Monday, May 4, 2015

8 Things I’ve Learned About Bringing Culture Change

by Ben Sternke on May 4, 2015

Post image for 8 Things I’ve Learned About Bringing Culture ChangeI have been in Christian ministry for 21 years. As I look back, one of the major themes that comes to the surface is that I have always had a relentless drive to bring positive culture change to whatever situation I’m in.
From my early days of leading worship to church planting, from coaching pastors to consulting with churches large and small, I’ve always been interested in how to see cultures change for the better.
Of course, I did this VERY poorly at first, but God’s been helping me, as slowly as I seem to learn.
(I joke with pastors that I suspect “ministry jobs” are God’s remedial program for people who can’t follow Jesus the normal way.)
So here are, in no particular order, and probably without nearly enough explanation, 8 things I’ve learned about bringing culture change to an organization.

1. Never argue. Never.

I have spent SO MUCH TIME arguing with people about theology and ministry, thinking that if they just had this new information, they’d change their mind and walk in a new direction.
They never do. (Partly because of how our brains work, but that’s another article.)
When people want to argue, don’t take the bait. Learn to respond like Jesus did (asking questions, telling stories).

2. Be compassionately curious about people.

Change never happens all at once, sweeping everyone into its wake. Change happens granularly, iteratively. One person at a time. One relationship at a time. One conversation at a time.
Instead of trying to move everyone along at the same pace according to your plan, try being compassionate and curious about people. Ask them questions about why they do the things they do.
The ones who respond to this and begin opening up to a new way of living are the ones to focus on. Train them, equip them, and they’ll be the vanguard of the change you’re wanting to bring.

3. Listening is love.

Many of the people who are resistant to change simply need to know you hear them.
I’ve been amazed at how often someone who seems diametrically opposed to change will soften and support the change once they know they have been heard.
Listening is not just a “strategy,” it’s also the simplest way we love the people God has given us to lead. Change hurts sometimes, and often we simply need to hear people say that, and affirm it.

4. Never try to convince.

I’ve spent way too much time trying to get people to do things.
Don’t try to convince people to change. Instead, proclaim the gospel. As you do, it won’t take root in most people. Accept that. (I’m thinking of the parable of the soils here.)
But it will take root in some people. They’ll be the ones who approach you and say, “I knew there was something more I wanted… can you help me find it?”
Then spend most of your time and energy training and equipping those people. That’s your best shot at producing a healthy crop.

Read more at http://bensternke.com/culture-change/

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