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Navigating the Winds of Change

Navigating the Winds of Change

by Dr. Lynn Anderson Dr.


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How can your church manage cultural change without compromising eternal truths?

Many churches are currently grappling with this question, and this important book by Lynn Anderson is full of answers.

The winds of change are blowing, and they cannot be ignored. Churches that learn how to successfully manage the changes these winds bring will sail smoothly into the 21st century. Congregations that close their eyes to the reality of change will be swept off course or into extinction.

In this book, Anderson — a well-known author, minister, and leader — presents a wealth of practical, effective strategies for managing change in the church. He is the creative force behind the annual "Church That Connects" seminar that has helped hundreds of church leaders manage positive change in their congregations, and now he gives these vital strategies directly to you.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781878990310
Publisher: Howard Books
Publication date: 04/01/1994
Edition description: Original
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Lynn Anderson has been in the ministry for over thirty-five years and currently serves as president of Hope Network, a ministry dedicated to coaching, mentoring, and equipping spiritual leaders for the twenty-first century. He received his doctorate from Abilene Christian University in 1990.

Anderson's lifelong career of ministry has involved speaking nationwide to thousands of audiences and authoring eight books — including The Shepherd's Song; Navigating the Winds of Change; Heaven Came Down; They Smell like Sheep, Volume 1; and If I Really Believe, Why Do I Have These Doubts?

He and his wife, Carolyn, live in Dallas. They are the parents of four grown children and the grandparents of eight wonderful grandchildren.

Read an Excerpt

Navigating the Winds of Change

By Lynn Anderson

Howard Books

Copyright © 1994 Lynn Anderson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781878990310

Chapter One

Shattered dreams

Sometimes the winds of change

not only whip your hat off, they can blow your dreams away as

well. None of us can live well without dreams, because dreams

fuel our vitality. All of my life I have been a compulsive

dreamer. Can't keep from it. I think it's because I am

part of the human family. Even poems about dreaming enchant us.

Remember this song of a dreamer:

Man is a dreamer ever,

He glimpses the hills


And dreams of the

things out yonder,

Where all his tomorrows


And back of the sound

of the hammer,

And back of the hissing


And back of the wheels

that clamor,

Is ever a daring dream.



Birth of dreams

In other words, every big thing

we humans have done began between some dreamer's ears. Henry

Ford dreamed a sputtering, rattling dream and put the world on

wheels. Edison dreamed, and night disappeared. Columbus dreamed,

and a new world came into view.

Einstein, while daydreaming on

a hill one summer day, imagined riding sunbeams to the far

extremities of the universe. Upon finding himself returned,

"illogically," to the surface of the sun, he realized

that the universe must indeed be curved. This was the beginning

of his theory of relativity.

Beethoven stumbled through the

woods stone deaf to sounds outside him but with his head full of

musical dreams, and he put a song in the heart of humanity. Man

is a dreamer—ever!

Broken dreams

Yet, dark shadows lurk behind

our brightest dreams! Another poet hinted broadly that dreams

don't always come true.

We are all of us dreamers

of dreams,

On visions our childhood is


And the heart of the child

is unhaunted, it seems,

By the ghosts of dreams

that are dead.

Only children dream blissfully

unaware that some dreams get totally shattered. Life has not yet

left them with broken dreams. But sooner or later . . . So the

poet moves on:

From childhood to

youth's but a span

And the years of our life

are soon sped;

But the youth is no longer

a youth, but a man,

When the first of his

dreams is dead.

When did you last mourn the

death of a dream?

In 1901 a strange sale took

place in Washington, D. C. The government auctioned off 100,000

old patents that had never made it to production. The crowd

repeatedly roared with laughter at the bizarre contraptions

inventors had dreamed up. One was the "automatic bed bug

buster": two blocks of wood, with leather

hand-holders—one for the right hand, one for the left.

Simply place the bug between the blocks and "bust

'im." Didn't sell! Another device was intended to

cure snoring. Some inventive hand had simply unraveled a trumpet

and attached it to a head harness. The sleeper could strap the

mouthpiece to the lips with the big end of the trumpet to the

ear. When his amplified snore thundered in his ear, he woke

himself. My wife, Carolyn, has been looking for one for me!

An observer of this event said

that his laughter died when it dawned on him that he was not

listening to 100,000 jokes, but witnessing 100,000 broken dreams.

People had invested lifetimes into some of those contraptions.

