The Art of Sacred Cow Tipping

Change! Every ministry, church, and organization faces the challenges associated with creating change. The big question is HOW. Brad Powell articulates some good thoughts in his book, Change Your Church for Good: The Art of Sacred Cow Tipping. Rather than giving you a roadmap on how to change, I want to give you three valuable “change thoughts” from Powell’s book that are especially helpful for more traditional settings:

1. “You’ve got to kill what’s killing you, but you can let what isn’t killing you die of natural causes.” This is a great insight. Sometimes the best strategy for creating change is to step back and watch the “program” die on its own. Powell says, “If something’s hurting the church, it must be removed. On the other hand, if something’s not helping the church, it doesn’t need to be so aggressively eliminated. It can be left to die on its own.” Change the things that are killing the church or creating a negative impact.

2. “While it’s true that the church must establish points of relevance for outsiders, it is not true that every point of relevance for insiders should be removed.” In the midst of change, insiders need a certain level of security. Not changing everything at one time can facilitate a sense of safety. At the same time, some areas don’t need to be changed because they are not off-mission or irrelevant. Change what must be changed. One example Powell gave–they changed their Sunday morning service but left their adult classes alone.

3. “Change doesn’t happen when you announce it. Change grows.” Leaders must always be thinking ahead by planting “seeds in the present for future change.” Powell planted many of these seeds when he was being interviewed for the job. And when he became pastor, he continued planting seeds for years. Powell states, “Though not always possible, the general rule is that the bigger and more difficult the change, the further ahead the seed should be planted.”

Questions: Which of these three thoughts is most helpful to you? Why? What other change strategies have proven beneficial in your leadership journey?