time for change sign with led light

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.