Change seems to be one of the few constants in today’s world. Change comes whether we welcome it—or attempt to avoid or stop it.

How does change impact congregations? Gil Rendle, an Alban Institute senior consultant, has written: “The driving assumption about congregations today is that they each have a unique call to ministry, a call very much determined by the congregation’s location and ministry with a specific and unique group of individuals, who have specific and unique needs and interests within the greater framework of the faith tradition. Ministry is no longer a matter of doing what we know how to do best. Nor is it adequate for congregations to continue to do what they did last year. The time and the environment continue to change at a pace that requires us constantly to evaluate, to learn anew what our purpose of ministry is, and continually to reinvent the congregation to meet the needs that face us. We need to learn more at every turn before discerning the appropriate next step to take.” (Leading Change in the Congregation: Spiritual and Organizational Tools for Leaders, Alban Institute, p. 6)

Healthy and effective leadership is needed if change is to happen well within congregational settings. In his book Leading in a Culture of Change, Michael Fullan identifies five interrelated capacities that leaders need—moral purpose; understanding change; relationship building; knowledge creation and sharing; and coherence making. Leaders also need to be aware of and shepherd the stages of a change process. In Leading Change, John P. Kotter describes those stages as establishing a sense of urgency; creating a “guiding coalition”; developing a vision and strategy; communicating the “change vision”; empowering employees for broad-based action; generating “short-term wins”; consolidating gains and producing more change; and anchoring new approaches in the “culture.”


Featured Resource

AL186_SMLeading Change in the Congregation: Spiritual & Organizational Tools for Leaders by Gilbert R. Rendle

Many books have been written about leadership and change, but until now none has focused on the kind of change that tears at a community’s very fabric. Alban Senior Consultant Gil Rendle provides a respectful context for understanding change, especially the experiences and resistances that people feel.