Leading Change

by Pastor David Hansen, LEAD Director of Communication and Innovation

LEAD is committed to congregations and leaders who are ready for the future God is calling the church into – and for the transformation that will lead us there.

There is no denying it – we live in an era of change. Change in our culture, change in our neighborhoods, and change in our ministries.

Wherever we serve – whether a rural congregation, an urban campus ministry, a suburban redevelopment – we are leading change.

Many of LEAD’s resources are designed to help congregations and ministries walk through that change – to remember where they came from, while gaining a vision for what God is leading them toward. And as we do this work, we are finding that many leaders have not been trained or equipped for leading change.

Here are a few of the most helpful reminders we have found for those who are leading change.

1) Leading Change Requires Support

In ministry, it can sometimes feel like we are in this all by ourselves. Each pastor an island, doing their ministry separate from those down the street. But there is no Lone Ranger ministry in this era of change.

We have to relearn the habits of collegiality – reaching out to our neighbors of various denominations and traditions, sharing experiences, and learning from one another. As leaders, we also need to model the healthy practices of self-care: making use of our own counselors, spiritual directors, and mentors, so that we can bring our best selves to our ministry.

2) Leading Change Requires Growth

One of my favorite stories about LEAD comes from our very first year. LEAD’s Executive Director, Peggy Hahn, went on listening sessions across our region talking with pastors and lay leaders. Afterward, she shared that she could ask one question – just ONE – and get a good feel for the vitality of that ministry.

The question? “What are you reading?

That’s all. “What are you reading?” The answer didn’t matter. If the leader was reading ANYTHING – tending to their spiritual and intellectual growth – that was enough. In our ministry with LEAD, we have discovered that congregations that are growing have leaders who are growing.

3) Leading Change Requires Discomfort

Change isn’t easy. It requires us to admit that we could be doing things differently, that maybe there is a better way. Change can mean trying things we’ve never tried before, taking risks, and being vulnerable.

There is a certain amount of discomfort inherent in healthy change. Not too much – or it will all fall apart – but just enough. (In The Practice of Adaptive Leadership, Ronald Heifetz calls this “productive equilibrium.”)

This discomfort is not just for the congregation – it affects the leaders, too. And so, we return to our center and our strength. Prayer. Worship. Scripture. Riding the waves of changing ministry means we have to equip ourselves with the life vest of a full and healthy spiritual life.

Your gift (in any amount) will help us build a community of leaders with the resources and support they need to transform the church, especially leaders in crisis, new leaders in the church, and those who are leading congregational change.

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