Church in Heylipol, Scotland. Photo by Paul Hart, licensed under Creative Commons.

Buckle up

Congregational change isn’t easy

I have my doubts about programs that claim to train transformational leaders. Most of them are implementing a pattern developed elsewhere, one that has to do with technique and data collection. I received one advertisement from a church consulting group that promised a transformed church. Eight churches that the group worked with attested to success. The brochure had the appeal of magic—quick and direct. But I know from experience that what was missing in the ad and in a lot of training efforts were the failures. Some churches didn't experience success. What didn't work? And why? Anne Lamott advises, "When the seasons change, buckle up." I would like to see a transformation project that says, "Let us prepare your congregation for change. Buckle up!"

I appreciate the goals of the transformational leadership movement. After all, in a world where "perpetual novelty" is creating a situation of "permanent stress" for all leaders, any help is welcome. But I have doubts about any movement that makes transformation appear easy and ignores the power of emotional forces.


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