Concepts and Theories for Change in the Church
Part of the LifeandLeaderhip.com resources for church leaders on Transition and Change in the Church.
The following ministry resources provide solid overviews of the concepts, processes, and skills for facilitating change in the church. Not all resources are church-related, but translate well into ministry situations. Although they present strategies for leading change and transition, their strength is concepts. The ministry resources are listed in alphabetical order, as each is valuable for its unique contribution to the subject.
Remember to see the list at the bottom for ministry resources in related areas such as Overcoming Resistance and Creating Readiness to Church Change, and Leading Transition and Change in the Church (Strategies).
- Lynn Anderson, Navigating the Winds of Change: How to Manage Change in the Church — Of special value is Section Five: The Art of Change Management, which summarizes and applies best practices for congregational change.
- Michael Armour and Don Browning, Systems-Sensitive Leadership: Empowering Diversity Without Polarizing the Church — Applies the Gravesian Theory of Intrapersonal Systems, which suggests that as we encounter increasing degrees of complexity, it requires adjustments to our “system” of thinking. Explains why some people want change and some do not, and how churches with members from competing systems can thrive as diverse communities.
- Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference — Seeks to define when an explosive social change actually becomes a trend. He looks at informal (e.g. word of mouth) and formal mechanisms that make a difference. Concludes that seemingly insignificant exchanges in the social arena may actually be more powerful than large scale marketing strategies.
- George G. Hunter, III, The Apostolic Congregation: Church Growth Reconceived for a New Generation — Not a book on change per se, but the last chapter is a good discussion on relevant change theory.
- Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey, Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization (Harvard Leadership for the Common Good Series)— Draws on the implications of neuroscience showing a correlation between change receptivity and intentional cognitive development, self-transformation, and embrace of complexity. Discusses how to overcome immunity to change in organizations, individuals, and teams.
- David A. Nadler, Robert B. Shaw, A. Elise Walton and Associates, Discontinuous Change: Leading Organizational Transformation— A primary source of theory found in the literature on discontinuous change, such as the Center for Parish Development’s booklet, “Classes of Changes.” The key point is that the approach to change differs significantly depending on the type of change.
- Lyle Schaller, Strategies for Change — A distillation of change wisdom from the highly regarded dean of church consultants.
- Peter L. Steinke, A Door Set Open: Grounding Change in Mission and Hope— Not a how-too book, but a theoretical reflection on the importance of mission and hope as a spiritual and theological resource in times of change.
Related Ministry Resources
Other Ministry Resources on Transition and Change in the Church:
- Transition and Change in the Church, Intro
- Creating Receptiveness and Overcoming Resistance to Change in the Church
- Leading Transition and Change in the Church
Other Ministry Resources for Church Leaders:
- Church Administration
- Church Leadership and Renewal
- Christian Leadership for Conflict in Church
- Generational Issues
- Christian Leadership
- Ministry Transitons, Interim
- Missional Church
See Resources on Over 100 Areas of Christian Ministry: