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4 Doors of Change
by Sam Williams
When you propose a new program or shut down an outdated ministry, you're asking people to change on four different levels: mind, heart, lifestyle, and culture. Each level of change requires a different kind of response:
The key to a change of mind is information. Facts that support the reasons for change need to be gathered and shared. They are more persuasive than opinions. Facts alone, though, don't bring about change. In fact, they can precipitate conflict, because everyone will not agree on what needs to be done or be ready to do it.
The key to a change of attitude is relationship. When conflict begins, the natural tendency is to react against it and gather counter-information. The problem at this level, however, is more emotional than intellectual. The leader's role is to intensify relationships, not conflict, with the people who are struggling. This is difficult because the emotional reaction is often directed personally at the leader. Stay close. Express understanding. Help people through the fear, loss, and grief that inevitably accompany change.
The key to a change of lifestyle is experiences. Leaders need to give followers the opportunity to have the same kind of experiences they have had, that have helped bring about their own change. Experiences can be the reading of books, visiting other churches that have successfully made changes, and especially having the opportunity to visit with others like themselves who have been involved in a change process. And, finally, to explore and experiment with small changes that have a high likelihood of success, in order to build good experiences and become comfortable with the desired change.
The key to a change of culture is commitment. Note that commitment is the cumulative result of good information, intensified relationships, and explorative experiences. A leader's common mistake is to push too quickly for commitment, and to believe they have it when they have simply won a vote or approval of a new plan. Culture is "the way things are done around here." Cultures change slowly, with much difficulty, as the individuals who make up the culture change their minds, attitudes, and lifestyles.
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