Change: Four Key Points
It would not be a spiritual retreat if there was not a great aspect placed on change. In particular, Mike Hilson suggested that there are four things that we must do if we are going to change the way things are (at least in churches).
Four Necessary Things in Order to Promote Healthy Change
Obviously, there are plenty of specific things that need to take place if we are going to make changes in a particular environment. It is also likely that there are many more than four things that help to direct change. Never the less, these four things are not mind-blowing, but they are sometimes forgotten or overlooked. These were the four key points of change that were provided to us on the recent ministerial retreat that I went on.
1.) Be Honest
Honesty is something that everyone needs to exhibit in their everyday life. It makes sense that being honest with people helps to establish the reasons for change and hopefully not leave any surprises to be found later. However, the first thing that needs to happen is that the person who wants to change things, or create things, needs to be honest with themselves as well. I think the goal for change at the retreat was focused on the entire district of the Wesleyan church that I am a part of, ENYNE, but I think that these principles are important not only to change, but to leadership in general. This is especially true for the first on – Be Honest.
The first point that was made is that “you are who you are, not who you want to be.” This is a mistake that people can easily make. Sometimes we create false realities for ourselves. This could be caused by thinking in the past, or simply because we like to think of ourselves as better or different from we actually are. This does not mean that we should not have an image of who we want to be or an idea of who we want to become, but the reality is that we are who we are. The second point looks at who the culture is that we are looking to change. Different cultures will react to things differently; this is especially true for churches. Finally, the leader trying to accomplish change needs to be honest with themselves and determine “what breaks their heart.” According to Hilson, what breaks a person’s heart will determine what they see, and what they see will determine what they build. He came up with a table that looks like this:
Each person is likely going to fall more into one category than the others. Being honest with ourselves helps us to see who we are and what we should ultimately be planning to build. A pastor who feels that they are called to rescue people is going to build a church that helps people in this way. Being in any particular category is not better than being in another. The purpose is to not try to be someone who you are not. This is where being honest about ourselves helps to determine change. For myself, I believe that I fall somewhere between Support Group and Movement (but not exclusively a church, but if I had to pick one…). In the end, Mike closes this part by stating the two factors of change are eventually growth . . . and funerals. I might add that people do not have to die, but they might need to go (the “grow or go” method).
2.) Be Smart
Again, this seems fairly obvious. There is never a situation in life that we should not try to be smart for. To do anything besides being smart would be stupid. In order to give some credibility to the topic, Mike goes into more details as to what this means. Specifically he focuses on the idea of creative boredom. This means that the person has the time to think (pray), plan, think about the plan, and finally, act. By creating time to think about the process of change and your particular strategy of change you are able to make the smartest decision possible. Perhaps the most underrated part of the process is “thinking about the plan.” I know that sometimes I come up with plans that sound good to me right away and so I immediately put them into action. The plan may have had better success if I actually stopped after putting it together and thought about it. The thinking process can consist of discussing it with other people, or simply thinking about the plan itself and the consequences, as well as valid alternatives.
3.) Be Intentional
The idea behind being intentional focuses on answering three different questions. The first question is “why do we exist at all?” When observing this question people or organizations often come up with their mission statement or perhaps a purpose statement. Currently my church uses the mission statement that says “we exist to honor God by making more disciples for Jesus Christ.” This answers the question as to why we exist. The next question is “why do we do what we do?” Ideally, what we do should reflect why we exist. It is the natural next step in the process. The final question is “how do we do what we do?” This might mean the plan of action that we take to accomplish the things that we want to get done in order to fulfill the question as to why we exist. If this is starting to sound a little complicated, you should have heard some of the really long back tracking sentences that Hilson was saying. They all make sense if you take a moment to think about them.
4.) Be Consistent
This final category works with the previous one. Rather than asking the questions and coming up with answers to them, this is the process of explaining the answers to other people and keeping the answers consistent with the questions. So you are talking about what you are going to do. This leads to talking about what you are actually currently doing. Which then leads to talking about the things that you did. The final step of the process is repeating these steps over and over again.
By taking these four steps into consideration we can help to make the process of change as easy as possible. It is important to know that these steps are really only a possible template. There are other things that will work in other situations. The goal of this is to provide suggestions or guidelines to follow when making changes to an established culture. This process is rarely easy and is almost always met with confrontation and resistance. However, the important part is to have a goal in mind that needs to be accomplished and keep working towards the goal until it is met. This decreases distractions and diversions along the way and helps the process to keep moving and avoid stagnation. What kinds of methods do you use in regard to promoting change or switching directions in a culture that you are working in?