Saturday, February 16, 2013

Change Management

Would be a good definition of ministry.  Or maybe SHOULD be a major part of ministry.

I was just reading this blog.  Gary Paterson, the writer, is the current Moderator of the United Church of Canada.  THe Comprehensive Review of which he writes was set up as a result of decisions made at (although personally I believe the real decision was made before the meeting with the vote at the meeting a way of making it formal) last summer's meeting of General Council.  The panel is charged with charting a path forward for our denomination.

Churches, on the whole, do not do change well.  In fact I would say that humans as a species generally don't do change all that well.  Even when we can handle it fairly well as individuals when we get into groups and organizational structures we start to become less-changeable.  But  churches are, in my opinion, one of the most conservative (in the sense of being change-resistant, not as a political/social/economic classification) classes of organizations we have.

Which is why ministry needs to be about change management.  Because change is inevitable.  Sometimes it is drastic, sometimes it is glacial, but it is inevitable.  And some members of the congregation want to embrace some changes (but shun others).  Some want to keep change away as long as possible.  And some want to march off into the unknown ready to chance whatever happens.  Ministry means finding the balance [not keeping everyone happy (that is often not a realistic thing) but finding the way to change that matches who and how God is calling us to be in the world] and stickhandling through those inevitable changes inside and outside the church.

The challenge though is that to be faithful to who and how God is calling us to be we need to have a vision.  And I am not convinced that the church really does have a vision.  Sometimes we come close.  But too often we don't go all the way.  And that won't work.  As Gary points out in his blog, a zero in the mathematics of change (of which I have written before) ends up with a product of zero.  SO we need the vision.  AS congregations, as denominations, as communities of faith of any size we need a vision.

And just for the record, I don't count "keeping the doors open" or "survival" as a real vision.

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