All good navigators prepare their boat before leaving theharbour. Their maxim is “If you have it, it should work.”In some way this is also asked of the crew - do they knowwhere they are going, what they are expected to do?Within ASP it is vital to assess the readiness of the teamand church before starting the process.
Step 1: Secure the support of the Empowered LeadershipIs the church ready to pursueSP? This starts with the church’sempowered leadership - do thepeople who have power supportthe process?Governing board, pastor, staff,matriarch, patriarch etc. need tobe in support.
Are the Board ready and open?Malphurs has produced a Readinessfor Change Inventory which hesuggests a pastor should take in helpinghim consider whether his board areopen and ready to beginning the SPprocess: http://www.malphursgroup.com/images/PDFs/ReadinessforChange.pdfHe also suggests that if a board isresistant to change then you have totake time - 3-5 years is his suggestedperiod - during this time you canchoose ways to educate them and helpthings progress.
Readiness for Change Inventoryby Aubrey Malphurs, Ph.D.Directions: Each item below is akey element that will help you toevaluate your churchs readinessfor change.Strive for objectivity-involveothers (including outsiders) in theevaluation process. Circle thenumber that most accurately ratesyour church.
1. Leadership. The pastor and the church board(ofﬁcial leadership) are favorable toward anddirectly responsible for change. Also, anyinﬂuential persons (unofﬁcial leadership: thechurch patriarch, a wealthy member, etc.) are forchange, score 5. If moderately so, score 3. Onlythe secondary level of leadership (other staff,Sunday school teachers, etc.) is for change whileunofﬁcial leadership opposes it. Here it is lesslikely to occur, score 1
2. Vision. The pastor and the board have a single,clear vision of a signiﬁcant future that looksdifferent from the present. The pastor is able tomobilize most relevant parties (other staff, boards,and the congregation) for action, score 5. Thepastor but not the board envisions a differentdirection for the church, score 3. The pastor andboard have not thought about a vision, and/orthey do not believe that it is important, score 1.
3. Values. The churchs philosophy of ministry(its core values) includes a preference forinnovation and creativity. Though proven forms,methods, and techniques are not discarded at awhim, the church is more concerned with theeffectiveness of its ministries than adherence totraditions, score 5. If moderately so, score 3. Thechurchs ministry forms and techniques havechanged little over the years while its ministryeffectiveness has diminished, score 1.
4. Motivation. The pastor and the board havea strong sense of urgency for change that isshared by the congregation. The congregationalculture emphasizes the need for constantimprovement, score 3. The pastor and/or theboard (most of whom have been in theirpositions for many years) along with thecongregation are bound by long standingtraditions that are change-resistant anddiscourage risk-taking, score 1. If somewherebetween, score 2.
5. Organizational Context. How does thechange effort affect the other programs in thechurch (Christian education, worship,missions, etc.)? If the individuals in charge areall working together for improvement andinnovation, score 3. If some are, score 2. Ifmany are opposed to change and/or are inconﬂict with one another over change, score 1
6. Processes/Functions. Major changes in achurch almost always require redesigningprocesses and functions in all the ministries ofthe church such as Christian education, churchworship, etc. If most in charge of these areas areopen to change, score 3. If only some, score 2. Ifthey are turf protectors or put their areas ofministry ahead of thechurch as a whole, score 1
7. Ministry Awareness. Does the leadership ofyour church keep up with what is taking place inthe innovative evangelical churches in thecommunity and across America in terms ofministry and outreach effectiveness? Does itobjectively compare what it is doing to that ofchurches that are very similar to it? If the answeris yes, score 3. If the answer is sometimes, score2. If no, score 1
8. Community Focus. Does the church knowand understand the people in the community-their needs, hopes, aspirations? Does it stay indirect contact with them? Does it regularly seekto reach them? If the answer is yes, score 3. Ifmoderately so, score 2. If the church is not intouch with its community and focuses primarilyon itself, score 1.
9. Evaluation. Does the church regularlyevaluate its ministries? Does it evaluate itsministries in light of its vision and goals? Arethese ministries regularly adjusted in response tothe evaluations? If all of this takes place, score 3.If some takes place, score 2. If none, score 1
10. Rewards. Change is easier if the leadersand those involved in ministry are rewarded insome way for taking risks and looking for newsolutions to their ministry problems. Also,rewarding ministry teams is more effective thanrewarding solo performances. If thischaracterizes your church, score 3. If sometimes, score 2. If your church rewards the statusquo and only a maintenance mentality, score 1.
