeed at change, because a critical link in making change happen is often missing: the tactical leader. Change does not succeed in its outcome, because the necessary tactically skilled leaders that can implement unifying change are not involved. We shall see at the end of this chapter, that we must integrate tactical leaders into the processes of change or changes we seek will not make things better … only less unified.

Characteristics:

Tactical leadership is an integrated skill. The tactical leader weds the past, the present and the future to move the church ahead. The tactical leader grasps the strategic leader’s vision of the future, but the tactical leader enjoys integrating these future plans into the ongoing and present life of the church. Tactical leaders also relish the planning process. They set timelines and allocate duties. They are delgators in the truest sense of the word. They should not be confused with relational leaders who do the work themselves. The tactical leader delegates fully, but then carefully evaluates the results.

And thus, tactical leaders are often pen and pencil (or stylus and PDA) people, who make copious notes as strategic leader expounds upon the future. Tactical leaders create spreadsheets, flowcharts, diagrams and designate work teams. Tactical leaders know who to bring big long-term projects down into easy, doable steps.

Thus, tactical leaders are the needed go-between to connect strategic leaders who grasp the big-picture, and relational leaders who get things done. Everyone appreciates tactical leaders, but regrettably they are usually outnumbered in our churches by strategic leaders and relational leaders. Thus, the organization suffers.

Other names for tactical leaders are:

  1. Administrators (Phil Miglioratti[xix]).
  2. Role Two Leaders (Phil Miglioratti [xx]).
  3. Middle-level management (Martin Butler and Robert Herman[xxi]).
  4. “Middle management” (John Wimber/Eddie Gibbs[xxii] and John Kotter[xxiii]).
  5. “Enables others to achieve goals” (Richard Hutcheson[xxiv]).
  6. Problem solvers (Gary Yukl[xxv]).
  7. Modality leadership, which is described as “enabler, team builder, ally, implementer” (Ralph Winter).[xxvi]

Relational Leaders

In History:

In the military relational leaders are the men and women who lead skilled teams on critical assignments. They have an immediate, urgent and vital task to perform. They may not see where their efforts fit into the bigger picture, but they are the masters of relational leadership. They lead an intentional and personal effort to build a team of interdependent soldiers. While the key to strategic leadership is forecasting and theorizing, and the contribution of tacticians is precision and allocation, the skill of the relational leader is his or her connection with their team and the ability to think creatively, improvise, adapt and be successful.

In Architecture:

These are the skilled craftsmen that build a house and give it the working components. They are often knowledgeable in a certain predefined field such as electrical, hearting/cooling, framing, etc., because of the complexity of the task. And, they like to see the immediate results of their hands. One relational leader told me, “I like to see immediate results from what I am doing. I do not have patience to wait for an outcome. That is why I am a painter. I like to see the results right now from what I am doing.” In contrast, the strategic leader may wait years to witness the culmination of a project, and thus may leap to a new idea before the first has come to fruition. The tactical leader is also patient in waiting for the project to be completed, but the tactical leader finds it rewarding to see that progress is being made and the end goal is getting nearer. However, for relational leaders, seeing immediate results in even small steps is one of the most rewarding parts of the process.

In the Military:

In the military, the battle is usually won or lost because of relational leaders. It is the teamwork, interdependence, improvisation, creativity and unity toward a goal that the relational leader fosters. Relational leaders lead small groups (think of a platoon leader or a head usher) and only partially delegate responsibility. In the military these are the Lieutenants, Sergeants, etc..

In the Church.

My dad was a sergeant in the military, and initially an relational leader who led his small team of second service ushers successfully for four years. Like many relational leaders in our churches, Dad enjoyed getting the job done. I often remember how fulfilled and satisfied he was after church, where he had faithfully discharged his duties with his team.

In the Change Process:

During the change process these are the church leaders who get things done. They often see things from the viewpoint of their task. If they are an usher, then as my Dad, ushering seemed like the most important job in the church. Still my dad, like many relational leaders today, knew that the church was an organic organism of many functions and ministries (1 Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 4:11-13). But Dad so enjoyed the task at hand, that at least for him and his giftings this was the most important job imaginable. As a result he discharged his duties with speediness, precision, care and results.

