The Leader as Catalyst – Part 8: A Simple Framework for Leading Change
Well, the “seven-part” series on being a Catalytic leader has morphed into twelve segments! I’ve decided to include a bit more of a comprehensive look at the implementation process I introduced in the last segment. Specifically, this will be about what is commonly referred to as leading change or change leadership. This is a primary skill that a catalytic leader must possess to effectively implement the Kingdom way of life in a local church setting. Again, it is creating this environment in a church that facilitates the overall Kingdom movement of God.
When I was just starting out in pastoral ministry, I was engaged in a church plant. Being 29 years old, working a job, married with no children, and with about twelve people in our core community of this fledgling church, I had lots of time to pray. With my wife working twelve-hour shifts from 3 pm-3 am, I had lots of time to pray, study the scriptures and read books on ministry. And I did. For at least three hours a day, I would pray, and I would journal the things the Lord laid on my heart. On April 17, 1991, the Holy Spirit impressed several things on my heart. In one day, I wrote out what would become the first edition of something we called Foundations. Basically, this was our “new member” orientation tool, an eight-session series of classes that encompassed the ethos of what we thought “church” was all about. It comprised our values, vision, mission, doctrinal beliefs, and spiritual practices. It was explicitly designed to provide a common framework and “foundation” for our life and ministry together as a Kingdom community. Today, 30 years later, a refined and modified version of this has been turned into a one-on-one discipleship tool that we use to onboard new folks into our community. The original Foundations tool, and its subsequent editions and versions, was designed to implement a simple four-step process for mobilizing people for the mission of God. Our church plant, called Harvest Christian Fellowship, was founded upon a passage from Luke 10:1-9:
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’
The problem in Jesus’ day was not a lack of harvest but a lack of laborers. In my times of prayer, the Holy Spirit made it clear to me that the problem I faced in ministry was the same. I had no formal training for ministry but had been intentionally discipled and mentored in the local church, which launched my wife and me into our church planting endeavor. This had taught me how to seek the Lord for organic solutions to the issues I faced. And from that pursuit, I feel the Lord spoke four simple steps to catalyzing a new church. Subsequently, over the past 30 years of pastoral ministry, I have learned how they are also applied to lead change in an existing congregational setting. Here they are:
Tell people what the Father is doing – and wants to do.
Invite people to join together with Him in what He is doing – and going to do.
Equip people to prepare them to join with Him in what He is doing.
Position and release them to the mission with Him.
In our next four subsequent sessions, I will unpack each one of these in considerable detail. For now, take a moment and reflect on how the five critical elements of catalytic leadership apply to these four steps for leading change. Here they are again for your review:
Envisioner – “See the Way”
Expositor – “Interpret the Way”
Implementer – “Define the Way”
Progenitor – “Give the Way”
Equipper – “Prepare those on the Way”
Now, for another reflective exercise, consider how the Foundations tool I described above, or one like it:
· Could be used to facilitate the four-stage change process
· Could embody the five elements of catalytic leadership
Enjoy! And get ready for a deep dive on each step in the coming weeks!