Healthy Leadership Strategies Through Change Webinar


Transcript:

Greetings, it’s excellent to be with you all. Brother Kevin, it’s an honor to have this conversation and I’m looking forward to it. Really.

I think this topic is an excellent topic by the recipients, by the participation that we’re finding online.

We know that it is one that’s on the hearts of many and so we’re going to look at change. I’m gonna set up the topic here tonight, with some objectives.

So our objectives there on the left side of the screen, briefly talk about the existence of change. What is it? And this is intended just to kind of set the foundation or what it is we’re talking about. Even though I think we all know but that will just kind of stir our minds to that end. The nature of change, how does change work looking into that particular element. And then moving on to the effect of change.

How does it affect people? A change is affecting people and I think that’s largely why we’re interested in the topic as individuals at leadership role. And then finally the management of change or how do we lead through change. in looking at two sub points of that as the personal work and also corporate work as a leader and I would also like to say that that we’re gonna probably start to we’re gonna spend increasing time on each one. So spending some brevity time would be brief on the first ones and hopefully dedicating more time to the latter one. So just so everybody’s clear a little bit about our roles. I will lead the conversation looking to brother Kevin to to provide some thoughts and I will also keep an eye on the clock because we’ve had some wonderful questions submitted and brother Kevin you’ve seen those questions and they are largely in that last bucket. And so we want to honor that we know that individuals are coming on with a heart towards that but there is some setup that we wish to do.

Am I also might say to the questions that have been offered which it’s just excellent questions being offered. I’m gonna I’m gonna pull out two subsets of questions that we’re not going to address tonight and simply for clarity’s sake so our expectations are managed. They were excellent questions and they fit very much in this presentation, but it’s too much for us. One is change within minister teams. Okay, um, excellent questions about transitioning and that type of thing, not going to be necessarily the center of of what we address here today, but a mental note to our team that perhaps that would be an excellent webinar to have.

And the second one would be, discerning good change and whether it’s good or bad and whether it should be or should not be undertaken. This would be touched on at some level but is not going to be a deep dive into discerning change, but rather when change is upon us, how do we deal with it. So that might gauge a little bit or help guide a little bit of what we might hear tonight.

So, Brother Kevin I had to put this picture on here right just to give a nod to that that New England and notoriety right of the leaves that are changing, and you’ve encouraged me to come out to the east coast when that happens. But I think this is really an excellent picture of change because who doesn’t love this scene and who is not who you know, we love the changing of the leaves, yet it heralds a change that maybe we didn’t we’re not so excited about right and that’s wintertime. And so even with change we have mixed emotions and I think that’s going to come out tonight too about what change and how we handle change, in view change.

To give our listeners a little bit of maybe understanding how these webinars come about, I have constructed the slides, slide deck here, but it’s happened by way of conversation rather Arlan and I sat down via Zoom with Brother Kevin and just walk through this topic and listen to his heart and this slide that kind of comes out of that. So, I will be preempting some questions to Brother Kevin and I’m gonna do that here with the next slide, which is beautiful scene of a shepherd. Brother Kevin, you like to use some illustrations to make I think an important point about change, and I would like you to share the three stories of shepherds to do that tonight.

Yeah, thanks Brother Matt, I appreciate that. I do at times consider myself a bit of a storyteller. So just bear with me for maybe five minutes is an introduction here.

But before I tell this story I’d like to set the reference for my discussion or at least this account, which is St John 10, the second verse which reminds us. This is the words the Lord, of course.

“But he that enters in by the door is the Shepherd of the Sheep.” and when we consider our service all of us here and together. When we consider our service to the church, to the Lord’s souls that he has purchased; we need to consider what are the changes that are happening in our lives, our society and then in our corporate worship.

I also think it’s important that we remember that this this verse says, “he that entereth in by the doors the shepherd of the sheep.” So, the charge is not only to the elder or the ordained deacon or the minister. It really is a charge to anyone who’s converted, who’s been purchased through Christ’s blood that we have a responsibility for each other spiritual welfare and our spiritual health. So, a little parable about three shepherds, all of whom inherited a healthy flock of sheep.

