One of the most important and yet difficult aspects of leadership is guiding an organization through change. I sometimes joke with my church, “We don’t mind change as long as it’s the same kind of change we have always had.” The truth is that some change is required for an organization, including a church, to survive.
The definitive book on this subject is Leading Change by John Kotter. This book is not written from a Christian perspective and it does not deal specifically with churches. All of the examples in the book are from the business world. And yet pastors and other church leaders have found that the principles that Kotter presents are effective in guiding churches through change.
Kotter offers the following eight stage process for creating major change:
- Establishing a sense of urgency
- Creating the guiding coalition
- Developing a vision and strategy
- Communicating the change vision
- Empowering broad-based action
- Generating short-term wins
- Consolidating gains and producing more change
- Anchoring new approaches in the culture
Some might ask if it is appropriate for churches to borrow leadership principles from the business world. When I look at the New Testament, I see Jesus and Paul borrowing from “non-religious” occupations to illustrate spiritual truths. There is no real divide between sacred and secular, that is a modern concept. In addition, I believe all truth is God’s truth. If these principles are true, they are not true only for the business world.
If you are a pastor or church leader, I highly recommend you read John Kotter’s Leading Change.