Characteristics:

Relational leaders have the knowledge, skill, relational abilities and dedication to get a job done. Once the parameters are defined and they see how their task fits into the bigger-picture (they are helped in this by the tactical leader), the relational leader can accomplish almost anything. Anthropologist Margaret Mead observed, “Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” [xxvii] And, thus the contribution of the relational leader is critical to the change process.

Relational leaders often love their job so much, that they do not see themselves “moving out” of this role in the foreseeable future.[xxviii]

But, if the relational leader does not have the go-between of a tactical leader, the strategic leader’s vision may be too imprecise to motivate the relational leader. Thus, we see once again while all three types of leadership are needed, but it is the glue that the go-between tactical leader provides that helps the relational leader move the strategic leader’s vision forward.

Other names for tactical leaders are:

  1. Workers (Phil Miglioratti[xxix]).
  2. Role Three Leaders (Phil Miglioratti[xxx]).
  3. Foremen (John Wimber, Eddie Gibbs[xxxi]).

Relational – Tactical – Strategic Leaders: A Comparison

Let us return to our true story above. My father, Gerald, had been a successful sergeant in the military. He was known as loyal to his men, constantly looking out for their safely, but always leading them toward a visible goal within parameters that were provided to him. In such scenarios he excelled. And thus, as the head usher of the second service he flourished as a leader of a ministry team.

The disaster began when the church leadership, largely unaware of distinctives between strategic, tactical and relational leadership, “rewarded” my father with tactical leadership. Dad was an relational leader and he enjoyed leadership that was defined by relationships and connectedness. Phil Miglioratti, who describing strategic leadership as Role One leadership and tactical leadership as Role Two leadership, observed, “a mistake is made when these active dependable servants are ‘rewarded’ for their work my ‘promoting’ them to Role One or Two positions.”[xxxii]

Tactical leadership has more to do with allocation, analysis, creating tactical plans, and evaluation of effectiveness. Thus mechanical processes, of which as Gerald’s son I am more inclined, did not attract my Dad, nor where they aligned with his gifts. Dad was more personable than I will ever be, and he led a small team to success in World War II and at his church.

In Today’s Church, Tactical Leaders Are Missing

Today congregants often don’t know what to call a leader: a visionary, a realist, a planner, a strategist, a facilitator, a coach, or …? I’ve noticed that my students often lump church board leaders into two board categories: “board realists ” or “board visionaries.”

Actually my students have got two-thirds of the categories right. And, there may a better term for both groups. Who some students call realists should be called: tactical leaders. These are leaders who see the important nuts-and-bolts implication of a new idea. They see the cost involved, the human power needed and the steps that are required. They often appear not to be receptive to new ideas because they see the elaborate infrastructure and cost that will be required. Thus, they often butt heads with strategic leaders, because while strategic leaders see the future clearly, the tactical leaders sees the immediate expenses more acutely.

And the “board visionaries” are those strategic board leaders who see the bigger picture more sharply, than they see the route to get there.

Regrettably, in the past 25+ years I have seen a decline in the important tactical leaders, and instead a proliferation of strategic leaders in our churches.[xxxiii] Most church pastors have read books about visionary leadership, and our seminaries have done a better job at fostering bigger-picture leaders. But an unfortunate outcome is that tactical church leaders are often missing in our congregations. And thus, churches cannot bring about change because they are drowning under a deluge of strategic visionaries with big ideas and multiple strategies … but with little idea of how to get there. We need a return in our churches to the development and deployment of tactical leaders.

In Today’s Church, Strategic Leaders Are Abundant

And thus, congregants we label visionaries should probably better be called: strategic leaders. These are church leaders who see the bigger picture, though how to get there is cloudy. They capture a picture in their minds about what a new worship service can look like, but they are not as clear regarding the steps needed to attain it. While strategic leaders see the future, they often lack the analytical, precise and number-crunching nature to move the process forward. As noted earlier, I believe many pastors go into the ministry because they can see the strategic long term picture. They relate to Jesus’ admonition to “Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:35). Strategic pastors can readily picture this image. They sermonize upon the importance of seeing the mission field, but when it comes to mounting a step-by-step strategy, analysis and evaluation … they are usually quiet.

