Recognizing the Difference Between Change and Transition

Exciting news! Ministry 3.0 is officially on sale now from the Coaching4Clergy website. It’s an anthology of coaching stories from 18 contributing authors who are using coaching in ministry settings. My purpose behind the book was to put a tool in people’s hands as they create a coaching culture.

As I train and mentor pastors and coaches, and work with a variety of ministry organizations, I get a lot of interest in the topic of coaching culture. And while Ministry 3.0 has an entire section devoted to creating a larger coaching culture, sometimes it’s not that simple. So in today’s newsletter and then weekly in the blog, I’ll be giving you some tools for shifting a church’s culture.

I’m presenting a workshop on this topic in London in the UK on October 2nd, so this will be a sneak peek of some of what those participants will learn.

Today’s tip is: Recognize the difference between change and transition

If you visited the Coaching4Clergy blog last week, you would have seen one of my favorite YouTube videos, starring the very funny Bob Newhart.[a] In the video, Bob Newhart, playing a therapist as he did for so many years on “The Bob Newhart Show,” responds to his client’s many concerns with the same two words, “Stop it!” Telling someone to “just stop it” completely disregards the internal shifts that are necessary for making any deep or long-lasting changes.

It’s the same with changing the culture or a church or any organization. What’s really needed is an internal shift. The coaches I work with really get this. Yes, external things will change, including the actions we take and the things we do. But the real work is on who we are.

I remember an elderly couple at the last church I pastored. They had been completely supportive of a brand new service we were starting. That is, until the day they arrived in the parking lot and found they could not park in their regular spot because so many people were attracted to the new service. Not only that, but they had to park in a completely different section and enter the church through another door.

They were on board with the change in theory, but when it required them to change how they did things, they resisted it. They had stepped back logically and thought it through as something great for the church, but they hadn’t done the internal reorientation to discover, “How will this impact us? What will be different for me?”

It wasn’t about the parking spot. It was about change. We must always expect pushback with change. If there isn’t pushback, then I’m not certain we’re really getting to the real shift, rather we’re just dancing around the edge. Here’s where your coaching skills will be incredibly valuable. In this case, I stopped in for coffee, and I did a lot of listening. We did that coaching dance, staying really light about the topic until they felt enough trust to open up and talk candidly about how unsettled they felt. From there, I could help them prepare for what to expect going forward.

Losing their parking spot felt like an abrupt and unsettling change. Coaching helped ease them into the transition so they could cope with the “new normal” for the long road.

Remember, you can pick up your own copy of Ministry 3.0 now, or check out the links below for more details about what you’ll find:

How Do You Switch Hats When You’re a Pastor and a Coach? – Coaching for leadership and team development

Stressless Preaching – Coaching Makes it Possible! – Practical help for pastors

Coaching Pastors and Churches Through Transition and Change

Transforming the Annual Ministry Review – Creating a larger coaching culture

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