11. Organizational Structure. The bestsituation is a ﬂexible church where change iswell received and takes place periodically, notevery day. If this is true of your church, score 3.Some churches are very rigid in their structureand either have changed very little in the lastﬁve years or have experienced several futileattempts at change to no avail, score 1. Ifbetween, score 2
12. Communication. Does your church have avariety of means for two-way communication?Do most understand and use it, and does it reachall levels of the congregation? If this is true, score3. If only moderately true, score 2. Ifcommunication is poor, primarily one-way andtop-down, score 1
13. Organizational Hierarchy. Is your churchdecentralized (has few if any levels of leadershipbetween the congregation and the pastor or theboard)? If so, score 3. If there are people on stafflevels or boards/committees who come betweenthe congregation and the pastor or the board,then more potential exists for them to blockessential change, score 1. If between, score 2.
14. Prior Change. Churches will most readilyadapt to change if they have successfullyimplemented major changes in the recent past,score 3. If some change, score 2. If no one canremember the last time the church changed or ifsuch efforts failed or left people angry andresentful, score 1.
15. Morale. Do the church staff and volunteersenjoy the church and take responsibility for theirministries? Do they trust the pastor and/or theboard? If so, score 3. If moderately so, score 2.Do few people volunteer and are there signs oflow team spirit? Is there mistrust betweenleaders and followers and between the variousministries? If so, score 1.
16. Innovation. The church tries new things.People feel free to implement new ideas on aconsistent basis. People have the freedom to makechoices and solve problems regarding theirministries. If this describes your church, score 3.If this is somewhat true, score 2. If ministries areensnared in bureaucratic red tape and permissionfrom "on high" must be obtained before anythinghappens, score 1
17. Decision-Making. Does the churchleadership listen carefully to a wide variety ofsuggestions from all the congregation? After ithas gathered the appropriate information, doesit make decisions quickly? If so, score 3. Ifmoderately so, score 2. Does the leadershiplisten only to a select few and take forever tomake a decision? Is there lots of conﬂict duringthe process, and after a decision is made, is thereconfusion and turmoil? Then, score 1.
IF YOUR SCORE IS47-57: The chances are good that you may implementchange, especially if your scores are high on items 1-3.28-46: Change may take place but with varyingsuccess. Chances increase the higher the score onitems 1-3. Note areas with low scores and focus onimprovement before attempting change on a largescale.17-27: Change will not likely take place. Note areaswith low scores and attempt to improve them… ifpossible. Consider starting a new church andimplement your ideas in a more "change-friendly"context.
Is the Pastor ready?Does he see the need /importance / beneﬁts? Will hehelp to convince others?Is he aware of a need to change- is he resistant to change? Is hestuck in the old patterns? Is heafraid of failure if he triessomething new such as afailure of the process and thatthe people will not follow?Entering a new process orstage is a frightening time formany people.
Are the Staff ready?This might be just the worship leader,youth pastor - or many more staff in alarge church. These are the peoplewho are most likely to be involved inimplementing the process - they canmake things difﬁcult by beinguncooperative. Many of the reasonsfor resisting that applied to a pastorapply here also.This might lead (after time trying tohelp them get on board with the idea)of letting them go and ﬁnd other jobs- it will be best for the church!
Is the Matriarch / Patriarch ready?Often found in small churches - aperson who has been in thechurch for many years and hasgreat inﬂuence (power). It isworth knowing that the averagesmall church pastor stays only 3-4years. A person who has beenthere a long time is oftenrespected and trusted. Suchpeople must be won over by thepastor. They might, or might not,be spiritual people!
Step 2: Recruit a Strategic Leadership TeamA ministry is only as good as thepeople who lead it. It is importantnot to take the willing volunteers, thefaithful people, but the real ministryleaders in the church. The leaderswill own the results - and put theminto action.Most often God works throughpeople - they represent the churchand lead the process - in recruitingthis team you have to get their fullcommitment.
