What I’m Learning Outside the Church Bubble: Day 2

My new favorite obsession is discerning a congregation’s true cultureBoard Room and then helping them make transformational shifts.

Sometimes small changes make big differences.  And sometimes the essential  changes feel impossibly huge.

We spent time here on Tuesday covering intergenerational collaboration, leveraging board relationships, and partnering more effectively with volunteers. Juicy stuff.  If you are feeling stuck in your ministry, integrating Church World and Business World (with a faith perspective) fuels all kinds of fresh ideas.

So, here are some truths to ponder with our boards and staffs:

  • Collaboration with each other takes a lot of time and energy.
  • Training leaders takes a lot of time and energy.
  • Making a congregation safe and ready for diversity takes a lot of time and energy.  (It also makes us smarter according to Katherine W. Phillips.)
  • We have to decide if collaboration and training are worth it.  (Some of us will say “no.”)
  • There are simple and effective ways to “manage the pain” of culture changes.  (A future blog post.)
  • Succession plans can (and should) be considered throughout one’s service.  (This is not the same as a retirement plan.)  We must consider who will come after us so that we can set them up to succeed.

More tomorrow.

5 responses to “What I’m Learning Outside the Church Bubble: Day 2

  1. Thank you for all your posts! I’d love for you to dig deeper (and I’d love to be a part of the conversation, if you desire) into the idea of succession plans. We often hide behind the reality of being called and don’t wish to talk about the fact that for most of us that means called away from places because our season of service has concluded. How do we start the conversation in such a way that is welcoming and not worrisome for congregations (and pastors!). Any info or conversation starters would be awesome!


    • Hi Ben – Agree re: we credit/blame HS for keeping us in a place where we are no longer called. And sometimes we are called away from our current call without a clear understanding of where we are called to next which is semi-terrifying.

      It’s very difficult to talk about this with those who are in authority over us. For example, if you are #2 on staff and you want to have this conversation with #1, it’s obviously a delicate conversation. So much depends on the trust that’s previously been established. (And if there is no or too little trust, this conversation is almost impossible to have well.) If the team goals (assuming that the church staff and officers are on the same team) are about the whole as in “we exist to transform this suburb to God’s glory” then you can appeal to that group purpose. It’s also true, though, that we each have our own individual goals, so if someone’s individual goal is to retire at 75 and that goal is trumping the community goal, then it’s a trickier situation. I’m wondering if you could appeal to those who do have the trust of the #1, for example.

      I’m hoping to tease out this whole issue, because we in the church do not do succession particularly well. More later.


  2. Can you say more about succession plans or point me in a direction that speaks to the subject? Thanks.


    • Hi Denise – We are just touching on this but for now, I know that a succession plan is not necessarily the same as a retirement plan. More later. I’m happy to share resources as we receive them.


  3. Thanks for this, Jan–and for all you are learning at the Kellogg School–very interesting stuff! Your thoughts about trust are the key ingredient for any successful discussion about succession to occur. Do we trust each other enough to wonder together what’s best for all parties? I’m not sure–and I’m not sure how we build that trust? But that is the stuff that I think will lead us towards something new and beautiful instead of following a path that has worked–and continues to work–because it’s easy and others have shown us the way to do it! Please keep these wonderful posts going!


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