Learning from the Business Gurus

Like most of you, I’m sure; I read a fair amount of the classic as well as “new arrival” works in the field of leadership and management. If translated thoughtfully and processed with theological care, learnings from this body of work could enhance your ministry as a church planter. Consider, as an example, the eight-stage process developed in 1996 by Dr. John Kotter – then of the Harvard Business School (www.johnkotter.com) – as related to navigating a group, team, organization, or church through the challenging waters of change. Unlike many strategic leadership taxonomies, this one is best followed in sequential order.

1. Establish a sense of urgency

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  • Examine the contextual realities
  • Identify and discuss crises, potential disruptions, or major opportunities

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2. Create a guiding coalition

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  • Assemble a group with enough expertise and credibility to lead change
  • Take time to build the group into a true team

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3. Develop a vision and strategy for the change effort

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  • Focus on the “why” even more than the “how”
  • Develop primary and contingency strategies for achieving the change

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4. Communicate the change vision

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  • Use every means and occasion possible to consistently communicate the new vision and need for change
  • Motivate the guiding coalition to model behaviors expected post-change

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5. Empower broad-based action

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  • Strive to eliminate structural obstacles in your church to the change
  • Adjust or change systems that could undermine the vision for change
  • Encourage risk taking as well as “out of the box” thinking and action

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6. Generate short-term wins

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  • Plan for and even “create” visible improvements in performance or “wins”
  • Opening recognize and celebrate those “wins” no matter how small

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  1. Consolidate gains and produce more change

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  • Use growing credibility to make further changes that advance the transforming vision
  • Reinvigorate the change process with new themes, projects, and change agents

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8. Anchor the new approaches in the church culture

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  • Articulate the connections between new behaviors and ministry effectiveness
  • Proactively develop means to ensure leadership development, reproduction, and succession to minimize discontinuity

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For all our enrichment, share an example of a major take-away you have gleaned from reading in the field of leadership and management. Illustrate how it proved effective in your new church. What adjusts did you need to make to apply the principle appropriately? Keep reading. Learn on. Translate your learning into action.