III. Managing Change -- By: Mary Ellen Drushal

Journal: Ashland Theological Journal
Volume: ATJ 21:0 (NA 1989)
Article: III. Managing Change
Author: Mary Ellen Drushal


III. Managing Change

Mary Ellen Drushal

Dr. Drushal is Associate Professor of Christian Education and Church Administration at ATS.

American society has been depersonalized to include only brief encounters with other (Hestenes, 1987): the clerk at McDonald’s the collector in the toll booth and the reader of the gas/electric meter. Even cash can be obtained from one’s bank account by using a plastic card rather than interacting with a teller! People are, therefore, often not sufficiently prepared by societal contacts to endure the kind of relational exchange necessary to produce planned change.

No one likes change, and those who do would rather dictate it than work through a process that results in it. In our “microwave culture” we expect change to be immediate. If soup and a sandwich is desired it can be a reality within 3 to 5 minutes and devoured in 5 to 8 minutes. Having satisfied the hunger pains, the consumer is off to slay other dragons instantaneously

Any tampering with the status quo brings with it uncertainty and doubts about its replacement, no matter how logical and needed the change might be. Most people fear the unknown end-results of change. The process of planned change should not be employed for every decision. To change from using small paper clips to larger ones is not radical enough to warrant experiencing the process of planned change. But it should be entered into when decisions made will impact a large number of people and/or long-term decisions requiring the support and commitment of many. In the church, such decisions that would benefit from experiencing an approach to planned change could be: long-range planning, designing organizational modifications, selecting curriculum, establishing outreach ministries, providing support groups and others, ad infinitum.

Bennis and Nanus (1987, 21) state, “Managers are people who do things right and leaders are people who do the right thing.” Wise leaders will approach the process of planned change (the right thing) as one that involves a variety of people who will manage the tasks (do things right) necessary for implementing change.

Havelock (1973, 11) outlines a process of successful planned change, which contains six stages. His stages include:

I. Building a Relationship
II. Diagnosing the Problem
III. Acquiring Relevant Resources
IV. Choosing the Solution
V. Gaining Acceptance
VI. Stablizing the Innovation and Generating Self-Renewal

These stages and church-relateed applications of them are outlined below.

Building a Relationship

There is an adage that purports, “If yo...

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