The first shepherd was very concerned for his sheep and very attentive to his pasture. He cared about his flock and he made sure that it was protected with fences and gates that were strong and sturdy. The shepherd was very cautious. He kept the sheep in the center of the pasture. He didn’t like it when the sheep went stuck their noses through the fences, into the neighboring fields, to try out the forage that was beyond his own. Over time, however, the sheep overworked their home pasture and started to wear it out. It became worn and the variety of grasses actually weakened and because of this the sheep became restless and ill.

And they pressed their noses through the fence more to even more to reach their neighboring fields. The shepherd himself became anxious and made his fence as stronger. He locked the gates tighter and patrolled the sheep even more often to keep them from wandering over into that neighboring pasture. Over time however, his flock became lethargic. The birth rate of twins and triplets fell and many of them stood still, and they just ate from the same spot in their own pasture and hardly moved around. This was not providing good nutrition. However, an illness started to spread through the flock.

The second shepherd, he was a progressive herdsman. He too cared for the sheep was very interested in what good grasses and varieties he might actually find in the neighboring He kept them moving around and he fed them with variety. He actually wasn’t all that concerned when this when the sheep started to push through the fence and stick their heads over and in fact, he was somewhat positive about it because he started to think this might be a sign that they were in need of some new grasses to feed on.

So when he saw this starting to happen, he decided to give them a taste of that neighboring grass and he left the gate open a little, so the sheep might have a chance to try it out. He himself actually went out into the neighboring field to look around and the sheep followed him through the gate. And as they were doing that they did so with a spring in their step they were excited. They started moving around to try out all that new fresh grass. And at first they looked happy healthy with all that new food. But some of that grass was so rich and it was so new that those sheep couldn’t digest it well. And in time they started the bloat.

In fact, they were suffocating on all that new forage and were so excited about it. However, they didn’t even hear their shepherd’s voice calling them back into the home pasture when he realized that they had they had gone too far and spread out too wide and all those new fields. It was no longer safe. They themselves could not discern the change in their own health. So they became so scattered in their excitement that that shepherd couldn’t collect them soon enough to prevent some of them from becoming ill and others lost in the tall weeds of that meadow.

The third shepherd, he was a cautious man, but he was also aware. And he was aware of good things that might be available outside of his own fields and he knew in time and through time that his sheep would need to move into some new pasture. But he also knew that they could not do that too quickly. They still needed to eat from their home pasture which was a safe and healthy place while they were learning to digest new food from the neighboring fields. Before the sheep started getting two inches and pushing too much through the fences and too often the shepherd went and looked over the neighboring pasture. He would sometimes bring back some of the grass from that pasture to let them try it out. Not a lot but enough. He used his time before his own field became too barren to quietly extend some of his own home pasture with new fences into that neighboring meadow. So he could bring the sheep close, keep the sheep close, while introducing the change in forage from the best of the surrounding land. He brought them out to the new grasses, but also back into the home ground, rotating new with old. His caution and his awareness and not trampling home pasture and not opening the gates so wide the flock gorge themselves, was a successful strategy to introduce the change while valuing the familiar. And in doing this that third shepherd kept the flock together, the sheep healthy and the pasture was fresh.

I’m no expert. I’ve had a number of years of experience and in this little parable I could see myself in each one of these situations, at times. And so I think as we enter into discussion, it’s good to remember that in any of in any of our responsibilities and shepherding the flock, we are going to make mistakes, at times.

And we are going to do things well at times. And we may fit the role of either of these three shepherds at various points. So Matt, that’s just a little intro. At least my I and I think it said. It speaks wonderfully. It speaks wonderfully to the tension that I think all the participants feel in this moment of this tension between change that we know is good for the flock and yet change that we know would be detrimental. And navigating that and managing just as a third shepherd did is inspiring, so I really appreciate that and that does set up beautifully what it is we’re talking about. So, as we talk about the existence of change, where is it? Well, it’s in a lot of places and far more than these mentioned, certainly the bottom right technology is booming and it’s hard to keep up with the change and that regard. Relationships are changing with losses and people in and out of life. Relationships are changing, society is changing in in many ways. Ideologies are changing our ideas or are even opinions on certain matters change through life and then that and then the church certainly that’s the catalyst or the overlap of our time here as we think about leaders in churches. Certainly, there’s change that pertains to that as well.

