The term "sacred
cow" has become a popular phrase to describe the dilemma
facing us in today's business world and in today's church. A sacred
cow is any belief, assumption, practice, policy, system, or strategy
that no longer works but is nevertheless continued because of
an unwillingness to change. Identifying these sacred cows is the
first step in managing change. As I put it in last month's leadership
article: "The key to good leadership is to discern when and
how to change."
However, the recognition of what needs to be changed
and the desire to implement the change is not enough. Many plans
for change fail. Between the vision of what needs to be done and
the implementation of the plan, roadblocks appear which prevent
change from occurring. So how can we manage change?
Step # 2: WE NEED TO RECOGNIZE THE BARRIERS
People are naturally resistant to change because change is usually
evaluated as a loss. To implement change in the congregation,
we must move people past this natural resistance. Why are some
people in the church so resistant to change?
Sometimes it is a communication problem. The people
don't understand what needs to be done. In this case, a plan for
more effective communication can be developed.
Sometimes it is a financial problem. The people don't
see evidence of the necessary resources to complete the task.
In this case, a financial plan, perhaps with some up front pledges,
can be presented to the church.
Sometimes it is a personality problem. The people don't
like the person who is initiating the change. In this case, different
leadership can be enlisted. If the pastor is the person who is
the problem, change will not occur until the pastor is able to
work through some of these relationship problems.
Sometimes it is an emotional problem. The people are
attached to a building they don't want to be replaced or a location
which they don't want to leave or a ministry in which they have
vested interest. In this case, the positive benefits of the change
have to be more effectively presented.
The list can go on and on but the point is the same. We must
recognize what the barrier is before we can adequately deal with
As you try to determine the barriers to change in your church
or organization, consider the following suggestions given by Robert
Kriegel in his book, Sacred Cows Make the Best Burgers.
Robert Kriegel identifies four resistance drivers, each of which
is a powerful force for the status quo.
- FEAR: “What if …I lose my job, look stupid, etc.”
- FEELING POWERLESS: ”No one asked me!”
- INERTIA: “It’s too much effort.”
- ABSENCE OF SELF INTEREST: “What’s in it for me?”
Recognizing these barriers to change is the second step in managing
(The third step next month)