The problem is exacerbated because strategic leaders tend to hire associate and assistant pastors like themselves: strategic leaders. Thus, a church can be full of bigger-picture people (and thus an explosion of new ideas) without having the missing tactical leaders needed to draft the budget, organize the training, recruit the volunteers and evaluate the results to make adjustments.

In Today’s Church, Relational Leaders Are Often Wrongly Promoted To Tactical Leadership

On the other end of the spectrum are the many relational leaders like my dad who keep a church humming. They enjoy the tasks they are given, often relational and thus relational in nature. But when these dear loyal saints are promoted to tactical leadership, they find their skill-set does not match expectations. And, rather than let the church leaders down (remember the relational leader’s skills are relational), the relational leader in a tactical job will stop doing their job (often by resigning, but not in person) and quietly disappearing (again to prevent further damage to relationships).

Again, the result is that our churches are missing tactical leaders. The tactical leader’s gift for analysis, number-crunching and in-depth planning is often seen as profane in comparison to the more pious duties of relationship building (relational leadership) or long-term envisioning (strategic leadership).[xxxiv] But all three are needed! We must promote both balance and holism in our management styles. We must discover, develop and deploy the important tacticians in our churches to create a link between strategic thinkers and relational leaders.

STOP! Don’t Go Any Further Without Tactical Leaders

It is permissible to read further, but please don’t attempt to bring about any of the change processes in this book (or any other book) before you get your tactical leaders in place. As we have seen from the above, these practical and precise leaders are often overlooked in a sea of strategic visionaries and hard-working relational workers.

My observation from client case studies, is that roughly 10% of a congregation are tactical leaders, another 10% are strategic (e.g. visionary) leaders, while the remaining 80% are relational leaders.

Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto is famed for saying that 80% of the value lies in 20% of the ingredients. And thus, his statement has been interpreted to infer that 20% of the people, do 80% of the work. Again, my experience with client case studies would tend to confirm percentages close to Pareto’s principle.

Thus, of that 20% that is doing the work I have observed that 8% are visionaries and 8% are workers, with 4% tactical leaders.

Now if my field observations are correct, then we are not getting 72% of our relational leaders involved. My hunch is that this is because we do not have enough tactical leaders to create suitable tactics and equip relational leaders for the task. Thus, congregational relational leaders will often lament that a church is too unorganized, when in reality they mean that the church is missing key tactical leaders to organize the strategic leaders’ visions.[xxxv]

How To Help Leaders Succeed “At Bringing About Change”

Here then is a primary reason why change is hard for churches to undertake, and congregants lament, “Our leaders are not good at bringing about change.” It is because we often do not have tactical leaders in place to successfully bring about change. It is tactical leaders who can orchestrate and oversee a step-by-step plan for change.

Church change is usually handled just by strategic leaders who make a case for seeing the bigger-picture, without giving clear insight about how to get there. The result is that church relational leaders sense a gap: between what the strategic leader pictures, and how to get it done. The result is that the relational leader resists change, because a clear route to get there has not been articulated.

            Three (3) Things Must Happen To Get Tactical Leaders Involved:

  1. Tactical leaders must be recruited and involved in the change process. Look for people who have the following characteristics:
    • They are planners.
    • They analyze needs and appropriate funds.
    • They create budgets.
    • They help obtain goal ownership from relational leaders.
    • They are hesitant about new ideas, because they can see the barriers and roadblocks that must be surmounted.
    • They are frustrated when strategic leaders try to micro-mange the tactical process, by offering too many ideas, corrections, adjustments, etc.
  2. Tactical leaders must be allowed to drop their current responsibilities to tackle change.
    • Because there is so much precision in the tactical leader’s work, they cannot juggle as many projects as the strategic leader can envision. Remember, the strategic leader sees the bigger-picture but the actual mechanics are not as clear and require more effort to create.
    • Thus, the detail needed in tactical planning prevents the tactical leader from being able to do a good job if he or she is juggling too many responsibilities.
    • Therefore the tactical leader must be allowed to drop some of their current responsibilities if these tasks are not aligned with the tactical leaders tactical gifts, or if their duties are not as crucial to the future of the church as are the new changes.
  1. Tactical leaders need a rough plan.
    • They need a general plan which the tactical leader can follow, indigenize and improve upon.
    • In my book (Preparing for Change Reaction), the plan for change is laid out in Chapters 3 – 9.