So, you know what context, further context would you want to provide brother Kevin, as you frame up tonight’s topic thinking about change and where it’s at in the day and age that we live.

Well, a couple thoughts first of all, it just happened. I spent last Thursday and Friday, last week Saint Petersburg, Florida, professionally with a group of executives from about eight companies and about six different industries. And you could ask, you could have the same conversation with them, right, the pace of the change in their industries is too much. Young people coming into the workforce, they don’t know how to work with them. They just they don’t understand them. Technology is causing them to have people that they are managing from India, the Philippines, eastern and western Europe, and hardly even have opportunity to see those people any longer because they can’t travel since COVID. Nobody’s really in an office and they’re just lamenting all of this. Technology has a role, the relationships that they had even three years ago, let alone a decade ago are significantly different, and so we think somehow that, we may think I shouldn’t really say how everybody on this on this webinar thinks, but it could be easy for us to think that there’s something unique about all of this to us and it’s not, it’s not unique.

Our church is experiencing the disruption from changes in all of those things on that slide, but so is, so is society. The other thing I would offer technology is a catalyst for change. No question about it, right? people will say well a pace of change is too fast. Yes, that is a fact.

It is too fast. We are probably not we know, we are not conditioned to multitask but we all try to do it one way or another. We weren’t even created to do that. So technology’s the catalyst, but it’s not the problem. We are still the problem, what we are doing, our reaction to it all, that’s what’s causing the problems. Whether that’s becoming short fused with our own friends, family, congregants, spouse or, it’s not technologies fault. We cannot blame it because if we blame it, we’re going to start looking to it for the solution. And that’s not where the solution lies, lies obviously first with our with our Lord, with our faith. But it lies it lies a lot in a lot of ways with within each other.

The last point I would really like to make on the slide, Brother Matt is on the relationships. And I guess if I were to say anything tonight, I would want someone to walk away remembering it, I guess. It would be this, that especially within the Brotherhood and I mean that both brothers and sisters and friends, faithful friends of the church, children; the person, whether that’s your Elder, a minister, brother and sister, or a teenage kid in Sunday School; the person who thinks differently than I do or adapts or adopts change differently than I do new things differently and I do that person is not the enemy. They are not the enemy. And we don’t have to look too far anywhere in the world today, but certainly in our own society to see the maliciousness, the polarization, the disruption to good. We don’t want to follow that path. We want to find ways to adopt and adapt to what’s happening in our church and our families that keep our relationships and keep our our flocks and ourselves healthy.

Those would be the thoughts I have on this slide. Now, you.

Really appreciate that and in I appreciate the normalization you’ve brought to this topic. I think that times we can think that oh things are out of control. But all of time has known change. I can only imagine the printing press to inaugurate change like it at a rate that they had never seen before and so we find ourselves, yes and in a recent area era but not necessarily new.

No, I don’t think it was new. If you think from the hundred years’ war to the persecution that happened in about 50 AD to the scattering of believers from Jerusalem, all throughout the Mediterranean to World War II and probably some of our parents, grandparents. Sure. Went off the war with not being heard from, mail was slow and but the rate of it all in today’s society the the ubiquity. And the unending cycle of it being all night all day. Yeah, that’s probably somewhat new. So I think we’ve got acknowledge it. It’s not gonna change either. For sure. Well, let’s let’s look then at the nature of change and how does it work? You know, we make decisions for or against things based on a perceived loss or gain if I’m going to change a job or if I’m going to change a house, you know, what are the losses? What are the gains? What’s what are the stresses? That’s putting putting that change before me. Am I? How am I responding to stress?

So, I’ve got a camera lens here, Brother Kevin, let’s go ahead and look at a real-life example, you know in the last three years video cameras for example have become common in our sanctuaries. Let’s use this issue as a case study. You’ve been in elder discussions for a long time. And so, I’m sure you’ve had conversations around video cameras. So, what can you tell us about the nature of change and let’s use this as an example.

