Change Leadership

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it

Mmm… I’m not so sure about that one… you see some things are are working just perfectly as they did fifty years ago… but are they fit for purpose now?

Change Covid-19 Leadership

How many light bulbs does it take to change the Church?

You’ll have heard the one that asks, “How many Presbyterians does it take to change a light bulb?”

“Change! Change! Really, is there something wrong with the old one!”

What if we flip it and ask, “How many light bulbs does it take to change the church?” Light bulbs are a metaphor for ideas… and I’ve heard countless ideas over the years, I’ve had countless ideas, and shared them… only for them all to be kicked into the long grass (I rather like metaphors!)

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a ‘forcing function’1 – an unexpected event that accelerated change in expected ways. It has been a catalyst to some of the change that we knew was needed, but resistance to change has maintained the status quo..

Why change? Does the church need to change? Yes, not because eternal truths change, but because the context and culture around changes. We must change to keep up with and remain relevant in changing times…

Some may say, “If it ain’t broke, dont fix it”, but what if it’s working perfectly as it did a generation ago, but fails to interact with current context and practice.

How many light bulbs does it take to change the church..?

  1. See for helpful definition and explanation
Brainstorming Change Leadership Productivity

Change 4,5,6

You can only change 3 things: structures, policies and mindsets… but you have to change them all… and mindset will always be the hardest!

To effect those changes, you need to do three things… I call them steps 4, 5, 6 in honour and recognition of the change that has already happened! Change is all around and change is hard… particularly within the Church context, where despite a core belief that our God is a god of transformation, who journeys with us into unknown places, and who makes all things new, we have huge investment in tradition, heritage and ‘the way it’s aye been.’

Steps 1,2 and 3 – they’ve happened already – think of the changes that you have seen already in your experience of Church – its structures, practices and attitudes…

4: Create shared Vision, ideas purpose, image of the future, aim…

5: Engagement with People and non-human resources (funding, materials)

6: Do It! Action, Delivery…

Steve Radcliffe’s book Future Engage Deliver is an excellent and very readable book on the leadership of change based on the 3 phases he calls Future, Engage and Deliver. John Kotter’s classic change process has eight steps, variations on the theme all boil down to three areas with different levels of detail within. Every change model I have encountered is about envisioning a better future, collaborating with people to develop, understand, share the vision, and acting towards implementing it and embedding it into a new culture – a new ‘that’s how we do it here’. Kotter’s book ‘That’s not how we do it here’ in story form about how a family of meerkats adapt, is a good read!

The triangle diagram diagram above I put together early 2000s, while engaged in the Church of Scotland’s Area Team Ministry project – one of many pilots to promote collaborative ministry. The Church Without Walls report of 2001 had spoken of building the Church around the gifts of the people – and I remember thinking – but what if there is a mismatch between the gifts of the people and the envisioned future?

Which comes first the Vision, or the Gifts of the people, or the Actions? And the more I pondered… I realised that we need all three to work together and to be informed and supported by each other…

If we start with VISION we need to have the PEOPLE to bring it to life, and we need to know that ACTION is achievable. (See also SMARTER goals)

If we start with PEOPLE (gifts, talents and resources) then we must ensure that the people are on board with the shared VISION, and that the people are trained, motivated and supported towards ACTION.

If we start with ACTION then it has to be clear that it’s the right action, in line with agreed and shared VISION, and that the most suitable PEOPLE are taking forward the Action. I’m not a big fan of ‘Just Do It’ – it maybe works for Nike… but Action without Vision can be a fruitless expenditure of energy.

We need VISION, PEOPLE and ACTION – we need them all and we need to keep asking the questions, reviewing and reflecting as we journey into an even better future.

Change Leadership Pastoral Planning

2021 Church Trends

8 Church trends for 2021 with Carey Nieuwhof

Change Leadership Productivity Saw Sharpening

Saw Sharpening

‘Why don’t you pause and sharpen the saw?’

‘Can’t you see I’m too busy cutting these logs’

Take time to sharpen the saw! If you are not familiar with Dr Steven Covey’s phrase – google it – or check out the info and video at the link below … Covey talks about taking time for Body, Mind, Heart and Spirit – and sometimes it’s as simple as taking time to learn a new skill – how to get the most from an app on your pc or tablet, get the most from the tools of your trade.

