Archives For How To Change Things

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How To Change America

May 10, 2013 — 2 Comments

Second Mile Logo without nameA woman bought a piece of needlework at a craft fair. The piece read, “Prayer Changes Things.” Proud of the handiwork she hung it above the fireplace in their living room. A few days later she discovered the prized piece missing. When questioned, her husband admitted taking the needlework down. “Don’t you believe in prayer? she inquired. “Yes, I do,” the husband responded. “I believe in prayer. I believe it changes things. But I don’t like change so I took it down.” 

A lot of people don’t like change. I suppose it really is human nature to be uncomfortable with change, especially when it is not in our control. People don’t like change and the change to which we tend to be most resistant is change in us. As a pastor and observer of people I’ve seen people choose to lose their job, destroy their marriage, or go to jail rather than change themselves.  

Change is often extremely difficult. Some people are more resistant to change than others. I’ve even known people who would rather die than change. You probably know someone who has been told by their doctor they need to change their diet are they will die prematurely, and yet they fail to change. Change is difficult but there is good news. 

Change is possible. Do you recall the story of the Apostle Paul? He had been a ferocious persecutor of the early church. However, after his encounter with the risen Christ he became the greatest human influence on Christianity. Most of us have known someone who has experienced radical change in their life. What happens to bring about  truly transformational change in our lives. 

You have to want to change. Members of Alcoholics Anonymous insists that people don’t change until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change. The first of the twelve steps is “We admitted we were powerless over our addiction–that our lives had become unmanageable.” 

We can change if we have a vision of something better. There is a wonderful scene in the Karate Kid movie where Daniel is visiting Mr. Miyagi who is trimming a bonsai tree. Miyagi encourages Daniel to work on the delicate little tree. Daniel, however, is reluctant. He doesn’t have a clue about how to even start trimming the tree. Mr. Miyagi encourages Daniel to close his eyes and envision what he wants the tree to look like. After Daniel has a picture of the trimmed tree in his mind, Mr. Miyagi instructs him to open his eyes and go to work. But then, Daniel asked, “How do I know my vision is correct?” Mr. Miyagi replies, “If the picture comes from your heart, then it must be right. Just trust your picture.” 

If we need to make some changes in our lives we should start with a clear vision of those needed changes. But how do we know the vision is right? How about this? Picture in your mind what Jesus looks like. Of course, I don’t mean his physical appearance. I’m talking about his compassion, his patience, his humility, his gentleness, his empathy and understanding. I’m talking about his willingness to serve and even to die for others. We can change if we really want to, if we have a clear vision of who we want to become. But one more thing. 

God can change us if we are willing to surrender our will to God. The Apostle Paul had a life-changing encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus. From that day on Jesus was the Lord and Master of Paul’s life. He went where Jesus called him to go and did whatever he was called to do, often at great personal sacrifice.  

I read once that when Earl Weaver was manager of the Baltimore Orioles he would charge at umpires shouting, “Are you gonna get any better, or is this it?” Perhaps God is asking you the same question. Are you gonna allow God to transform your life, or is this it? You can change if you really want to. If you are willing to focus your vision on Jesus. If you are willing to allow Him to become the Lord and Master of  your life. 

So, what’s all of this got to do with changing America. I suppose you are probably on to me by now. It’s really quite simple. America won’t be changed by electing a different president or members of Congress or having newly appointed judges on the Supreme Court. America will be changed when you and I change. It will be changed, not when political parties change, but when hearts are transformed and men and women across this great land put on the mind of Christ, learning to love our neighbor, like the example set by the man from Galilee.  

QUESTION: What changes do you need to make in your life? Are you willing to trust God enough to surrender your will to His in order to be transformed?   

How To Change The World!

March 11, 2013 — 1 Comment

Logo Transparent jpeg without wordsWhile living in London during the summer of 2005 I spent some time exploring Westminster Abby. There is a tomb of an Anglican Bishop in the Abbey that reads:

“When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world.

As I grew older and wiser I discovered the world would not change –
So I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country, but it too seemed immovable.

As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.

And now I realize as I lie on my deathbed, if I had only Continue Reading…

Making Change Stick

February 15, 2013 — 1 Comment

Logo Transparent jpeg without words(This is the fifth and final post in a series: How To Change an Organization and Create a New Culture.)

Making significant changes in an organization, corporation, or church is tricky; making those changes stick is even more difficult. Don’t forget that structural, systemic, and cultural change in any organization is a process and not an event. In most instances it takes years to make significant changes that won’t revert at the first opportunity.

In this post I will make several suggestions that should help you negotiate your way through the mine field as you institutionalize the changes you have implemented.

1. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate ad infinitum. Many leaders make the mistake of thinking that once the change is implemented, significant communication is no longer needed. Don’t ever think that everyone knows about and understands the change you have put into action. Use as many channels as possible to tell as much as possible to as many as possible, as often as possible. Keep telling the story. Keep explaining why the change was necessary; keep explaining exactly what is being done, who will do it, and what the expected results will be. Remember that people are fearful of the unknown. Communication is not something you do early on and then you move on to other things.

2. Reward those who support the change. Use your creativity to do this. Start with praise and affirmation.

3. Provide regular opportunities to get on board. For example, Continue Reading…

Logo Transparent jpeg without words(This is the fourth post in a series: How To Change an Organization and Create a New Culture.)

The best thing leaders of any business, organization, or church can do to instigate needed change is to engage in a thorough strategic planning process. However, there are some important things you need to keep in mind as you do so. I will list in this blog some of the more important things to remember as you work to institute needed change in your organization:

1. Build on your strengths. Many of the churches I know who are experiencing decline tend to focus on their weaknesses. One should never completely disregard problem areas and should do what they can to improve them. But most of the resources should be applied to what is already getting the best results. Of course, there may be exceptions to this rule. There may be times when you need to go in a completely different direction.

2. Keep it simple; More and more leaders are learning the importance of simplicity. Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger have written an excellent book on this called Simple Church. The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. Complexity is the enemy of effectiveness.

3. Focus on your core process/mission. Continue Reading…

Logo Transparent jpeg without words(This is the third post in a series: How To Change an Organization and Create a New Culture)

“If you are wedded to today’s trends, you’ll be widowed by the weekend.” —E. Stanley Jones


The world is changing rapidly. We all know that. And yet, anyone who has tried to change the culture of a corporation, organization, or church quickly learns how much resistance there is to meaningful, positive change. I’ve previously discussed the powerful resistance we face. Today I will begin to outline some of the steps we can take to bring about positive change. My own experiences are with churches, but I believe the principles apply to all organizations, businesses, and corporations. People are people, and we act pretty much the same way in any of these institutions. As you read the following steps please keep in mind that organizational and cultural change is a process, not an event.

1. Create a sense of urgency. Because of its extreme importance, yesterday’s blog dealt with this subject. (Instituting Change: The Problem with Complacency and the Need for Urgency) People will not change until a certain level of discontent with the present circumstances has been created. I found it helpful to remind church members that change was already taking place. The question was simply, would we manage the change , or would the change manage us. WARNING: Be careful with this stage of the process; the messenger sometimes gets shot. This is where an outside consultant can often be very helpful.

2. Build a team. Don’t try to do this alone. You will need all the help you can get. Continue Reading…

Logo Transparent jpeg without words(This is the second post in a series: How To Change an Organization and Create a New Culture)

“Nobody changes until the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of change.”


I understand this is a quote you will hear often in Alcoholic Anonymous meetings. While this is not, of course, universally true, there is a great deal of wisdom in this statement. Not only does it apply to individuals, it adds a lot of insight into organizations. As I wrote yesterday, there is a great deal of resistance to change in most companies, organizations, and churches. Most organizations will not make significant changes in the way they operate unless there is a great deal of discontent with the current circumstances.

Most organizations will not make significant changes in the way they operate unless there is a great deal of discontent with the current circumstances.”

United Methodist pastors are appointed to their church by our bishop. Most of the churches I was appointed to were transitional churches who had been experiencing decline for many years. In each case I found that the first step to renewal was getting the people to recognize the urgency of the situation. Continue Reading…




Logo Transparent jpeg without words(This is the first post in a series: How To Change an Organization and Create a New Culture)

This blog post will be the first in a series of articles that should help anyone who wishes to bring about change in any organization, especially a church, and create a new environmental culture.


I spent last week on this blog sharing how Christian Life Coaching can be used to help develop mature, reproducing disciples of Jesus Christ. Many churches have abandoned the idea of evangelism. Other churches have emphasized a sort of “magical” version in which a convert “gets saved” via their heavenly fire insurance policy. They receive this policy by praying the magic formula called “the sinner’s prayer.” I don’t mean to make light of this, except to emphasize the fact that many of these churches are better at counting decisions than making disciples. And Jesus didn’t command us to count decisions; he commanded us to make disciples who follow him.

Any individual can adopt the coaching method (or other related procedures such as mentors or accountability partners) to make mature, reproducing disciples of Jesus. However, if this is to become a major movement in my lifetime, the institutional church must begin to use these methods to more effectively carry out the Great Commission given by Jesus. After all, while I believe the institutional church is in decline in this country, it has survived for two thousand years and is not going away any time soon.

“However, if this is to become a major movement in my lifetime, the institutional church must begin to use these methods to more effectively carry out the Great Commission given by Jesus.”

The problem, of course, is that most institutions are extremely resistant to change, and the traditional, institutional church is more guilty of this than most. So, how do we bring about change in an organization like the church? Continue Reading…