How to Lead Change Effectively: Honestly Assess Your Church... and Leave the Bylaws Alone

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Bert Perry's picture

The author is more or less talking about doing a "gemba walk" through the church.  The trouble with it is that church members are often less loyal than are employees--nobody is paid to go to church, after all, or loses their house or car because they weren't in fellowship.  So you won't hear everything, and you've got to listen very carefully.  

However, the principle that you need to listen to negative feedback is well taken. I've done quality and reliability related work for nearly 17 years now, and in general I've found that the people who complain are the best friends you have, even if they accuse you of not knowing from shoe polish.  There are a few who will just bend your ear to get their way, but in my experience it's rare that people will do that.  More often, if you notice something that looks difficult to you and mention it to them, you've got a friend for life who will do far more than you ask.

Second principle; in general (this has to do with the Grace report & BJU) disfunctional churches do not suffer from bad by-laws, but rather a bad "corporate culture" (corpus means body, it's an apt picture of the Church, no?).  So when leaders model listening, they're also changing the DNA of the body.  It's a good thing.  And, quite frankly, I think it's a picture of the closeness that pastors/elders/deacons ought to have with church members.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

dmyers's picture

I agree that changing the bylaws is unlikely to cure a church's leadership problems.  However, having represented various parties in numerous church disputes, it is absolutely true that most churches with a congregational government need to change their bylaws to minimize the chance of a paralyzing legal battle over the church's "true" leadership.  For example, it's amazing how many long-inactive "members" will show up and combine together to stir the pot when they see an opportunity to do so.

Bert Perry's picture

....per dmyers' excellent comment about people coming back to churches they've left to wreak havoc, that I considered raising a fuss at a "closet KJVO" church I left because they'd lied about being KJVO.  And then I learned that about a third of the people at the church I went to were former members of that church, and I realized that the problems there were far, far bigger than I could solve, even in my dreams.

But I can see the provision of "you are a member here until you get a letter from a like-minded church and we decide to transfer your membership" could cause problems because others didn't think like I did.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.