Leading change

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A number of years ago I developed a program for denominational teams on fueling church planting movements.

We met six times over two years for two to three days each time. Each time we met for two to three days and tackled a topic related to applying church planting movement principles: vision for church planting movements, growing church planting leaders, selecting church planters, coaching church planters, churches planting churches.

I ran the program in Australia and New Zealand, Britain and Europe. Hundreds of participants in thirty teams from fifteen nations were involved. The results were mixed.

Here’s what I learned through the experience about introducing change aimed at fueling church planting.

You can’t change people

You can create a first class learning environment with state of the art presentations and carefully crafted material, but you can’t change people. You can’t motive people. In fact, for some of the teams, who re required by their leadership to attend, you can do damage and strengthen their resistance to change.

The 85/15 rule

Around 85% of leaders and teams that sign up for training are not ready to implement. There are too many other distracting agendas. Too much resistance or indifference to change.

The 15/85 rule

Fifteen percent of leaders and teams are ready for action. Train thirty teams and you’ll find four or five who are ripe. You might regard that as a depressing ratio. Not so. The 15% will end up planting more new churches than the 85% combined. They are gold worth panning for.

Look for the early adopters

How to spot the 15%? Look for leaders and teams who throw caution to the wind and immediately begin implementing what they are learning. They aren’t interested in abstract ideas they are desperate to do something.

Who is in the harvest?

The program was good. We got the content and the learning environment right. But I made one mistake. We took too long before challenging teams to do what Jesus did and get out among lost people. Nothing else comes near the power of seeing lives changed by the gospel.

It’s the leaders and teams who are at the coalface who catch God’s heart, who learn his ways, who inspire others to step out in faith.