But the inventors had died with broken dreams!

When I drive across the plains

and spot one of those lonely, abandoned old houses on the

horizon, the collapsing fence corralling a yard of tumbleweed,

windows boarded up or gaping empty, I often feel a tug at my

heartstrings over the wreckage of someone's broken dreams.

Maybe just now you have looked

away from this page and, with a lump in your throat, recalled a

broken dream: failed health, a promotion that never came, a

shattered romance, a marriage gone sour, a business gone

belly-up, a child who went wrong. Most of us will face broken

dreams now and again.

After fifty-seven years of

living, nearly forty of them in ministry, I know plenty of

shattered dreams firsthand. In fact, I think that somewhere along

the way, at least for a while, my own Church of Christ

fellowship, like many others, lost its dreams.

Dying dreams

A brief look at the struggle

for growth in Churches of Christ provides insight not only for my

fellowship, but for many others as well. In 1865 The Baltimore

American, one of the leading newspapers in the country in those

days, said the Churches of Christ were "the fastest growing

denomination in America, beginning only about forty years ago,

but numbering now, in the United States alone, over six hundred

thousand communicants."

Just think. From 1815-1865,

zero to six hundred thousand in only forty years! In 1865, we

were a church on the cutting edge of the culture. But not so


Somewhere between the 1860s and

the 1950s, we began dreaming big dreams. As recently as the 1960s

we believed the trend was continuing. We were told that from 1865

to 1960 solid growth continued. We said we were still the fastest

growing religious group in the country. My college buddies and I

dreamed of "taking the world." Our flagship

congregation of that day, the Madison Church of Christ in

Nashville, was growing explosively! The Herald of Truth (a Church

of Christ radio outreach ministry) broadcasts blanketed the

globe. Campus ministries flourished. Our foreign missionaries

topped six hundred. The media were beginning to notice us. It was

the dawning of a new age, and we were part of a movement that

would change the planet! Oh, how we dreamed!

Then, somewhere around 1965, as

was the trend in many denominations, our growth statistics

flattened until 1970, when they dived into a freefall toward

oblivion. Many of our nose-counters and number-crunchers

predicted that, if those trends continued, Churches of Christ

could well disappear early in the twenty-first century. Although

figures compiled by Mac Lynn of David Lipscomb University show a

net gain of some 3 percent between 1980 and 1990, there is little

cause for celebration. First, those statistics included the

fast-growing Boston-based group now known as the International

Churches of Christ, not really a part of our fellowship, and this

skewed the figures considerably. Second, during that period, baby

boomers who had left began bringing their babies back to church.

But George Barna's research shows they left again in the

late 1980s. Thirdly, the population grew by 10 percent, and we

have fallen far below those percentages. So at best our growth

statistics have only flat-lined. We are scarcely on the road to

real recovery.

In some states, we ended the

decade smaller by scores of thousands. Throughout the last

decade, as I have visited churches, lectureships, and conferences

across the continent, almost everywhere I go, tired voices tell

me stories of mega efforts yielding meager growth. Our dreams

were shattered! Speaking of Churches of Christ, in 1991 Flavil

Yeakley (a researcher at Harding University who periodically does

a nose count among Churches of Christ) said, "I don't

know of any of our older, larger mainline churches that are

growing by evangelism."

Yes, some congregations are

growing, but very few by reaching unchurched people. Rather, some

are "swelling" by consolidating the fallout from

failing, dying churches and collecting bodies at the front edge

of demographic shifts. As for reaching the unchurched world, most

churches are not getting bigger, but smaller. If that were not

sad enough, large numbers of our children are leaving the Church

of Christ movement or even abandoning the faith altogether. Many

other Christian fellowships appear to have suffered similar


Not all is bleak, however.

David A. Roozen and C. Kirk Hadaway, in research hot off the

press found that some long established churches are now

growing—and part of the growth is coming through evangelism.

John Ellas, of the Center for Church Growth, has recently

discovered good news among Churches of Christ that parallel the

findings of Roozen and Hadaway. Some Churches of Christ, fifteen

years old and older, are now growing, and a significant part of

that growth appears to result from evangelistic activity.

However, these churches are (1) updating their evangelistic

strategies and (2) viewing evangelism as a process involving the

whole congregational system, not merely as an independent

"branch" activity of the congregation. This gives me

hope. Older churches can change. Established churches can grow.

But, at best, we have a long way to go.