What do you need to take time with to help you be a better version of you?

And a video with an overview of Covey’s 7 habits of effective people.

Advent 2021 – update

Why not take time to sharpen the saw – and get to grips with scheduling social media posts. The new Creator Studio in FaceBook will help you set up posts to be released at a particular date and time. is simply brilliant – and free for non-profits and charities. Among its many features you can set up scheduled posts. Take some time at the beginning of Advent to hone these skills…

Leadership Productivity Saw Sharpening Video

Tips for Teachers

Tips for teachers from Apple are transferable for Ministers!

General Leadership Productivity


You’ll have heard of SMART goals – but what of SMARTER ones!

S Specific

M Measurable

A Achievable

R Relevant

T Time Bound

E Evaluated

R Reviewed

SMARTER Goals: iMindMap mind map template | Biggerplate

General Leadership MS TEAMS Productivity

Before clicking SEND, think TRACKS!

Earlier today I sent an email to over 30 colleagues and had omitted to attach the attachments! Then came the flurry of phone calls and emails… “I think you forgot the attachments!” Some email apps do clever things and remind you if you have used the word “attached” but not attached any files. I’m usually quite careful and take a moment to check emails, posts, messages and tweets before zapping them out to others… Thinking about how to be more thorough – I came up with the mnemonic TRACKS to remind me to check:


Always check emails for typos. Autocorrect is very clever but sometimes gets it embarrasingly wrong – and it’s you that will be embarrassed. Take a moment to read over the email, post, tweet before you send it into the ether.


Think about who will read your post. If it’s an email use the To, CC and BCC carefully. If your email is to more than one person a good style is to use ‘To’ for the people from whom you expect action, CC is for information. BCC use carefully! Remember GDPR and dont share email addresses without permission.


Have you included all attachments referred to?Is there a better way to share the info – perhaps a link, or sharing to DROPBOX, TEAMS, SLACK or another collaboration tool?

Complete info

If you refer to a meeting on Wednesday, have you also mentioned the time and venue… think ‘complete information’ – even if it’s repeated and was in an earlier communication?

Kind of Conversation

Emails should be kind! Also think of the kind of conversation. A letter, phone call or face to face talk might be a better approach for that difficult conversation.

Subject Line

The subject line is so important. How many emails do you delete on the basis of the subject line? Simply being there is a good start as many spam filters will make assumptions about emails without a subject. It should be clear and concise and relate to the actual subject matter rather than an earlier thread! It’s okay to change the Subject line when replying to an email if the subject has changed!

Remember TRACKS

Before sending an email, post, message or tweet, think TRACKS – Typos, Recipients, Attachments, Complete, Kind, Subject – and then click SEND.

Change Ecumenism General Leadership Meetings Productivity

Co-create! Get everyone on board!

“We need a sense of ownership.” How often do we hear that – or say that.

BUT, We tend to own things that other people create!

Authorship is better – get everyone involved – all the stakeholders in from the beginning – have everyone involved in co-creating the project, plan whatever.

And when we set up an event, have it all planned and then invite neighbouring congregations and denominations don’t give yourself an ecumenical clap on the back – it’s maybe welcoming and friendly… but true ecumenical working gets together from the start!

Brainstorming Change Leadership

Gnim rots niarb

It’s a silent G – pronounced ‘nim rots ny-arb’ No it’s not Gaelic! It’s Brainstorming reversed!

Instead of brainstorming around what you want to achieve… consider what you would do to ensure failure!

It really works well – people will talk much more freely because it’s fun and light hearted… it’s actually really creative and generative.

eg: how to ensure poor engagement with Christmas services.

Don’t advertise, tell everyone the church is closed, hide the minister’s iPad, sing unfamiliar carols, no decorations in Church… you get the idea

And then when you flip the ‘how not to’ ideas you will have loads of really helpful insights…

Next Brainstorm – whether in a group or on your own – do it in reverse…. Gnim rots niarb!

Bonus tip: it’s always good to have brainstormers do some storming on their own first so they ‘hear their own ideas’ before being drowned out by louder voices!