Leading through change (Part 1)

Change is a scary thing.  Most people don’t like it very much, but from time to time, it’s inevitable.

My church, ChristChurch London, recently underwent a huge change – we moved venues from a lovely old theatre near Piccadilly Circus, to a modern conference centre in Blackfriars.

The move went really smoothly, and I’ve been reflecting on how the leadership went about transferring 500+ people from a familiar place to a new and very different one.  How did they engineer it so smoothly and with, as far as I’m aware, minimal trauma or rebellion?

Here’s how it played out as far as I remember it.  The time scale is probably around a year from public start to finish, although I’d imagine each stage took place in some form slightly earlier with the church leadership team.

So, here’s how to make a big change, CCL-style:

1) Raise awareness of the problem – pray for a solution
You don’t need to moan and make a big deal of the problem, just an announcement along the lines of  ‘as you may have noticed, x, y and z are happening.  We wanted to let you know we’re aware of it and are looking for a solution, and we’d appreciate your prayers for us in the process.’  This doesn’t invite whingeing from anyone in the congregation (or your employees if you’re in a business situation), and in fact, takes the sting out of any whining that is happening.

In our situation, I first heard this raised at a prayer meeting to which all the church were invited but, predictably, only the more committed 25% came.  It may have been mentioned earlier to leaders of home groups, ministries and other teams in the church in their regular meetings, too.

2) Sell a vision of the future – pray for a solution
Step one was repeated a couple of times in ever-wider groups, and gradually morphed into Step 2. In other words, the focus wasn’t allowed to remain on the problem, but as soon as the search for a solution was underway, we shifted to dreaming for the future.

As little shape was given as possible at this point, just ‘We’re looking for something that will meet our needs better.’ We were again asked for our help in praying for a solution.  The whole congregation was enabled – in fact invited – to feel part of the process, again, starting with the most committed groups and gradually working outwards.

This is getting a little long, so I’ll break off here and resume it tomorrow! Watch this space…

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