A Recap of Change Reaction 1: “Our leaders are not good at bringing about change.”

To the change reaction, “Our leaders are not good at bringing about change,” we discover the reason is because the tactical leaders, key go-betweens among the strategic and relational leaders, are missing. While both strategic and relational leaders are still needed, neither have the requisite skills of analysis, step-by-step planning, number-crunching, and detail management to bring a change to fruition. This is the contribution of the tactical leaders. Thus, typically in our churches we have:

Strategic Leaders.

They see the need and the future. They have a limited idea of how to get there, but they have been exposed to various models to accomplish change. However, strategic leaders do not typically have the patience to analyze, fine-tune, crunch-the-numbers, tweak, perfect, evaluate and adjust a strategy. Subsequently, strategic leaders often try to just apply (e.g. franchise) a strategy that has worked elsewhere. The strategic leader may purchase step-by-step manuals for relational leaders. And while this is a good starting place, because tactical leaders who can adjust the methodology for the church’s own unique scenario are not involved, the canned strategy is often abandoned with people saying “that doesn’t work here.” Again, the problem is not the strategic leaders or the relational leaders. They are both doing their jobs. The problem is created because an important linking and planning element of leaders is missing: the tactical leaders and their organizational skills.

Tactical Leaders

They then become our crucial … and missing link in effective change. If they are missing, change strategies are not adapted to the local context and the process is unorganized.

Relational Leaders

In military jargon these are the “boots on the ground,” meaning the frontline workers who must adjust the tactics they are given. They are relational teams of workers, who derive much of their satisfaction from both their teammates and their visible accomplishments. Relational leaders may also volunteer to be tactical leaders, because relationships are so important to them they do not want to see the strategic leader in a quandary. They may say something like “Pastor, I know you are in a spot here. So I’ll help you out.” If an relational leader says this, interview that person and then if this relational leaders does not have the analytical, diagnostic and methodical skills to create and manage an elaborate plan, graciously decline their offer. To thrust relational leaders into tactical positions will frustrate them, and eventually due to their gracious and relational nature, they will quietly fade away from their failed tactical task.

Change is Difficult Because Tactical Leaders Are Missing

Why then does change so often fail in congregations? It has been my observation that it is because strategic leaders (often pastors) try to orchestrate the tactical process. Often if a strategic leader in the role of a pastor or a department head tries to move the church forward with some change, the congregants will become frustrated because of a lack of precision in the plan. The plan to them will appear too nebulous and imprecise.

At the same time the strategic leader will expect the relationally-orientated relational leaders to create a plan. And though the relational leaders are the key to the success of the process, their emphasis upon relationships usually trumps their interest in the administrative details, budgeting, volunteer recruitment and evaluation that is required.

The answer is that change needs the critical link between strategic leader and relational leaders: tactical leadership. Therefore, to succeed with change, it is important that at the outset of this book the pastor look around him or her develop those tactical leaders who can map-out the change processes outlined in this book, and who will enjoy doing so.

Questions for Group Study

  1. What kind of tasks do you enjoy? Circle only those letters that correspond to tasks you greatly
    1. Dreaming about the future.
    2. Preparing a budget.
    3. Getting to know a person you work with.
    4. Graphing on paper a new plan.
    5. Analyzing what when wrong with a past strategy.
    6. Creating a visual map of the planning process.
    7. Balancing your checkbook.
    8. Sharing about your family history.
    9. Reading books on new ideas.
    10. Attending seminars on creativity.
    11. Tackling a numerical problem.
    12. Reading books on history.
    13. Researching costs associated with a project.
    14. Creating a survey.
    15. Taking a survey.
    16. Leading under 12 people on a project.
    17. Recording the minutes of a meeting.
    18. Loading and adjusting new software on your computer.
    19. Designing ways to better communicate an idea.
    20. Relaxing by sharing with friends about hobbies.
    21. Relaxing by sharing with friends about what when wrong.
    22. Relaxing by dreaming with friends about new ideas.
    23. Working on a hobby with a few closer friends.
    24. You share your personal feelings easily with others.
    25. You share your new ideas easily with others.
    26. You like to get a job done with a minimum of fuss.

