Forming a Strategic Team to Lead Transition

The Austin Stone didn’t begin as a church committed to missional communities.  Through several years, we have transitioned our church from a traditional community/small group model to our current model of missional communities.  This series of posts will help you understand how we made that transition over time:

Much of this framework is adapted from John Kotter’s model for leading organizational change.  I pray this series will help many of you that are leading churches through a season of transition!


Form a Strategic Team to Lead Through Transition

After you have created a sense of urgency and convinced people that change is necessary, the next step is to cultivate a team to guide the transition. This often takes strong leadership and visible support from key people within your organization. Managing change isn’t enough – you have to lead it!

To lead change, you need to bring together a coalition of influential people whose influence comes from a variety of sources, not just those with formally recognized roles.  These kinds of people can be found from your pulpit to the children’s ministry to a greeter who knows everyone’s name.

Particularly, I would focus on a few groups of people:

  • The primary communicators in your church
  • The leaders who allocate resources for the church
  • Point leaders for existing ministries
  • Individuals who seem adaptable, entrepreneurial, or generally attracted to change

Often times it can be relatively easy to get a visionary or preacher excited about change, but the real hard work often comes with those tasked with the implementation of the existing vision.  You will want to involve these kinds of people in your guiding coalition or task force, allowing them buy in to the process of change, not jus the vision.  The Austin Stone spent a good solid year in vision-casting, strategic planning, and piloting with this particular team.  It was critical that our stakeholders didn’t just hear a vision, but contributed to the development of the process of change.

This often will be the best way to turn those who are reluctant at first into the most committed to the change.  Once formed, your “change coalition” needs to work as a team building momentum and strategy for a wider-scale launch of this new vision and practice.

In this stage, it is important that you:

  • Identify the true leaders and stakeholders in your church
  • Obtain conviction about the transition from these key leaders
  • Create collaborative environments where leaders can contribute to the vision and strategy
  • Identify weakness in your team, or expertise you may be lacking

Transition at The Austin Stone didn’t happen overnight, but rather over the course of years.  Honestly, we expected it to go much faster than it did!  If we had built our team for the transition solely based on execution, not conviction, I am certain that we would not be pursuing missional communities today.  This team you build needs to be more captivated that your church would become something, rather than simply excited about implementing a new strategy!


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