Who will choose the team?The senior “leaders” in a church shoulddo this.Whom will they choose?The SLT should be leaders in yourchurch - spiritual leaders who haveinﬂuence - not pew ﬁllers. People like:senior pastor, board members, staff, layleaders, ofﬁce holders, small groupleaders, inﬂuencers, etc. Malphurssuggests women should not beforgotten in the process - even if theyare not allowed to “lead” in a church.
Why have these people on theteam?- as leaders they generatecongregational trust- they should be spiritually matureand gifted- a team shows it is not a one manshow or idea- the team should know thechurch and people well- the team will probably outlastthe pastor at the church.
Why would these people want tobe on the team?- they care about Christ’s churchand its future - same for localchurch- they care about their locality- they believe church brings hope- they want to make a differenceAll of these desires would befulﬁlled by being involved in theSLTThe number of members andmeeting dates were discussed insection 1
Who leads the team?Senior pastor - the obviousand preferred choice - theonly hesitancy is overwhether he has the abilitiesrequired. Malphurs suggeststhat many pastors are notleaders - in this case chooseanother person with therelevant gifting andexperience to lead the team.
What do you expect of the team?- prayerfulness- positive enthusiasm for theprocess- a team player but not a yes man!- a consensus person in decisionmaking- committed to attending meetingsfor the whole process- participate in all aspects of theprocess- able to keep a conﬁdence
- use of gifts and talent to help inthe process- help with implementation- be prepared for each session- proactively promote the work ofthe SLT in the congregationBefore any commitment is mademeet with prospective SLTmembers - explain what it is allabout, allow them to ask questions,talk it through - Malphurs suggestsa covenant of commitment whichoutlines the above expectations issigned
Step 3: Improve communication with the congregationIf you want to take over a country youhave to capture the media outlets - inchurch you have to communicate too.It builds trust - if they do not trustyou, you cannot lead them -communicate as much as possible asoften as possible.Do it through the senior pastor - if atall possible - if not use another senior,gifted communicator
How will you communicateInformal is very good - casualchatting, openly speaking aboutthe process - SLT need to spreadthe message within their sphere ofinﬂuenceFormal - One way throughnewsletters, videos, skits,announcements etc.Two way through opportunities tospeak and get feedback, questionsetc. - but be ready for somefeedback from people who mightnot be happy!
Communicating well - a fewsimple questions:- who needs to know- what do they need to know- who will tell them- how will we tell them- when and where should we tellthemMalphurs also suggests a propergrievance process - recognise weshould not complain (Phil 2:14,Eph 4:2) but someone people stilldo! Base the process on Matt5:23-24, 18:15-19 - then do it.
Step 4: Assess the church’s readiness for changeMalphurs observes that as change isaffecting the world at a rapid ratetoday his reason for writing the bookwas to help the church face the effectsof this and function best during suchtimes of change. In this step hesuggests ways the church can assestheir readiness for change to takeplace. He suggests 2 Cor 3:18 shows aninternal change taking place in thebeliever that is then seen in outwardchanges in church life and ministry,and prevents us falling into ruts.
It has ben said:From the start of recorded history to1900 knowledge doubledFrom 1900 to 1950 it doubled againFrom 1975 onwards it doubled everyﬁve yearsCurrently it is said to double everytwo yearsChange is happening - and weneed to ensure we are ready andequipped to face it. Not liking, notwanting, change will not stop ithappening. Ask: will continuingto do what you are doing create abetter future?
Take the readiness for change inventoryWe saw this earlier - now hesuggests every member ofthe SLT take the inventory.Consider each personsresults as well as the groupas a whole.What should you do if youdo not score well? Will yourecommit or stay the same?
Discuss the results of the church ministry analysisThis will be taken in step 5.An online version is availablehere: http://www.malphursgroup.com/images/PDFs/MinistryAnalysis.pdfThis asks all sorts of questionsregarding the church’s readinessto change. Out of this you willdiscover if the church needstweak change or deep change.
Discuss the results of the church ministry analysisOften churches needing deepchange will not face up to it.Look at how people responded tothe result of the analysis: denial,anger, questioning the tool, admitthe struggle, accept the problemsand have a concern to rebuild andmove on etc?