Yeah, thanks. It’s it’s a good one. So, I believe I’m accurate in this, but someone could check it out. There’s a confidential record of all Elder meetings. The very first time that the Elder Body discussed using a video presentation of the general conference was in 1987. I was a minister, the conference that year was actually in Rockville. And one of the thoughts was now there was no internet in 1987. So, it would have been a close circuit TV production to a number of congregations Connecticut to the Midwest. So, the people could congregate at the Midwest in various places and see the general conference while they heard it. That was a big stretch for church leadership. Now we can and I can do we can look back at that and laugh almost chuckle. It was discussed again when things like the internet came into being in the mid to late 90s, or at least the technology would have allowed even more not just dial in service for services and it was a very difficult thing for church leadership to say,

Is there a great need here? This would be disruptive. How do we manage it? Who manages it? How much will this really impact who we are as preachers. There was good reasonable, sound questions. And then ultimately a decision not to pursue it at that time. But when COVID hit, we did it with lightning speed, didn’t we. So, and well done, right. And Now I don’t know about every congregation, most congregations I’m aware of have said you know what, we had to do it. The disruption was not so disturbing, it wasn’t disturbing at all. There was some good reason and benefit for it. And we’ve kept that even as we’ve been able to reassemble together. At least I would venture most of us have. So, you know what prompts it when it gets adopted sometimes how, can be circumstantial. and

Frankly, I would have been open to it in the 1990s personally. I would have been open to it. But it would have been pretty ridiculous on my part to push my way through especially as a new Elder, at the time, and not really understanding all things, so I was patient, I waited, I asked the question.

And I think the right decision was made, in time, the need outweighed the caution and we were able to move quickly. I think it’s an excellent example of losses and gains, perceived losses and gains, as well as stresses; COVID provided a stress that that somewhat trumped the other stresses right and and launched launch change. So this is simply just you know, how does how does change work and I think thinking through the lens of losses and gains and realizing that everybody is is experience either a loss or a game which leads us now really to the effect that has on people, now we’re getting closer to that shepherd heart, right, as we as we help people.

I’ve got a number of bullets there not really needing to to go through each one brother Kevin, but just I’ll just to note them. You know change is comfort to one person yet discomfort to another. Change is control to one and loss of control. Well, whatever it’s a game to one and loss to another right and so we have these we have these.

This this is the speak to how it affects people. So let’s go back to that very example, someone said to me, I’m not sure it’s good that we’ve kept video and I’m gonna I’m not sure it’s good that we kept video.

Does that make it easier to stay home? Does that make it easier not to attend church, in various times? And the answer that question is, yeah probably does.

Right, so nothing is so binary that it is either completely good or completely bad. We we must use these things with wisdom. We must have some measure of trust in people that if I’m using the opportunity to use a online access to worship the Lord and forgo the ability to be in congregate with other believers. Then Zoom isn’t the problem there either. There’s something else happening. So we, I think we need to assess these things, objectively as we can and also recognize we understand that some of the brothers and sisters in our churches, they may live with the change. Or they may struggle with the pace of the changes that are happening. And we just can’t discount that either. We don’t have the right to just run over that either.

When it’s reasonable and respectful, you know. When I hear. Stress and stress and conflict and change, they travel together. They they go together.

Those things, I’m sorry interrupt. No. I know I appreciate that. Yeah, and what I hear though, even as in the heart of a leader is has an awareness about people and how they are going to react to that and in all of these nuanced ways. And that would go into one’s thinking about how do I lead this group knowing that some are comforted by this change and others have discomfort, some feel this is a gain others feel. This is a lost some are optimistic about this and some are gonna have a lot of fear. That is a part of our our knowledge in our understanding of how people are going to be affected. Can I give you another example as you move?

Yeah.

Next slide in this I know we talked about it. You may have it prompted, reforming in another. But 23 years ago, the Elder body approved yet another revision of our Zion’s Harp hymnal. It was undertaken by a group of brothers might have been some sisters, but I think some brothers involved from across the congregations, they were exceptionally cautious. They took a lot of time. They have the they had the expertise. They understood new music. I was privileged to be part of the Elder, representative of the Elder body, that worked with him not certainly not because I sing well or understand music, but I’m not sure why but somehow I was asked to be part of that. It was a fascinating experience.