A lot of our preachers have

lost their dream, too. Some have even thrown in the towel! At a

conference in the mid 1980s, I spotted an old friend leaning

against the wall, alone, though in a crowded room, staring at the

floor, his eyes as vacant as last year's bird's nest.

When I asked what was wrong, it seemed as though he took five

minutes to drag his eyes up from the floor to mine. Then he spoke

for a lot of us, "Lynn, I've lost my dream. What do you

do without dreams?" He was only one of hundreds who

represent a lost generation of ministers in the Churches of

Christ. I find precious few of my mid-fifties peers who are still

in the ministry. Dreams died. Many burned out or gave up. But as

William Willomon says, "Burnout in ministry is not usually

from overwork, but from under-meaning." Christian leaders

can live with the work, the flack, and the frustration; but we

can't live without dreams.

He may live on by compact

and plan

When the fine bloom of

living is shed,

But God pity the little

that's left of a man

When the last of his dreams

is dead.

Empty churches

A few summers ago, I sat one

afternoon on the balcony of a Swiss chalet in the company of

several American and European businessmen, eavesdropping on their

shop talk. A British fellow piqued my curiosity when he said he

decorated the interiors of bars and restaurants in Canada and the

United States with the guts of old churches from Europe.

I said, "You're

kidding me!"

"Why, no," he

boasted, "One bar in Abilene, Texas, has two churches in

it!" (I could have told him about some other bars where the

churches seemed to have strong representation, but thought the

better of it.)

"Really," I marveled,

"Have you been doing this for some time?"

"Oh, about ten or twelve

years, now."

"Aw c'mon, how many

have you done?" (I was thinking maybe one a year.)

"Oh, some months as many

as eleven, some less."

Now I'm not quick with

numbers, but it didn't take me long to figure out that he

had trashed a lot of churches. I was stunned! "Where in the

world do you find all those empty churches?"

"Oh, my friend," the

young Englishman beamed, "This man John Wesley has been dead

for over a century, but he is making me a millionaire. He

traveled all over the British Isles. He got off his horse at

nearly every crossroads and preached. By the time he was in the

saddle again, they were building a chapel in his tracks. They

built 'em big and they furnished 'em well all over the

UK." He went on: "That was then. But now their great,

great-grandchildren, the young folks in Great Britain,

aren't interested in that sort of thing anymore. Those old

chapels stand empty 'cept for memories. So the descendants

build these little chapels on the corner of the property to house

memorabilia. To pay upkeep on the chapels, they sell the guts of

the old buildings to me, put the shell to the wrecking ball and

the land to the realtor."

He rambled on, but my addled

thoughts spun off into another world. By bedtime I still

couldn't shake the picture of all those empty churches. I

lay awake wondering how long before all those buildings from our

boom years, back when growth surged and dreams flourished, would

gradually grow quiet, stand empty, and then fall to the wrecking

crew. My dreams were dying. What do you do, when the last of your

dreams is dead? Oh, what do you do?

Let him show a brave face

if he can;

Let him woo fame and

fortune instead;

But there's little to

do but to bury a man

When the last of his dreams

is dead.

—From "To Dream


The winds of change whipped our

dreams away. Will they whip us away, too? Will they tumble us out

of sight across the plains of the future?

Did you shift in your chair and

say, "Lynn, I thought you were a messenger of hope; you

sound more like a prophet of gloom and doom?" Well, now we

are ready to talk hope. Listen to the winds whisper from the



Excerpted from Navigating the Winds of Change by Lynn Anderson Copyright © 1994 by Lynn Anderson. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Prologue Facing the Chill Winds of Change
Section One: Why Change?


Shattered Dreams


What Went Wrong?


Why Change?
Section Two: Is Change Possible?


You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks
Section Three: What Must Never Change
5 Form Follows Function: Theological Foundations
6 Life Spans: Respecting the Past
Section Four: What Must Surely Change
7 A Church That Connects
8 Right-Branded Christians in a Left-Branded Church
9 Music That Makes Sense
Section Five: The Art of Change Management
10 Minimizing Chaos
11 Getting Change Into Your System
12 Transition or Just Change?
13 Changing Perceptions
14 Conversation: Windows Into Perceptions
Section Six: Results of Change
15 To Dream Again


A God of Surprises

Appendix A

Resources on Change Agency

Appendix B

Resources on Worship

Appendix C

Resources on the Church

Appendix D

Resources on Music


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