Thursday, September 06, 2007

Bringing About Missional Transformation in Your Church

I sometimes get questions about how to bring about missional transformation in an established church. The best work on this by far is Becoming a Missional Leader by Alan J. Roxburgh and Fred Romanuk. Here is an excerpt of a missional change process from their work (p. 105).

Missional Change Model

Stage 1: Creating Awareness--Through intensive communication events, both one-on-one and in groups, leaders take people through dialogue and discussion about the need for missional transformation of the church; a 4-6 month process

Stage 2: Creating Understanding--The dialgoue and discussion serve to bring thinking and feeling modes of understanding together into a coherent pattern of understanding; a 3-5 month process

Stage 3: Evaluation--What is currently happening in the congregation is evaluated in light of awareness and understanding; a 3-5 month process

Stage 4: Creating Experiments--People begin to identify actions that they believe will move them toward becoming a missional church. The critical word is action. People will experiment through action

Stage 5: Commit--People commit to getting others involved in the process of moving through awareness to understanding, to evaluation, to experimentation, and finally to commitment.

A key on this change model, however, is beginning from the ground up. Most real change begins at the grassroots level, and then bubbles up to the top. Seeking to get top down change initially is both difficult--there is often resistance--and if accomplished, rather superficial. A better path is to start at the edges of the organization and let others see the success of the missional experiments.

The authors state: "Given that only 10-15 percent of any group has low resistance to change and are ready to adopt innovation, an attempt to innovate missional culture in a congregation that tries to begin with universal agreement (usually around some unknown and ill-defined concept) is headed for failure from the start. The key to initiating missional change is to begin with that first 10-15 percent of innovators. Leaders should direct change efforts for the first eighteen months at getting about 10 percent of their churches or system members through the stages of the Missional Change model and into the commitment stage. It's difficult and rare to reduce this time frame."

So if you want to start a missional movement in your church, begin by living a missional lifestyle. Then invite others into this lifestyle. Then start putting together some "ministries"--probably unofficial--that are missional. Then let others see the success, teach them further, and move towards greater adoption.
What questions do you have about this change process?


Anonymous said...

Hi James,

I have been reading your blog for a while now. Thank you so much for the thoughts that you share. I would love to catch up with you sometime.
Ed Cantrell

James said...


Great to hear from you. It's always good to know who's reading and if it is helpful.

Drop me a line, and I'd be happy to catch up. Maybe you guys could make a trip up to Kansas City when you get back in the States. We would love to have you.

God bless.