To this day once in a while someone will say to me. I miss the old melody. And maybe there’s a song too that I missed the old melody, but I think if we if we really look at this we sing out of more hymns today in that Hymnal than we did prior to that revision. Was that revision perfect, was at the end all, absolutely no,t but it was done with with respect, with caution, with the guidance of church leadership, with brothers who understood and sisters, I’m sure who understood, music and had the expertise. And the end result has been, it’s no longer an item of controversy, many of us probably have forgotten. We went through a major revision of that hymnal 23 years ago. It’s very relevant. I think most of you are surely aware the Elder body is or in the process or has a is a proving a new Hymnal to be considered for use in our worship.

The same I see and frankly in at times within myself, I can sense that level of anxiety about that the introduction of of change. The introduction of new hymns. What are they going to be like? and yet my past experience has tempered my current behavior. And I do think that that’s a strategy, I can go back to the title of our talk.

Let’s look back. We can learn a lot from things that we went through in the past. And there may be opportunity to talk some more. I’m a fearful I’m talking too much Matt. So, you know, I know that’s excellent. Actually. It’s a wonderful transition as we really talk about management because you really spoke there about knowing yourself and having had experiences and knowing yourself and that’s really as we think about management of change and how do we lead through it.

In our conversations, brother Kevin, you placed a large emphasis on knowing yourself.

I’d like you to expand on that. These are all prompts that you would supply, speak to any of these prompts and why they are important to know yourself and as a leader, what effect does that have on us? And how’s that helpful in managing change? Yeah, appreciate that I am. I think we must know what, what event, or what environment or what specific item of change that is confronting our church. Pushes us, naturally, to be the first shepherd. Who wants to batten down the hatches. Or the second Shepherd that just wants to say hey, this is good. Let’s just go. Let’s open this gate. Let’s let these sheep have this.

And probably all of us want to be but it takes a lot of knowing what’s really motivating me, in the moment in order for me to be that effective third shepherd in in my in my care and my and for the sheep. I can remember there was a time, I was visiting with another elder brother, and we were working through our whole discussion around reinstatement and restoration and how how does the work of the Lord in a believer’s life that’s run into difficulty and found themselves in the tall grass or the thorns and the briars and needed to have someone go out and rescue them, right. So, how do we how do we teach that? How do we think about that? What’s. I remember visiting with a brother and and I was really focused on my relationship with the Lord and how I viewed that and so was he and all of a sudden I realized that for me in my personality, thinking about Jesus as that advocate at the right hand of God, making his case for me in the times where that you can call them sins, transition, error, mistakes you use whatever word you want but we mean kind of the same thing. Don’t we and that other brother, in his personal relationship with the Lord, he really, it just it wore, it moved him to think of the Savior hanging on the cross suspended between heaven and earth.

And you know we both were experiencing the good, right. We both were experiencing, right? So only till I come to the point where I really could hear that brother but I really understand his point, but I really understand why he was saying what he was saying, why he was viewing the discussion the way he was viewing.

And when I understood myself and I assumed good intent in my brother,

Only then really could I really grasp, you know only it’s kind of that’s the opening to wisdom, right? Because if I’m just forcefully saying what I think, all I’m doing at that point is repeating what I already know. I’m not learning anything new; you know. And look in my 30 years, is 30 some years as an elder, I could give you a long list of brothers, I could give you a long list of sisters, who are important to me, who think differently than me, and who can say to me, “I think you’re wrong, I think you need to see yourself.”

And I can listen to them. There’s some I can’t I’ll be honest with Matt, you know, we all need people in our life that can do that.

And they need to be people who think differently. Than we think and they need to be people who have experiences different than my own.

Um, and then the last point just really speaks again to assuming good content, are good intent, if I am mistrustful of leadership, of my co-labor, whether that’s the brother sitting next to me on the pulpit or whether that is the brothers and the pulpit in the congregation, well, we don’t have a congregation ten miles down the road. But those of you along Route 24, you know, you can you can get my point so.

