Churches connect with me all the time asking how to bring change without (a) getting them fired and (b) to make disciple-makers. The last TruthSticks Training was held in a church that had gone through a systemic change that included orality. The pastor, Minister of Discipleship, and Bible study leaders had changed out what they had been doing to embrace orality. This kind of change is “deep change.”
John Kotter has the best reputation in the business world for “leading change.” He’s got a great book by that name, too. Kotter has eight steps to change that are widely recognized as successful. If your church or ministry needs change to actively making disciple-makers, consider these steps:
- Is it urgent yet? Paint a picture for your church or small group that explains why making disciple-makers is so urgent. Step back and be realistic about what is not happening; what you’re missing.
- What leaders will implement a churchwide heartcry for evangelizing? Kotter calls this a “guiding coalition” who has the authority – and guts – to do the right thing to make needed changes.
- What is your vision for making disciple-makers as active witnesses? Let everyone know the opportunities. It helps to work backwards from a preferred future to identify strategies, resources, and people needed to get going. That’s why I hear from folks all the time. Mentoring, coaching, and just “checking in” are all helpful.
- How will you communicate your vision? Meet one-on-one and then with groups. Listen. Be bold! And never stop making disciple-makers.
- Who needs to be empowered to act? Typically the most highly-relational people do best leading a small group in a warm, welcoming manner. This is also true for evangelism and church planting.
- Are you celebrating “wins” along the way? How is the Lord bringing change? Brag on what God is doing!
- What tweaks need to be made to keep on track? Change is good if it keeps moving forward. Learn from mistakes and build upon them. Keep training and raising up leaders who get it.
- What structures and systems need to be changed to keep the movement going? Jesus said not to put new wine into old wineskins. Keep making adjustments as needed.
Not all change works. We’re after deep, systemic change that aligns with God’s way and His will.
Andy Stanley, an Atlanta pastor, once led a workshop on “system dynamics” at Exponential, an annual conclave for church planting. He said, “The chatter in the hall trumps the vision statement on the wall.” Do people actually trust what’s going on and reinforce it with their behaviors? What impedes or accelerates progress?
Change for change’s sake just swaps one set of problems for another. However, when we align with the Holy Spirit’s leadership and do the will of God, then making disciple-makers becomes valuable, desired, and fruitful in a way that exalts the name of Jesus.