by Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D., 6/21/15. (adapted and annotated by the author from his book with Mark DeYmaz, reMix: Transitioning Your Church to Living Color, Abingdon Press, 2017).
John Kotter is a renowned and respected change coach who perfected eight steps for organizational change that have been applied successfully to thousands of organizational transitions.1 Harvard Business Review said, “Perhaps nobody understands the anatomy of organizational change better than retired Harvard Business School professor John P. Kotter.”2
NOTE: Here is a link Kotter’s seminal 1995 article and #InfoGraphic on change and the best overview of this Harvard professor’s change methods.
I have consulted or mentored hundreds of church transitions. And, I have found Kotter’s eight stages to be reliable, valid and important steps for a healthy church transition to living color.
Here are the key phases for implementing the principles and procedures of a church revitalization.
1. “Establishing a Sense of Urgency.”
2. “Forming a Powerful Guiding Coalition.”
3. “Creating a Vision.”
NOTE: A vision should be a “visual representation” of what the church will look like in 5 years. USE: (a.) A small group to create, (b) a short statement to communicate. Here is an article on “The Art of Crafting a 15-word Strategy Statement” from Harvard Business Review Good vision statements and Poor Vision Statements (compared).
4. “Communicating the Vision.”
5. “Empowering Others to Act on the Vision.”
6. “Planning for and Creating Short-Term Wins.”
NOTE: This is probably the most overlooked step.
7. “Using increased credibility to change systems, structures, and policies that don’t fit the vision.”
NOTE: There is a “continuum” or “progress toward” better models for a multicultural (or multiethnic) church. All are found in The Health Church (Wesleyan Publishing House). Here are three from good … better … and best:
8. “Institutionalizing New Approaches.”
You can download the article here >> WHITESEL ARTICLE 8 Steps to Changing a Church
Below is the slide I use in my presentations >>
1 John Kotter, Leading Change, (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1996), John Kotter, “Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail,” Harvard Business Review (Boston, Harvard Business Publishing, 2007), retrieved from https://hbr.org/2007/01/leading-change-why-transformation-efforts-fail/ar/1
2 Editor’s note to John Kotter, ibid. Harvard Business Review.
3 John Kotter, “Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail,” Harvard Business Review (Boston, Harvard Business Publishing, 2007), retrieved from https://hbr.org/2007/01/leading-change-why-transformation-efforts-fail/ar/1
4 James Strong The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Carol Stream, IL: Thomas Nelson, 1990), 1515.
5 Bob Whitesel, Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change and What You Can Do About It (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002) and Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2008).
6 Scott Wilcher, MetaSpeak: Secrets of Regenerative Leadership to Transform your Workplace, Ph.D. dissertation (Nashville: Turnaround 2020 Conference, 2013).
F. J. Barrett and D.L. Cooperrider, Generative metaphor intervention: A new approach for working with systems divided by conflict and caught in defensive perception, Journal of Applied Behavioral Science (Maryland: Silver Springs, NTL Institute, 1990) Vol. 26, pp. 219-239
Exploring Strategic Change, 3rd Edition (New York: Pierson Publishing, 2008).
G. Bushe and A. Kassam, When is Appreciative Inquiry Transformational? A Meta-Case Analysis, Journal of Applied Behavioral Science (Maryland: Silver Springs, NTL Institute, 2005) Vol. 41, pp. 161-18.
Speaking hashtags: #CaribbeanGraduateSchoolOfTheology
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I created a new typology for understanding multicultural churches: The 5 Types of Multicultural Churches and ranked each based on how well they create reconciliation (to God) and reconciliation (to one another). See my address to academics and popular articles on this here:
MULTICULTURAL & 8 Steps to Transitioning to 1 of 5 Models of a Multicultural Church #GCRNJournal by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., The Great Commission Research Journal, Biola University, 3/1/17.
UNITY & 5 ways church unity creates a powerful influence in your city by Bob Whitesel, chapter “The Church as a Mosiax: Exercise for Cultural Diversity” in
re;MIX Transitioning Your Church to Living Color (Abingdon Press, 2017).
The Church as a Mosaic: Exercises for Cultural Diversity, A Guest Post by Dr. Bob Whitesel (Dr. Bob Whitesel explores what it would look like for the church to be variety of ethnicities and cultures) overview courtesy of Ed Stetzer on The Exchange, Christianity Today, 2/10/14.
If Reconcilation are the goals, then one of the best strategies is to integrate a church rather than just plant or support an autonomous congregation (and in the push both congregations apart).
In the chapter I contributed to the book, Gospel after Christendom: New voices, New cultures, New expressions (ed. Bolger, Baker Academic Books, 2012), that before St. Thomas’s Church in Sheffield, England became England’s largest multicultural congregation … it was first a multicultural merger between a small Baptist church and a small Church of England congregation.
The power of mergers has been under estimated and underutilized in creating multicultural churches.
And, with so many small struggling mono-cultural congregations, the idea of merging two homogeneous congregations to create a multicultural congregation needs to be the strategy of more churches and denominations.
The power of mergers has been under estimated and underutilized in creating multicultural churches.
