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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About the Author
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 BooksCopyright © 1994 Lynn Anderson
All right reserved.
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
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 dreamerever!
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
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-holdersone 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.
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
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
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
growingand 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
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
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
"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
"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
But there's little to
do but to bury a man
When the last of his dreams
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?|
|What Went Wrong?|
|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|
|11||Getting Change Into Your System|
|12||Transition or Just Change?|
|14||Conversation: Windows Into Perceptions|
|Section Six:||Results of Change|
|15||To Dream Again|
|A God of Surprises|
|Resources on Change Agency|
Resources on Worship
|Resources on the Church|
|Resources on Music|