And then how willing am I to adjust, as time goes on. There’s been a lot of adjustment and good adjustment in the Apostolic Christian Church, from the willingness to immigrate to a new country, to the willingness to ¬†accept the use of a new language, for the benefit of young people, the willingness to the 1930s to allow young brothers to shave their beards, even though there was a real disruption to a willingness now in our time to leave that the growing of a beard to personal discretion. We’ve gone through both avenues, so there’s a lot of examples that that we have in

our history that apply to some of the very things that are confronting us today. And no one should run roughshod into change and no one should lock down the gates so tight for a personal preference of change that we’re not able to hear each other anymore.

I, you know the third parable that you shared there at the outset on that that third shepherd was different than the first two because he was so thoughtful about managing that change in in this determining when it should happen, the pace for which it would happen, and there was an openness and a knowing of oneself and I see some of these prompts to be helpful to that end that I might need help seeing blind spots. For example, I might need help seeing things differently, maybe I am either for change or resistant to change because of my personality, you know. More than than my my Bible knowledge. I just give you a simple example.

I have realized that I like I like. I bought an old house brother Kevin. I buy an old house. I like old things. I like the old ways and this came to me at one point in discussion of change and those types of things and I realized oh I am, I have a personality, who doesn’t like change so and that’s helpful for me to know because that’s not necessarily righteousness that I that I like antiques, but it runs in myself and in my thinking and so I think these questions do a nice job of helping me do diligence and all of us do diligence and thinking carefully so that we can be that third shepherd.

I would like to can I be very open with just one thought I would like to share and again this comes from 30 plus years in the eldership. And it is a reflection of the environment today that is very different than it was certainly when I was first ordained and there are other brothers, maybe some on this call that are that are my peers. So, I’m not I hope I don’t anyway sound as if I’m some sort of authority or in anyway. But I would really that the second to the last bullet point here, I would just really encourage all of us on this call and in any way that anybody on this call can help the congregation; we are living in a time where the independent spirit in America has grown epaxially, from it was in the 1990s. Individualism. Personal conviction. Some of that’s good. I’m not saying it isn’t. But we’re not, so unwise that we wouldn’t say that some of it is not healthy. And one of the things I see at least as I look at some of our newer elders, I guess I can use the word younger. I’m 66. So, some are younger elders? I’m really concerned they’re being churned up. They’re being churned up, by various pressures from all sides. I had a conversation, you know when we came, when we reassembled and many of our churches from COVID, there were changes to lunchtime. And look I had my opinion too. I do and I don’t like change either Brother Matt, you know. And someone was churning and just talking to me and I said, “I want to get this straight, we’re called to preach about a Savior who had no place to lay his head. And we’re getting all stirred up about where, when and who serves us a really nice snack or sandwich or whatever it is.” “And I got this right?” And what is that one except our own comfort taking a huge place in our emotional makeup? And the brother said “well, no, that’s not the point.” And I said, “no that’s exactly the point.” And I see a need that we, those of us on this call, who have responsibility that we extend some trust that your co-laborers, your elder brothers, they are very diligently trying to lead with a sensitivity for everybody’s needs.

And something that can look so easy player and plain to me may not to someone else and he is called to be a shepherd to both. And I say all that with full knowledge that I haven’t lived up to my own advice at times, so.

Yah, really appreciate that, really appreciate that a lot brother Kevin. Thanks for sharing that and I think all the participants on the call having many of us gone through COVID, in leadership, can very well relate to being in the position of calling the shot and making the decision and opinions are cheap. And when you don’t have to make the decision, um, you can have an opinion, sometimes it’s more difficult when you have to make the decision to have the opinion because of all that you carry, and I think you capture that with thinking about the entire flock and what that looks like. I’d like to go now to this final slide.

Um, brother Kevin, I think this really applies to some of the questions that we’ve learned we’ve come across here from the participants. Now we’ve done the personal work, that was the previous slide, the management of change, how do we lead through it now? We’re gonna think about doing it corporately and I’m gonna you’ve mentioned the beard already and can I bring up a specific moment in time. And I remember at the Eureka conference some years back you gave one of the Brotherhood conference talks and you address the beard. And that was at a time that people were starting to wear beards and yet there was some confusion about that. There was some uneasiness about that. And some work was later going to be done or some statements were going to be later made.

