An old, established, downtown church finds its membership dwindling, but meets various sources of resistance to change from within its existing membership.
A suburban congregation experiences an influx of twenty- and thirty-something year-old couples with children moving into its neighborhood and attending the church. A consistent chant begins that they desire a more upbeat, contemporary style of music and worship.
A vocal group within the larger-than-average size rural congregation demands that the church do more than simply keep the building lights on with the same old activities and programs that have been pursued for decades.
In each of these scenarios, the congregation realizes that significant change is needed in order for the church to sustain its mission and carry on its work. But, what are the mechanics which can bring about change that simultaneously embrace the church’s distinct identity and honestly responds to the challenges of the changing community?
In Leading Congregational Change, Jim Herrington, Mike Bonem, and James H. Furr provide pastors, staffs and lay-leaders with solid biblical basics and useful practical instructions regarding the process which can result in fruitful congregational change. In fact, the reader will quickly learn that the components for change outlined in this book emerged from actual churches the authors assisted to bring about change in their congregations.
Leading Congregational Change envisions change as a congregational transformation model is put into place within the church. The model is composed of an eight-stage change cycle with an accompanying four-dimensional learning disciplines process. These two components for change are empowered by the church’s deliberate pursuit of renewed spiritual and relational vitality with God and among the congregation’s membership.
The eight-stage change cycle is composed of the organizational mechanics for change: personal preparation, creating urgency, establishing a vision team, discerning vision and developing vision paths, communicating the vision, empowering change leaders, implementing the vision and reinforcing momentum through alignment.
The four-dimensional learning disciplines process adds a human touch to any endeavor for change where mechanics actually engage the people of the congregation. Through new mental models, team learning, systems thinking and creative tension management, pastor, staff, and laity embark upon and sustain the transformational journey.
The strength of the book is found in its format, where each element of the congregational transformation model is further analyzed separate chapters. This feature of the volume makes it easy for change leaders to consult it for guidance.
The authors of Leading Congregational Change realize that changing a church can be a dangerous endeavor. As the transformational model is examined, helpful insights and timely warnings are readily found. Each reader will find a quote or an observation that connects with his or her actual situation. In time the volume will become a well-worn handbook, frequently consulted by the church’s leadership.
Leading Congregational Change is accompanied by a workbook which provides excellent material for the church’s change team as it enters the transformational process. Each chapter has biblical references for study, worksheets to assist congregational analysis, and bibliography for further exploration of the topic.
Few volumes dealing with church change address the transformation process as comprehensively and directly as Leading Congregational Change and its companion workbook
Ron Wilson is pastor at First Baptist Church in Hartselle, Ala.