Ask probing questionsSuch questions plant seeds of doubtthat can lead to change. Ask questionsthat: Force people to think, make themface issues they might prefer to avoid,that catalyse and challenge thinkingThe Bible uses questions - God askedAdam about eating the fruit of thetree, Jesus in Matt 22: 41-46 usedthem.“Why” is a great question - e.g. Whydo you think you will get differentresults by doing the same thing overand over?
Address people’s emotionsFeelings have to be addressedas well as minds. Malphurssuggests Gal 5:22-23 areessentially emotions (?) andthat Nehemiah wept aboutJerusalem.Emotions often make apowerful and lastingimpression which is hard tobreak down.You need to think about howbest to tap into emotions inyour situation.
Embrace a theology of changeTransformation is at the heart ofbiblical change - 2 Cor 3:18, Rom12:2 - through transformation webecome more Christlike, Gal 4:19,and show the fruit of HSp.Every Christian should be beingtransformed.Church’s etc. Have to decide ifnothing or everything shouldchange - opinions will vary as towhich. We need a theology ofchange to help us through this.
Function What is the church here for?Worship, evangelism, prayer,fellowship...
Function What is the church here for?Worship, evangelism, prayer,fellowship...Decide what is timeless andshould not be changed - thetimeless, core ingredients ofministry.
FormThe form of things simply servesthe function - a vehicle to get usthere, they reﬂect the culture of thechurch.Forms will be affected by theculture of the day. At all timesthese must serve the greaterfunction of the church.FreedomDecide what is open for change -structure, policy, procedure etc.?Values, mission, vision will[possibly] never change.
Form Do youThe form of things simply serves question thethe function - a vehicle to get usthere, they reﬂect the culture of the validity ofchurch.Forms will be affected by the something inculture of the day. At all times church becausethese must serve the greaterfunction of the church. it was not doneFreedomDecide what is open for change - while you werestructure, policy, procedure etc.?Values, mission, vision will growing up?[possibly] never change.
Step 5: conduct a church ministry analysisThis is about assessing the realityof the situation (not about whatmight be). Malphurs suggestsusing his own one - freelydownloadable - and says the SLTshould take it.http://www.malphursgroup.com/images/PDFs/MinistryAnalysis.pdf
Why the analysis is importantIt asks the basics - how are wedoing and what kind of church arewe?It removes the possibility of hidingfrom reality and makes people faceup to issues.Malphurs suggests Nehemiah didthis in 2:11-17, and Paul in Acts15:36, to see how they are doing?It prompts “what could be?” -identifying weaknesses can lead tocorrection which leads to greatereffectiveness of vision in the future.
It produces the iceberg effect -the analysis blows away any fogallowing the church to seeicebergs, they then can see if theycan readjust to avoid them.It surfaces complacency - do yousay, “well we aren’t losingpeople” or “Most churches arestruggling” - but does not letthem off the hook.Biblically leaders addressed thisby creating a sense of urgency -Neh 2:17-18, Isa 55:6, Hos 10:12,Matt 28:18-20, 2 Cor 5:14-6:2
It prompts change - people see theiceberg and change course -Malphurs uses the analysis toestimate how much longer thechurch has to live - this produces aresponse of wanting change.Having said that there is a need forobjectivity - do not distort thingsto produce an effect - be open andhonest but do not mislead people.Malphurs says correlating theresults here is a long (2 days)process, and other surveys areavailable online.
Step 6: set reasonable time expectations for the planning processSP provides a process that will bechange and new direction to yourchurch - but this does not happenovernight, it will take time, andyou have to ask will thecongregation be ready for it?Change will be a constant part ofthe process, even from the earlystages. If the church is in declinethe process will take longer.
Malphurs suggests the changeprocess will take 3-10 years -though healthy churches willalways have some change going on.This will be a problem for somechurches - and he tells of a churchthat had only one year left, anddied in the process.The best response to the time factoris patience - will people hang inwhen the excitement is gone, whenit is not feeling new and fresh andwhen people come and attack us?
Often church people taketheir cue from the pastor -is he willing to stick with itfor the longer term?The ﬁnal step of preparingis laying a spiritualfoundation - something soimportant Malphurs givesa whole chapter to it in hisbook.