See my book The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to Strengthen a Church’s Heart (Wesleyan Publishing House, 2013) for ideas and the chapter “The Church as a Mosiax: Exercise for Cultural Diversity.” You can read an overview courtesy of Ed Stetzer on The Exchange, in Christianity Today.
Also, read this article for more ideas:
by Sandhya Dirks, National Public Radio, Weekend Edition, 8/11/18.
… Which brings us to Pastor Kyle Brooks and Pastor Bernard Emerson. They knew creating an inter-racial church was not going to be easy, but they kept kicking the idea around. They would take long walks through Oakland’s Dimond District and dream about it out loud. Maybe at some point in the future, they thought.
Then a year ago, Neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, and they felt like they could no longer wait.
First, they had to break it to their congregations.
“I saw it on facebook, and instantly I typed back, ‘oh my god, this is exactly what I’ve been looking for,'” said LaSonya Brown, who had been attending Emerson’s church, The Way, for about a year. “I’ll be the first one to join,” she said.
Brown was raised in a black church with only two white people in it. One was her godfather, who had married into the black community, the other was a white woman who would “speak in tongues, and then translate the tongue.”
“I never knew her name, but I’ll never forget her,” Brown said. Despite it being different than what she had known before, Brown welcomed the idea of an inclusive congregregation. “I think it was something that I wanted, but I didn’t realize that I wanted it until I saw his post,” she said.
At first she thought it was going to happen instantly, just everyone showing up to church together. But it is not that easy to flip the switch on hundreds of years of segregated worship.
“It’s much more complicated than that,” Brown said. “You don’t think that your life is different than somebody else,” but it can be. In an ideal world, she said, people want to think about what they have in common and not their differences.
But we do not live in that ideal world of race relations. “There’s a lot of things that we don’t do in common,” she said. “But we do want to know how to be together.”
Each church individually went through months of workshops and classes, owning up to their own fears about what merging would mean.
Many people in Pastor Brooks’ white congregation were afraid of being uncomfortable. There was a feeling of discomfort around everything from different hymns, to the service being in a different neighborhood, to different styles of worship. There was also discomfort in having to face up to their responsibility, as white people, in ongoing American racism. Everyone in the church was excited about the merger, but that did not make it easy.
Pastor Emerson’s congregation was also supportive, and not just because they are largely family. The black congregants of The Way had different fears, fears that they might not be welcomed. Emerson said some of them asked, “will they accept us for who we are?”
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Since Mark DeYmaz and I wrote our book about how homogeneous congregations can transition to churches of living color (book is called ReMIX from Abingdon Press) there has been an increase in multicultural churches.
This latest research from my friend and colleague Dr. Kevin Daughtery at Baylor University, indicates that almost 20% of churches are transitioning to multicultural congregations.
Learn about this exciting new trend in the article below and then pick up a copy of ReMIX: Transitioning your Church to Living Color (Abingdon Press) to find out how almost any church can do it.
By Terry Goodrich, Baylor Univ. communications, 6/20/18
The percentage of multiracial congregations in the United States nearly doubled from 1998 to 2012, with about one in five American congregants attending a place of worship that is racially mixed, according to a Baylor University study.
While Catholic churches remain more likely to be multiracial — about one in four — a growing number of Protestant churches are multiracial, the study found. The percentage of Protestant churches that are multiracial tripled, from 4 percent in 1998 to 12 percent in 2012, the most recent year for which data are available.
In addition, more African-Americans are in the pulpits and pews of U.S. multiracial churches than in the past, according to the study.
Multiracial congregations are places of worship in which less than 80 percent of participants are of the same race or ethnicity.
“Congregations are looking more like their neighborhoods racially and ethnically, but they still lag behind,” said lead author Kevin D. Dougherty, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences. “The average congregation was eight times less diverse racially than its neighborhood in 1998 and four times less diverse in 2012.”
“More congregations seem to be growing more attentive to the changing demographics outside their doors, and as U.S. society continues to diversify by race and ethnicity, congregations’ ability to adapt to those changes will grow in importance,” said co-author Michael O. Emerson, Ph.D., provost of North Park University in Chicago.
For the study, Dougherty and Emerson analyzed data from the National Congregations Study, a nationally representative survey conducted in 1998, 2006-2007 and 2012, with a cumulative sample of 4,071 congregations. The study by Dougherty and Emerson — “The Changing Complexion of American Congregations” — is published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.
The study found that:
Read more at … https://www.baylor.edu/mediacommunications/news.php?action=story&story=199850
“(Bob) Whitesel agrees that diverse leadership is a crucial point,
‘Oftentimes, the dominant culture will have a tendency to try and run a multicultural church,’ he said. ‘We teach in this book about shared leadership. It’s almost impossible to grow a multiethnic church without having multiethnic leadership in place first. You have to include these people and their voices in the decision-making process before you make structural change’.”
From “Move to multiethnicity is not easy, but worth it” by Emily Snell, United Methodist Interpreter Magazine (n.d.), retrieved from http://www.interpretermagazine.org/topics/move-to-multiethnicity-is-not-easy-but-worth-it
by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 9/22/17.
This is my video introduction to the assignments on how to create both diversity and unity in LEAD 545: Strategic Leadership and Management. Be sure to read the syllabus and weekly instructions before watching my additional video introduction.
©️Bob Whitesel 2017, used by permission only.