Creating change is difficult in every organization, especially churches. Pastors and church leaders often attend conferences or training sessions, hear a presentation on a new model of ministry and think, “We need to do that at my church!” They return home and immediately begin incorporating new programs into their organizations. However, this packaged-program approach is rarely successful. The reasons for failure, as we all know, generally have something to do with the organization’s context or the speed of the change process. However, an underlying problem often contributes to failed attempts at organizational change: the organizations current paradigm for ministry.
We all know that personal thoughts influence an individual’s behavior. Personal counselors know that they must change the way a person thinks if they are going to change the way that person behaves. The same is true of organizational behavior. We will never successfully change the way our organization’s operate if we don’t first change the way our organization’s are thinking. And so, when we attend conferences or have incredible creative meetings that result in new program and strategy concepts that we fully believe will take our churches to the next level, we must pause to consider the method of thought these new ideas requires and the method of thought our organization currently operates with. When the required paradigm is dissimilar from our current paradigm, we should hold off on changing our organizations’ behavior and begin by changing its way of thinking.
Simply put: We must change our paradigms before we can change our programs.