Strategic Transformation 2

In our last “Blog,” I spoke about the differences between “declining” and “thriving” congregations and the need for “strategic transformation.” We ended with the nine obstacles that get in the way of transformation within churches. Today I want to share with you the “keys” of transformation and a little bit about the “process.”

Three Keys of Transformation
As was stated last week, “transformation” is more than mere “change.” Break two eggs and put them in a bowl is “change” (from inside the shell to outside); stir up the egg whites and yokes, pour them into a frying pan, add seasonings and other ingredients, and cook them up – that’s “transformation.” For strategic transformation to occur in a congregation, there are three “keys” needed:

1. LEVERAGE. Finding the one thing that if it is done everything else will be easier. Often this is also the quickest way to make a difference.
2. FOCUS. This is the ability to concentrate on the leverage point without becoming distracted by everyday issues (contemplative response as opposed to immediate needs).
3. ALIGNMENT. You reach this point when all the paid and unpaid staff as well as the church is geared toward the success of the leverage point.

The Classic View of Transformation
When people talk about “transformation,” there is a commonality of how most feel such change should be implemented:
a. Unfreeze the Status Quo. Elements in this stage are dissatisfaction, fear, anger, a greater vision. There is a direct correlation between the amount of dissatisfaction and the amount of change people are willing to endure. Frustration derives from the intense desire to “change,” but no one’s sure what (or who) needs to change.
b. Transition. At this stage people must not only do things differently, they must also think differently and see reality differently if the transition is to last. People must begin to “think outside of the box.”
c. Refreeze. Whatever changes are made, are now “institutionalized,” that is, they become the new normal. The problem is that with such “refreezing,” the system is once again frozen until the level of dissatisfaction , fear, and anger once again demand a new change, resulting in an un-ending cycle of dissatisfaction that leads to transition that leads  to refreezing the system that inevitability returns the system to dissatisfaction…repeat.




Developing the “Strategic Strategy” for Transformation
One of the “changes” that needs to occur is the “cultural change” of the way a congregation approaches its mission and ministry. Some refer to this as a “change of paradigm.”

Transformational thinking is based on three assumptions:

1. Most of what you have learned no longer works. Working harder and smarter at what you have been doing for years will cause the church/denomination to decline faster.
2. Things most people think are impossible are possible. God took a bunch of nothing, said “Let there be…” and it was. If we are doing what God has called, gathered, enlightened and sanctified us to do, don’t you think He’s going to make it happen?
3. We live in a pre-Christian mission field, similar to that of the Apostolic Church of the First Century AD. We need to become “backyard missionaries,” that is, we need to do what missionaries do: learn a new language, learn a new culture, and learn a new technology.

In this new paradigm, we understand that things are not the way things may have historically been. “We haven’t done it that way before,” simply cannot be the dictum by which the church operates. This is going to be painful; but it is truly necessary. Churches are often tied to policies and procedures that once worked, but are no longer viable – yet, they “keep on keeping on” what they’ve done because they have not considered anything different.  Next time, I will share with you a little on Adaptive Challenges and their role in Strategic Transformation.

For now, please consider:
1) What is something that we need to “transform” for the sake of our mission and ministry? What needs to happen first: challenge the change or challenge the culture? Why?
2) What are the differences between where we are today versus where we were twenty years ago? How has our “world” changed? How have people changed?
3) At the end of the day, what is the God-honoring outcome we are seeking in the mission and ministries that we are a part of? Are they specifically God-honoring, or just conscience assuaging?