For each letter you circled, put a check in the corresponding box:

For each of the following letters you circled, put a check in this BOX: C, H, P, T, W, X, Z For each of the following letters you circled, put a check in this BOX: B, D, E, F, G, K, M, N, Q, R, S, U For each of the following letters you circled, put a check in this BOX: A, I, J, L, O, V, Y
Total up the check marks: Total up the check marks: Total up the check marks:
Relational Leader Tactical Leader Strategic Leader
You may be primarily comfortable with a leader style associated with the box that contains the most checkmarks.[xxxvi]
  1. Who are tactical leaders in your congregation? And what are they currently doing? Ask yourself the following questions.
    • How critical for the future of the organization are the current jobs that these tactical leaders are undertaking?
    • Could these tactical leaders be used more effectively in other areas, perhaps helping the church move forward with some change? (This is a question that will be quickly answered by strategic leaders.)
    • Are these tactical leaders overworked and in danger of burn-out? (This is a question that will be more promptly answered by relational leaders.)
  1. What does this statement from earlier in the chapter mean, “we must integrate tactical leaders into the processes of change that this book describes or changes we seek will not make things better … only less unified and more confusing?”
    • What will you do to see this does not happen?
    • List seven tactical leaders that you will recruit and engage in reading this book.

           Tactical Leader:            Contact Information:

  1. ______________________________ ________________
  2. ______________________________ ________________
  3. ______________________________ ________________
  4. ______________________________ ________________
  5. ______________________________ ________________
  6. ______________________________ ________________
  7. ______________________________ ________________

 

[i] Within military leadership theories there are many nuanced categories. However, to keep the present discussion from becoming too unwieldy, we will focus on the three broad categories of strategic leadership, tactical leadership and operational (i.e. relational) leadership. For a good overview of the historical importance and tensions of the top levels of military leadership see, Mark A. Stoler, Allies and Adversaries: The Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Grand Alliance, and U.S. Strategy in World War II (Chapel Hill, No. Carolina: The University of North Carolina Press, 2000).

[ii] These are certainly not the only two forces that draw pastors into the ministry. However, in my consultative work I have seen these two categories appear with surprising regularity. In addition, these two categories provide a helpful framework for distinguishing how pastors with relational leadership skills vary from those with strategic leadership abilities.

[iii] Win Arn, “A Church Growth Look at … Here’s Life America,” The Pastors Church Growth Handbook (Pasadena, Calif.: Church Growth Press, 1987), p. 45.

[iv] There is an important difference in organization theory between theories of change and theories of changing (see Warren G. Bennis, Changing Organizations [New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996]). Theories of change refer to how change occurs, while theories of changing investigate how to control or manipulate change. Subsequently, strategic leaders will customarily focus on theories of change, while tactical leaders will gravitate toward theories of changing. Unless this subtle, but important difference is noted, strategic leaders and tactical leaders may talking about two different things, but using the same term. Hence, confusion in our churches often results between our visionary leaders and the administrative tactical leaders who must bring these visions to fruition.

[v] H. Ozbekhan, “Toward a General Theory of Planning,” in E. Jantsch, ed., Perspective in Planning (Paris, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 1969), p. 151.

[vi] Martin Marty, “Lutheran Scholar ‘Sprinkles Methodist Advice,” in The United Methodist Reporter (Dallas, Texas: 1986), March 28.

[vii] Christian pollster George Barna correctly emphasizes that for a strategic leader, a clear vision of the future is important. And, Barna in his popular book, The Power of Vision (Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books, 1992, p. 28, 38-39) describes a vision as “ a clear mental image of a preferable future imparted by God, and based on an accurate understanding of God, self and circumstances.” Yet, the popularity of Barna’s definition may have clouded the picture, as strategically-orientated pastors latched on to this definition, which lacks the complimentary emphasis that it is tactical leadership that will get you there.

[viii] Leith Anderson, Dying for Change (Minneapolis, Minn.: Bethany Publishing House, 1990), pp. 177-178.

