Shifting and changing culture is a difficult thing. While many may be on board with the need for a shift in culture, it is difficult to enact that change. There are three common ways in which change is often implemented.
Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it will not help you change the culture of your church. What works at another church or diocese, will not necessarily work in your context. There are many reasons for this, but most notably the source of your imitation has invested greatly into their venture, raised up the right team, down missional listening and are now acting accordingly. Often we try to replicate what others have done, rather then looking for what God is asking us to do in our context. The desire to have a ready made program parachuted in is a strong motivation. The hope is for quick results, little work and easy decisions. If it is too good to be true, often it is.
Importation, another means of implementing change, is the dreaded consultant. Many churches will hire a consultant to help them move forward. This has a tendency to work in individual churches on a small scale where the individual congregation has already bought into the need for change, but often runs into problems on Diocesan levels were cynicism is aimed at the higher ups and buy in is low. It also can lead people to placing all expectations on one person, who will be the saviour. And when things naturally do not work out because one person alone cannot save the world, the horizontal church responds that we tried and change is not possible, status quo remains. Unfortunately this also creates a scapegoat and does little to build a team that will champion the need for change.
Revolutions meanwhile are often successful, but they require a crisis situation. Through crisis the need for change is fostered when the church is willing to look for new leadership, new vision, new methods, new practices, new rewards, new principles, a new approach to hiring and formation, and a new way to promote those within the organization. This type of change is effective for it breaks with traditions, the same policy traditions that have created the crisis in the first place. After all, doing the same things and expecting a different results is not just a logically fallacy, it is also Einstein’s definition of insanity.
To help enact revolution, a collaborative team of leaders needs to be brought together. Power needs to be decentralized so that decisions can happen quickly and efficiently and for team members to have some skin the game. The buck doesn’t stop at the bishop, but rather at the team who are responsible to each other and also the organization, the church.
In this manner, the structure of the organization shifts from vertical to horizontal. More individuals are giving responsibility for the enacting of the vision, mission and purposes. The delegation of decision making is not an abdicating of responsibility of the leader (the bishop), but rather is putting individuals in positions to succeed and to advance the vision of the church.
Revolutions require new leaders in many ways. They promote from the bottom up. Traditional paths to the operational power are replaced by assigning task to the people best suited for the responsibility, regardless of tenure, age or experience.
All of this sounds great, but operational integrity must be maintained throughout and adherence to the execution of the intent of the church must inform all actions of the organization. Being focused, and making sure all decisions flow into the agreed upon vision, mission and purpose is simply a must. It is easy to go off the rails, to get distracted and for individuals to have pet projects or concerns. But in a crisis, all need to pull together, in the same direction as a team.
This building of a collaborative team to help enact a revolution and to carry forward the vision, the mission and the purposes of the church flows from the principle that there can be no expertise without collaboration (1 Corinthians 12:12-27) and success depends on the collaboration of experts.