But I felt like you gave you, you gave a talk, and I would love that if you remember what I’m talking about, I’d be glad for you to look at these points here. Because I felt like that was a moment and that was an issue where there was leading through some group dynamics, and there was leading through accommodating change and yet cautious at the same time. What can you share using that particular matter as an example?

Yeah, I appreciate it. I don’t think, this can still be a little bit of a touchy subject among brother, some of us are really fine and it moved on and others are just saying what the world took you so long. And other brothers are saying that was a big mistake. I understand that.

But I was also aware that back in the 1930s, there was a discussion in the in the Elder body, at the time young brothers were shaving their beards, it was an expectation of the church membership that when someone reached a certain age, they would a man would grow a beard. And it was actually brother Eli Dotterer who was Elder in Junction, Ohio, at the time, and he had a beard, he wore a beard. And after a while as the discussion went on and the thought was well, maybe we need to reprimand in some way these young brothers for doing that. He spoke up and he said brothers we can’t do that. That’s not that’s not the scriptural response to this. And wisely the Elder body didn’t and of course shortly thereafter World War II came on the scene and the influence of American society which pushed the respectability, the everything from the military then to the huge corporate um expansion it took place in our country in the 1950s, that prompted a clean shaven look and equated that with certain values and society which our church aligned, with respect and for authority, and clean shaven and respect for good order and there was a binding of those together. Things have changed. I’m not always comfortable with that personal change, I grew up in the 1970s. There was some of that but when that when the discussions came, and we saw that there was a movement to accept this among good sound believing brothers in the Lord.

The Elder body opened the discussion, and I gave a preamble at the conference in Eureka, that you mentioned brother Matt, not stating any position, but just asking some questions, hopefully that would lead to an understanding of where the Elder body was headed.

But I want you to know I read that verbatim to the entire Elder body before I ever said that publicly. I didn’t just unilaterally make those statements that certainly would have an influence on the discussion because it was me just because it was a general conference. But I did read that, I said brothers you need to be, we need to gather to be comfortable with this. It’s moving us in the direction that our conversations are taking but it’s gonna, it’s telegraphing to the church where our conversations are going.

And it would have been presumptuous at best in a far more wrong than that for me to have just done that unilaterally on my own. My point in this being that a 1930, the change was in one direction and 2000 or whatever it was, the change was in a completely the opposite direction. But the decision of the Elder body was the same. We don’t go beyond the Scripture. And it was wise and proven to be good and I am confident that that one too so we can get caught up in the change the item itself.

I think it’s really good to understand that building consensus looking at the Word above all, what’s saith the scripture. What saith the scripture, will allow us to accommodate change when it needs to, in the right direction it needs to go will give us the appropriate measure of caution.

Proverbs warns us not to be given to change and it warns us also not to ask, “Well, why were the former days better than these?” You are not wise to inquire so, you know.

So, when I think about group dynamics and that example, not that we’ve always done things timely and well, but I think that was one or the Elder body operated with a high level of caution, accommodation, wisdom, and prudence. I really appreciate that and can I safely say I’d like to put my finger on something I felt like happened in that talk and I’m curious if it was intentional, is it was both accommodating and cautious at the same time, and I’m and I’m not sure you won any friends with that talk either because it was equally offensive if you, if you pardon my language, but and I felt like it was effective in in that way. So, I’m curious, as a leader, if that is if that’s something to learn from?

Well, I was never trying to be offensive. And I don’t mean offensive technically, I meant that and I I would say that. Put it this way, brother Matt, I really wanted, I was really hoping that people who were just operating, so unilaterally is to be disregarding of someone who thought differently and just I’m gonna do this and I don’t really it’s nobody’s business to tell me what to do. That’s not the right attitude either. Nor is it well that they’re just doing that because they want to look like the latest Hollywood movie star. That’s not and by the way, that’s something I probably once said on this very topic. So, there’s any incrimination, incriminating statement there it’s probably myself that, that wouldn’t be a right attitude on my part.

So yeah, I was probably trying to call all of us who would have opinions on a topic like that into account.

Yeah. And I appreciate that and I personally felt like it was it was very well done and certainly a spirit inspired and but also had appreciated it from a leadership perspective that it was not necessarily courting one group of thinkers over another group of thinkers. But all of us, now, I I there are some wonderful questions that have been chimed in and would ask you, is speaking of this biblical one and unbiblical we talk about going to the Word. Sometimes we have change motivated that that we can’t necessarily say is unbiblical.