[ix] Phil Miglioratti, “Putting Your Laymen When They Will Do the Most Good,” The Pastor’s Church Growth Handbook (Pasadena, Calif.: Church Growth Press, 1979), p. 146.

[x] Ibid.

[xi] Eddie Gibbs, I Believe in Church Growth (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans Publishing House, 1981), pp. 380, 383-385.

[xii] C. Peter Wagner, Leading Your Church to Growth (Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books, 1984), p. 73-74.

[xiii] John Kotter, A Force for Change: How Leadership Differs from Management (Boston: Harvard University Press, 1990).

[xiv] C. Peter Wagner, Leading Your Church to Growth, op. cit., pp. 141-165.

[xv] The architectural analogy is not meant to be wholly precise, but rather to serve as an approximate illustration. To be sure, many architects demonstrate not only strategic bigger-picture leadership, but also the tactical engineering skills to engineer a building. This is similar to how a church leader may function on several levels of leadership at the same time. Again, the purpose here is not to tender a inflexible illustration, but to give a general idea of the complimentary interplay of strategic, tactical and relational skills.

[xvi] Management scholar Russell Ackoff says of tactical leadership, “the principle complexity in planning derives from the interrelatedness of the decisions rather than from the decisions themselves” (Russell L. Ackoff, A Concept of Corporate Planning [New York: John Wiley & Sons Inc, 1970] pp. 2-3). What Ackoff means is that tactical planning has to take into consideration the connectedness of all past, present and future decisions and work out a complex change strategy that considers all of these factors. The most frequent failure in the planning process is due to a lack of tactical leaders who can integrate and coordinate multiple concerns. Often plans for change are brought about by strategic leaders who are too concerned about the future (to consider fully the present and/or past), and relational leaders who are overly concerned about the needs of the present (and the relationships involved). While in this chapter I have argued that all three types of leaders are needed (strategic-tactical-relational), it is the absence of tactical leaders that often leaves the church with a feeling that change rarely produces good results.

[xvii] Herman R. Van Gunsteren, The Quest for Control: A Critique of the Rational Control Rule Approach in Public Affairs (New York: John Wiley & Sons Inc, 1976), p. 2

[xviii] Russell L. Ackoff, A Concept of Corporate Planning, op. cit., p. 1.

[xix] Phil Miglioratti, “Putting Your Laymen When They Will Do the Most Good,” op. cit., p. 146

[xx] ibid.

[xxi] D. Martin Butler and Robert D. Herman, “Effective Ministerial Leadership,” Nonprofit Management and Leadership (1999), 9:229-239.

[xxii] Eddie Gibbs, I Believe in Church Growth, op. cit., pp. 380, 382-383.

[xxiii] John Kotter, A Force for Change: How Leadership Differs from Management, op. cit.. Kotter muddies the water a bit, by making a imprecise distinction between leadership and management. Kotter would agree with this author, that there are strategic leaders and tactical leaders. However, Kotter calls what strategic leaders do: “leadership.” And he labels what tactical leaders do as: “management.” While it is laudable that Kotter is trying to help distinguish between strategic and tactical leadership, the widespread use of the terms “leadership” and “management” probably mean they are too popular to now be more narrowly defined. Thus, Kotter’s goal is good, to distinguish between strategic and tactical leaders, but his terminology is probably too imprecise.

[xxiv] Richard Hutcheson, J., The Wheel Within the Wheel: Confronting the Management Crisis of the Pluralistic Church (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1979), p. 54.

[xxv] Gary Yukl, Managerial Practices Survey (Albany, New York: Gary Yukl and Man Associates, 1990).

[xxvi] C. Peter Wagner, Leading Your Church to Growth, op. cit., pp. 141-165.

[xxvii] Popular attestation, http://www.quoteworld.org/quotes/8891

[xxviii] Phil Miglioratti, “Putting Your Laymen When They Will Do the Most Good,” op. cit., p. 146

[xxix] Ibid.

[xxx] ibid.

[xxxi] Eddie Gibbs, I Believe in Church Growth, op. cit., pp. 380, 381.

[xxxii] Phil Miglioratti, “Putting Your Laymen When They Will Do the Most Good,” op. cit., p. 147.

