Today I met with an elder board in a church of 1800 that's been navigating transition over the last five years. They were asking the classic questions about the rate of change in the organization, like how fast is too fast, etc. As a whole, they were tired of "fighting fires" and they talked with degree of desperation about wanting to get on with the vision. 

In Church Unique, I remind leaders that challenges with change  are always vision problems first and people problems second. Most change is being driven, by new methods, new tactics, and new ideas that are actually divorced from compelling vision. If you can't appeal to shared vision for the change, then you deserve push-back from the people you are leading. 

So here's my new approach. Maybe you are putting out too many fires because you are not starting them. That's right - maybe you need to fight fire with fire. Have you considered how many fires in your church are a result of:

  • False urgency being created by people's agendas

  • An atmosphere of distraction

  • Lack of prioritization and preparation

  • Unresolved conflict that is swept under the carpet

  • Indecisiveness that propagates lingering questions

  • Bottlenecked decision-making with little empowerment

Just maybe, the fires we are constantly chasing need to be replaced by a fiery, white-hot vision planted deeply in the minds and heart of our leaders and people.

Just imagine if starting the right fire in each individual:

  • Aligned people's attention

  • Increase everyone's passion  

  • Created more capacity for fewer initiatives

  • Catalyzed better communication and collaboration

  • Clarified values for better decisiveness

  • Gave people more problem solving authority

Realistically, great leadership will always have fires to put out.  That work is never completely done. But as I watched this particular elder team, I literally thought, "These guys are fireFIGHTers, in part, because the're not fireSTARTers. They are letting other people start fires and they tend to keep there firefighting gear on. The system needs more vision. The system needs the right fires planted in more people. 

So, what do you think of this "new approach?"
Topics: Date: Mar 29, 2010 Tags: change management / church strategy / Problem Solving / vision planning