I chose simple change as the title to my blog post this week because it seems to me like an impossibility within the church. The problem I am working on for my dissertation is how do you change the culture of a church from being inward focused and me centered to a focus on what really matters, making a difference in the community and world for Jesus. I have been a part of several churches that have tried in vain to change the culture of an established church. I have been a part of church plants where the goal was a culture of outreach. In both circumstances there was excitement about the possibilities to come. In the established churches the excitement has turned into push back, which in turn has turned into anger and resentment, leading to one of two things. The release of the pastor who was trying to bring about the changes, or, the quite resignation to the idea that the change would not work and lets just try to clean up the mess and do things the way we have always done them. On the flip side, the church plants have thrived in the idea of new ways of doing things, but inevitably, systems began to come into play, and they began to look like all the other churches I have been involved with, mainly because it is easier.
In Jennifer Berger and Keith Johnston’s book, Simple Habits For Complex Times: Powerful Practices for Leaders, I found a kindred spirit, change within an organization is not easy, it comes with painful processes if not managed correctly. In the first chapter, after the opening drama there is a quote that hits at the heart of the issue of change today. “The dogmas of the quite past are inadequate for the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew”
Berger and Johnston say that three habits are important to change, they are habits of the mind. They are:
- Asking different questions (instead of having the answers),
- Taking multiple perspectives (even when we disagree), and
- Seeing systems (including emergence). (also found on page 19 of text)
I started looking for other options that our authors this week have to talk about their leadership ideas and found their YouTube channel. The following video gives an overview of their three habits of mind.
They have multiple videos but this gives you an idea of their work.
So how does one take these ideas and put them into work in a church. That is the real question for me. I am intrigued by the discussion on “searching the system to find out the inclinations”  They argue that we need to trace patterns of whatever systems make up your company, or in my case my church, and figure out, if left alone what will they do. They instruct you to look for the most obvious causes to rule them out. Most of the time these are the things we have tried before with little to no success. That is why we must find new ways. In many of the books that I have read on changing the culture of a church the answer is always the same, do not be afraid to make some people mad and make the changes. This rarely if ever works for the simple reason, the people of the church have probably been there much longer than you, and will be there long after you have moved on. They have had pastors come in and say were making these sweeping changes, they try, they fail, get discouraged and move on. The average tenure of a pastor over the last 20 years in the Southern Baptist denomination has been a little over five years.  The first 2-3 years are spent trying to get the lay of the land, they next try to make the changes, fail to do so, sometimes spectacularly, and move on.
One thing that can be put to use in any organization is the idea that is safe to fail. What this means is that if we try something, and it fails, then it is not catastrophic. No one needs to be fired, we just chalk it up as a learning experience and go to the next option. I think if this was put into place in churches, it is ok if something we try does not work, then the fear of being fired for trying something new would be removed and people could be more bold in trying to reach people with the gospel.
Think about no repercussions for a program not being the best thing ever. Pastors might just leap into the unknown and do something great for God. The apostles had no fear of failure so they did powerful things. Paul did not care if one group paid no attention or even attacked him. He just tried another approach. Think if the church today could grab a hold of this idea. Great things might happen.
 Berger, Jennifer Garvey, and Keith Johnston. Simple Habits For Complex Times: Powerful Practices for Leaders. Stanford: Stanford Business Books, 2016. 7.
Volkmann, Russ. Integral Leadership Review. July 29, 2015. Accessed March 01, 2019. http://integralleadershipreview.com/13366-819-jennifer-garvey-berger-and-keith-johnston-simple-habits-for-complex-times-powerful-practices-for-leaders/.
 Berger, Jennifer Garvey, and Keith Johnston. Simple Habits For Complex Times: Powerful Practices for Leaders. Stanford: Stanford Business Books, 2016. 49.
 Rainer, Thom. “Six Reasons Pastoral Tenure May Be Increasing.” ThomRainer.com. June 19, 2017. Accessed March 01, 2019. https://thomrainer.com/2017/03/six-reasons-pastoral-tenure-may-be-increasing/.
 Berger, Jennifer Garvey, and Keith Johnston. Simple Habits For Complex Times: Powerful Practices for Leaders. Stanford: Stanford Business Books, 2016. 54.