[xxxiii] Though today tactical leaders are often missing in our churches, this was not always the case. In the early 1980s Peter Wagner and other leaders in the Church Growth Movement lamented that mostly tactical leaders were being trained in seminaries. Wagner would label strategic leadership as “strong leadership,” and tactical leadership he would call “enabler leadership.” Thus Wagner observed in 1984 with obvious Orwellian overtones (C. Peter Wagner, Leading Your Church to Growth, op. cit., pp. 73-75), “one reason why strong pastoral leadership is not characteristic of many of American’s churches is that in the recent past clergy have been taught just the opposite in the seminaries … They were taught to reject strong, authoritative, directive pastoral leadership….The alternative has been the model of pastor as an ‘enabler.”…What exactly is an enabler? Richard Hutcheson puts it this way: ‘An enabler or facilitator is a relatively uninvolved technician who understands the process by which things are accomplished and who enables other to achieve goals’ (Richard Hutcheson, J., The Wheel Within the Wheel: Confronting the Management Crisis of the Pluralistic Church, op. cit., p. 54).” What Wagner and Hutcheson are describing as enablers, I would define in organizational terms as tactical leaders. And I would disagree with Hutcheson on one point. I have found that tactical leaders are not “relatively uninvolved,” but only appear to be so because they enjoy the impersonal and technical tasks of planning, analysis, evaluation and adjustment.

[xxxiv] Richard Hutcheson, J. in The Wheel Within the Wheel: Confronting the Management Crisis of the Pluralistic Church, op. cit., p. 53 describes how the group dynamics movement within the Human Resource field emphasized interpersonal relationships in management. Thus, tactical leadership came to be viewed incorrectly as more profane in contrast to its strategic and relational counterparts. However, the reader of this chapter should be able to see that all three leadership skills, strategic-tactical-relational, are required for effective change to take place.

[xxxv] The 12% of the strategic leaders who are unengaged is probably due to the lack of tactical leaders as well. Church leaders often lament to me that there is no one in the church available to implement their new ideas, and thus they keep their ideas to themselves.

[xxxvi] This questionnaire is not designed to be a definitive categorization for these three types of leadership skills, but rather a general indicator. And, you may find you have scored differently than you anticipated. In such circumstances and if comfortable to do so, share with friends and coworkers your score, and ask for comment upon your leadership categorization. Remember, neither category is preferential to the others, for the proper and organic functioning of all three is required for change to take place. In addition, oftentimes leaders move from one leadership category to another based upon circumstance or time. For instance, sometimes congregants who have been tactical leaders in the past and know the great degree of energy and effort such leadership requires, may thus want a sabbatical from tactical duties. This is permissible and proper, as God Himself rested from His labors (Exodus 20:8) as well as required this of His servants (Leviticus 25:2, Mark 2:27).

Speaking hashtags: #STO.  3-STRand   STRand   #ThinkTankOH  #TTOH   #3-STR #3-STRand. #TTIN

VISION & Getting People to Believe in Something They Can’t Yet Imagine in 4 Steps

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Traditional, and increasingly less effective change theory, says you “invoke authority” to bring about change (see Robert Cialdini’s book Influence: the psychology of persuasion (2006). However recent research has shown that this does not work today (ORGANIX: Signs of leadership in the changing church, 2010). Harvard Business Review research suggests four elements for bringing about change without having to ‘invoke authority’.”

1) Incremental improvement which can be easily grasped, it is not is threatening. So start with small changes.

2) Give a demonstration on a small scale, so people can see firsthand the benefits.

3) Do a pilot project. Even though the change may need to be permanent, doing a small pilot project with an end date can help people understand it’s value.

4) Inevitability. If the change is inevitable then consistently yet slowly make this argument. See my book Staying power: Why people leave the church over change and what you can do about it (2002) and Preparing for change reaction: How to introduce change in a church (2009) for research that shows you must still go slow and gain consensus.

But if you go slow and gain consensus – the above four ideas can help you bring about change in an organization where your social capital is still emerging.”

Read more at … http://blogs.hbr.org/2014/10/getting-people-to-believe-in-something-they-cant-yet-imagine/