Eight Step Process for Leading Change

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The early church needed an organizational change in order to deal with issues around feeding widows. They made the changes successfully, and Acts 6:7 indicates the happy results:

So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

What changes would you lead your church or organization to make if you could? What would be the first steps or stages? What challenges do you think you would face if you launched a major change initiative?

I ask these questions because it appears to me that many proposed changes introduced by pastors to their churches ultimately fail or even get shot down before they ever get started. Would you agree or disagree with that premise?

Surely, if that is the case, pastors must often feel discouraged about leading change; perhaps even a little burned out on even trying. Again, though, I would be curious as to whether you also find this to be true.

Finally, I wonder if you believe your education and background have well-prepared you to skillfully and effectively lead change initiatives.

If not, I would like to recommend Harvard Professor Dr. John Kotter’s book, The Heart of Change: Real Life Stories of How People Change Their Organizations which lays out an eight step process for leading change. It’s not a new book but Kotter’s model has come to be considered one of the very best.

So, you may find it useful.

In it, he lays out an eight step process for leading change: 

  1. Create a sense of urgency around the need for change.
  2. Form a powerful coalition of change leaders throughout your organization.
  3. Create an overall vision for the future that people can easily grasp.
  4. Embed your vision within everything you to do.
  5. Check for barriers and remove obstacles in the way of implementing change.
  6. Create short-term targets (“quick wins”) to give your organization an early taste of victory.
  7. Look for opportunities to build on quick wins and identify areas of improvement.
  8. Make change an integral part of organizational culture

I wonder if you find those eight steps thought-provoking, as I do. Do you think you could apply them in your ministry? Do you see any scriptural support or censure against any of those steps?

In any case, if you’re looking to lead change and want a great book on the subject, definitely check it out Kotter's The Heart of Change. It's available on Amazon and elsewhere.   Oh, and by the way, if you read it, you will see the connection between emotional intelligence and change leadership early into the book!