February 14, 2024

Approaching Change in a Congregation

Most people dislike change. It can be hard work, stopping an old habit and starting another. It’s especially hard for an institution or a system to change – a group of people all have to go through the process together.

Church leaders often see a need for a change, whether it's moving the time of a worship service, ending a beloved but no longer needed ministry, or something as big as moving to a new leadership model, but the congregational system doesn't always allow the change to take place.

The best changes happen because we’re watching to discover what God is up to, and partnering in the work God is already doing.

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” - Isaiah 43:19

One useful tool to address change is the Beckhard-Harris Change Model. This model (first formulated by David Gleicher and clarified by Richard Beckhard and Rubin Harris) describes a critical interaction that can lead to Change. For Change to occur, Dissatisfaction x Vision x First Steps must be greater than the Resistance in the system.

To help leaders understand how to use the tool, ECF has built a free online tutorial on systemic change using the Beckhart model and can be accessed here. You will need to create a login to access the course. You can take it yourself or share it with your whole leadership team. If you have any questions, or trouble accessing the course, please email pivot@ecf.org.