A thought on Navigating local change

I’ve been thinking about navigating change at a local level in church contexts and how the idea of what can be gained or lost plays out in the process. As we enter further into the post Christian landscape and context I find myself drawn into more conversations about how the limited resources we have, are deployed. The burning platform is both a gift and curse for change. Whilst it may help people recognise the need to change it also means many realise how much has been lost. My experience is people don’t fear change they fear loss. So who presents the idea of change becomes more critical than we realise particularly if we are talking locally about a new sort of ministry to replace something already in place. For example If a declining church needs to think about the type of minister it has, perhaps with the notion of replacing a pastorally minded member of clergy who is retiring with a more pioneering missionally minded priest or even lay pioneer, (obviously I’m stereotyping and understand it’s much more complex than two camps) but like any change the notions gain or loss come to the fore. Clearly how you have the conversation is critical but we shouldn’t underestimate the impact that the WHO has, who facilitates the conversation will impact on wether people see the change as a loss or gain. When the conversation is being led by a member of clergy, arch deacon, bishop, no matter how well they hold the space, culturally everything is signalling a sense of loss. The who reminds them of what they are losing, it echos memories of what things used to be like and even if they tell a great story of what could be, the sense of loss can and will play a really significant part. When someone outside, or lay hosts the space it will be easier to position the change as gain. People can much easier see the change as making space for something new to emerge, get a different sense of perspective even if the people leading the conversation is saying pretty much the same stuff as arch deacon or bishop was.

2 thoughts on “A thought on Navigating local change

  1. In post Christendom we need churches/ congregations/ communities that are much flatter in structure, where roles are interchangeable, where employment is about need not tradition.
    E.g. in a Baptist Church you don’t need a priest/minister to conduct a marriage, just a person acting as registrar. Similarly any member of a Baptist congregation can lead communion. But more importantly its how we integrate within the community. Being the hands and feet of Christ. Let’s release the gifts of the congregations, embrace the strength of the community in cafes, pubs and shops, the provision of activities.
    God is redeeming all things!!

  2. Here in Appleby Deanery we have a virtually clean sheet of paper on which to draw something amazing. Sadly all I hear is the scratching of quills.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.