Scott Hodge


Turning The Wheel

Dec 1, 2008

Here's a recent question I received via email:

"Most of the times, established churches are set on tracks that move in one direction. No matter how much you turn the steering wheel, you cannot change the direction the church is moving. What things did you do/change to help the organization adapt to moving in a new direction quickly?"

Ok….a few thoughts I'll throw out.

First of all, the only person who can really initiate change in the direction of the organization/church is the senior leader.  The staff, the leaders, the volunteers, etc… can turn the wheel all they want, but if the senior leader is not fully committed to taking things a new direction…….then forget it! 

(And on a side note – if the senior leader is NOT committed to change, DON'T try to bring it!  All you'll do is bring chaos and division – and that is WRONG.)

But even if the senior leader is committed to change, there is still a very important question that needs to be considered before making the leap.  Here it is:

Is our organization structured for change? 

In other words, do the current bylaws, structure, governance, etc… allow us to make the necessary changes? 

The last thing a senior leader (and the church for that matter) needs during a tough season of change and transition is dissension among a pastor and the elders, deacons, or key decision makers. 

The bottom line is – if you're not structured for change, it doesn't matter how passionate or
committed you might be to it – there will always be a chance that the
wrong people could step in to infiltrate, hijack, or sabotage what God is leading you to do. 

Another thing…  The number one concern shouldn't necessarily be to get the church members or even the staff 100% unified on the transition.  The MOST IMPORTANT THING is having a strong, unified leadership team.  For us, it was my dad (the lead pastor at that time), me (his executive pastor at the time), and our elder team.  Without all of us being united and on the same page, we knew that there was no way we would be able to push through the resistance and pain of turning an 80 year old church an entirely new direction. 

Well thankfully, we were united.  And believe it or not, today our elder team is made up of the SAME guys who were on it PRIOR TO our transition. 

Now THAT'S a miracle!  :)

10 Responses to “Turning The Wheel”

  1. Great post, Scott. You couldn’t be more dead-on

  2. Mitch Bolton says:

    Thanks for that Scott. That was a key question at MinistryCOM, and you answered it very well here.

  3. Larry Snowberger says:

    Sounds oddly familiar to the business world as well. Unity; steadfast; cohesive – words that come to mind.

  4. Oh my, how I love the discussion of change (good stuff Hodge). However, there are times talking about “change” can be emotionally difficult (can any other leaders relate). Especially when your in an organiztion in which is struggling to change. Keep preachin’ it homeboy!

  5. Beth Bartlett says:

    Hey Scott
    I just saw your post on twitter…I am actually a chiropractor… in Lisle. I go to CCC and it sounds like our whole church is at Starbucks this morning!
    Anyway, I am in the office at noon today. I’ll give you my cell number 630-699-5714.
    Beth Bartlett

  6. Mrs. S says:

    I have no idea who you are….I just happened to run across your blog BUT what you explain and how you explained it describes EXACTLY what instigated my husband’s decision to leave our church that we really loved.
    (The staff, the leaders, the volunteers, etc… can turn the wheel all they want, but if the senior leader is not fully committed to taking things a new direction…….then forget it!)
    We loved the pastor, the church staff, the deacons (my hubby being one of them) BUT MY GOODNESS; it was constant frustration and sadness for us so we made the painful decision to walk away. I still don’t think the pastor/staff understood why. sigh
    Thanks for putting into words what I felt for so long but felt guilty about walking away.

  7. ROSY says:

    Hi, my name is Rosy. Just wishing you a sincere Merry Christmas and for you to check out website =)

  8. Chris says:

    Can I get a witness… ;)

  9. Eric says:

    Scott, I have a word of encouragement or suggestion for leaders who are sitting on the fence. GET OFF!!! One way or another get off the fence, you are affecting lives by not leading. I don’t mean to discount the difficulty of transitioning or talking about change, but we’re talking about eternal results and lives. FEAR and lack of FAITH are what keeps someone from getting off the fence. You’ll never please everyone and you can only depend on God. If you start trusting in certain groups or people, God will let you depend on them.
    I agree Scott, if the LEAD isn’t ready to LEAD change, don’t do it. But Jesus was the LEAD guy. Maybe a comparison is in order:
    Can you imagine Jesus going,
    “Hey!…wait!…let me down, I’ve changed my mind. No, nah, put me back up, I need to do this. Wait, wait, wait, nah, nah, nah, go ahead.”
    Maybe if we keep the eternity of those that depend on that CHANGE visually in our minds and hearts, instead of the faces of those that we see as financial security or otherwise…maybe we could do it.

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