Leading Transition and Change in the Church
Part of the LifeandLeadership.com resources for church leaders on Transition and Change in the Church.
- Change Process, Strategy
- Leading Transition, the “The Human Side” and Internal Adjustments of Change
- Other Helpful Works on Change and Transition
- Related Ministry Resources
Providing leadership for change in the church certainly involves more than setting a good process in motion. Other dynamics are addressed in the ministry resources on Concepts and Theories for Church Change and Creating Receptiveness and Overcoming Resistance to Change in the Church. Yet, provided all other aspects are given due attention, there is no substitute for good process. The old saying, “Trust the process,” is certainly true with regard to church change.
The following ministry resources present refined processes for dealing with change, the actual alteration, and transition, the inner reorientation persons make in adjusting to change. These are followed by a list of several good supplemental volumes on the subject.
Remember to see the list at the bottom for ministry resources in related areas.
Process and Strategy for Change in the Church
- Jim Herrington, Mike Bonnem, and James H. Furr, Leading Congregational Change: A Practical Guide for the Transformational Journey — Draws upon John Kotter by suggesting an eight-stage change process, and Peter Senge and others to designate four dynamic learning disciplines that must come along the process for congregations to execute change successfully.
- John P. Kotter, Leading Change — Discusses what is regarded as the standard eight-stage process for major change.
- Mary K. Sellon, Daniel P. Smith, and Gail F. Grossman, Redeveloping the Congregation: A How To For Lasting Change — An excellent application of Kotter’s eight-stage process to congregational life.
- Merton Strommen, The Innovative Church: Seven Steps to Positive Change in Your Congregation — An excellent seven-step change process based on five indicators of an organization’s readiness to change. Good material on the real issues church leaders deal with in facilitating change.
Leading Transition, the “Human Side” and Internal Adjustments of Church Change
- William Bridges, Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change, 2nd Edition — The standard text in distinguishing change, the actual alteration of circumstances, and transition, the inner reorientation persons must make in adjusting to change.
- Chip Heath, Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard – Excellent for troubleshooting why change is not working and how to get change efforts on track. Designed for change agents who have very little leverage (i.e. positional authority) to accomplish it, e.g. church leaders. Tons of examples and clear directions expressed in a simple three-part rubric.
- Kenneth J. McFayden, Strategic Leadership for a Change: Facing Our Losses, Finding Our Future – Equips church leaders to understand the nature of a church’s attachment to the status quo, how the leader can help the church grieve the losses entailed in a change, how to help them avoid anxious reattachment, and to “attach anew” to a vision they may never have experienced.
- David N. Mosser, Transitions: Leading Churches Through Change – A rich anthology of seasoned wisdom on how preachers may be a resource for their congregations during times of confusing change, conflict, and life crises.
- Mary Ann Salerno and Lillie Brock, The Change Cycle: How People Can Survive and Thrive in Organizational Change – A very insightful model of six stages people and organizations experience during a change, as well as the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors associated with each stage of change.
- Craig A. Satterlee, When God Speaks Through Change: Preaching in Times of Congregational Transition (Vital Worship, Healthy Congregations) – Very insightful on the role of worship, especially preaching, in times of change, transition, conflict, and crisis.
- Beverly A. Thompson and George B. Thompson, Jr., Grace for the Journey: Practices and Possibilities for In-Between Times – Equips ministers and churches to navigate periods of uncertainty inherent in change and transition.
Other Works on Change and Transition
- Scott Belsky, Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality – Distills 6 years of research on how creative individuals and teams translate their dreams into reality. Provides a systematic, step-by-step, repeatable process.
- Dale Galloway and Warren Bird, Innovative Transitions: How Change Can Take Your Church to the Next Level– Tells the stories of several churches that have navigated difficult, complex changes.
- William Chris Hobgood, Welcoming Resistance – Develops the central thesis that some forms of resistance can be a sign of vital, high quality, and faithful life in a congregation.
- Michael Jinkins and Deborah Bradshaw Jinkins, Power and Change in Parish Ministry: Reflections on the Cure of Souls — Helps ministers assess just how much power (ability to influence outcomes) or influence they have within the congregation, and how to interact with other key influencers in change situations.
- Spencer Johnson and Kenneth Blanchard, Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and Life — A humorous tale that although not a primary source on facilitating congregational change may provide an excellent image for communicating about change and equipping others to let go of the old and adjust to the new realities.
- Bill Kemp, The Church Transition Workbook: Getting Your Church in Gear – A comprehensive guide equipping the entire congregation to work together on renewal in ways that not only benefit the congregation but also rebuild trust in ministerial leadership.
- Aubrey Malphurs, Pouring New Wine into Old Wineskins: How to Change Your Church Without Destroying It — Good profiles that help leaders assess their capacity as change agents. Also summarizes Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation and describes conditions that make the church more receptive to change.
- Alan Nelson and Gene Appel, How to Change Your Church Without Killing It — Draws upon research and experience to help leaders manage change and transition, from pre-work to the point in which the new realities are anchored into congregational life. A good general reference for congregational change.
- Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler, Influencer: The Power to Change Anything – A very popular text on how to motivate others to change through optimizing six sources of influence.
- Peter M. Senge, C. Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, Betty Sue Flowers, Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future —Lays out a three-step learning process to tap into the collective emotional field, or “the intelligence of the heart.” This intelligence, they contend, is the only way to “illuminate the blind spot” and craft futures yet unimagined.
- Scott Wilson, Steering Through Chaos: Mapping Clear Direction for Your Church in the Midst of Transition and Change — A strong pastor-lead, vision-driven model that discusses how to conceive, craft, and communicate a godly and authentic vision to bring a congregation through a transition.
Related Ministry Resources
Ministry Resources on Transition and Change in the Church:
- Transition and Change in the Church, Intro
- Concepts and Theories for Change in the Church
- Overcoming Resistance and Creating Receptiveness for Change in the Church
Other Resources for Church Leaders:
- Church Administration
- Church Leadership and Renewal
- Conflict in the Church
- Generational Issues
- Christian Leadership
- Ministry Transitons, Interim
- Missional Church
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