There are three metaphors that have helped me understand the dynamics of change. However, I need to mention that most of my lessons in this area have come the hard way. How I wish I had known these things years ago! Okay, okay… even if I’d known them, I proably would not have put them into practice. Maybe you will. If you know them and don’t, you are welcome to join me in the “My bruises did not come from persecution, but from dumbness club.” 🙂
The Builder vs Remodeler. Most builders I know would rather build a house from the ground up rather than remodel. This is helpful for pastor types (and others). We have to know if we are maintenance pastors (keep things in good, working order), remodeling pastors (who are doing a “revitalization” type of ministry), or builders of new homes (i.e., church planters — but even here some of us are genuine “scratch” plants, where others are kind of a hybrid of planting and remodeling, especially if there is a significant core group). A builder who goes into a revitalization work will likely be tempted to go much too quickly with change. Remodeling is HARD on everybody—the builder and the residents, who are going to have to live through torn out walls, ripped up carpet and lots of unfinished countertops and bathrooms. It will be a mess before it gets better. So the maintenance pastor has a clear path, as do most church planters (who build from scratch). But the remodeler has to really understand the dynamics of change, which can be understood in the next two metaphors.
The Steam Locomotive vs the Rockin’ Roller Coaster. When old steam locomotives took off from the station, the conductor (or assistant) would holler, “All aboard!” But the train didn’t zip off. It waited for a while for people to board and then started slowly with a chug, chug, chug. Even as it took off, folks could hop on board at the last minute. This is in contrast to the Rockin’ Roller Coaster at MGM Studios in Orlando, which goes from 0-60 mph is two seconds! Some remodeling pastors want to get the job done… now! Sweeping changes create whiplash for many in the congregation. And we wonder why there is such “opposition” to change. The steam locomotive represents a healthy pace of change in most churches that want to move from A to B, or C and eventually Z. It gives folks time to understand the destination, why we are going there and what it will take. THen they can decide when to get on board. Yes, the train is leaving the station, but not at break neck speed.
Ocean Liners vs. Speed Boats. It takes longer to turn an ocean liner around than a speed boat. Both have a turning radius that must be taken into consideration, or else folks could be thrown out. In some instances, the ship itself could capsize. The point is that a larger church takes longer to turn than a small church, or a ministry within a church. I suppose this applies to any organization. Meaning, rather than have a 2-3 year plan, a remodeling pastor needs to have a 5-10 year plan, and maybe even a 20 year plan.
There is a LOT more to be said here. Nevetheless, I’ll let that be it for now. If you want to discuss these dynamics further, feel free to post below.