Does that necessarily mean cart launch, it’s okay. How do we as leaders deal with that that often that question of, well does the Bible say I can’t do this or that other thing? What does that look like in a corporate setting and how do we navigate that?

If I understand the question. I do think we need to be careful, when I say well the Bible, Bible doesn’t tell me I can’t do that. The Bible doesn’t tell us we can’t smoke cigarettes. But I think we probably all on this call would agree that is unbecoming of a disciple of Jesus. That’s a that’s by the way, a cultural norm that we have as a church.

And frankly I have to be honest with you I hope that doesn’t change. I think that’s a very healthy group corporate dynamic that is an expectation that is placed upon us one of another, for the purpose of giving a good example to the world of who we are.

It makes a lot of sense, but can I say that it’s a sin against scripture. Not really. Someone might say well, we’re temple the Holy Ghost, you know, we’re temples of the living God. We should keep the temple and I would say yeah, but you know what, I’m about 20 pounds overweight too. Right, So that it’s a kind of a it’s not a completely sound, not a bad argument, but it’s not we need to be careful. Right, but we also can’t just say, individual liberties should trump group expectations every time. We must in those situations go, I think go to the deeper matters of the law. Do I esteem others higher than myself? Am I willing for the peace ableness and unity and harmony of the body to forego a personal desire right for others. And by the way, am I am I sure I’m not using some group norm to over, to exert, overt control over someone that doesn’t belong to me either. Um You know the Apostle Paul, he said he would eat no meat as long as the world stands. Wonderful example of his willingness to be submissive to the whole but that doesn’t give me liberty to say well Matt you can’t wear those glasses because you know, you can’t make me want to look as good as you it just doesn’t it doesn’t.

It’s not intellectually honest I guess is what I would offer. I don’t know if that’s getting out.

I know I appreciate that. I mean speaking to the cultural I mean cultural norms is a is a I think a metric that I think is interesting to think about and I do a mindful of times, Arlan if you have any questions that have been chatted in you feel free to jump in.

One question that I have for you brother Kevin somebody chimed in about slippery slope syndrome, people saying if this happens then this how do you think through the slippery slope?

Well, if I go back to the parable in that third shepherd, when he you know, he expanded the fly, he expanded the pasture. But he didn’t but he expanded it with some new fences, right, new boundaries. The slippery slope argument, it’s there’s some ambiguity about it. You can’t argue it.

In some cases, but you cannot use it for everything. I did have, I go back to my example, of the year 2000, now 23 years ago and the revision of our Zion’s Harp, someone who was very opposed to that vehemently opposed to that, use the slippery slope argument that said that Zion’s Harp will be gone in five years, if you make that revision. That’s just gonna lead to dissatisfaction and it’s gonna, it that’s not a rational argument. It’s an irrational argument, generated by fear. It goes back to, do we know ourselves? That argument could have been made when we moved from one language to another. That argument could be made that where we shouldn’t go preach the gospel in Mexico or Japan because that culture is so different than ours, they’ll just never understand where we’re coming from. And we’ll just adopt those strange practices which are not strange to those people. There might be different to us. So, I do understand. There is some rationale that that works. There’s a good warning. But just say every change that we make is going to lead to a slippery slope is probably just not a good intellectual, sound place to be.

I don’t know how to answer better than that.

Appreciate that Arlan.

Yeah, just a really appreciate the conversation and the discussion and Brother Kevin. I think you know your last comments speaks to this place where we can get into when we when we deal in absolutes or perhaps overly strong statements in a scenario like this, which is really easy to get into um, but the idea of grace and assuming good intents and sweet reasonableness, hopefully calls us, calls us out of that or away from that. So, one question just an overarching question is we saw the questions come in, you really had kind of this this fear or this, um desire as pastors or a shepherd of a flock, you’re gonna have some in your congregation that are going to be more resistant of change.

We’re gonna be more uncomfortable with change are gonna feel like we’re changing too much too quickly and you’re gonna have others and your congregation that are going to be ready to adopt change quickly and are more ready to adapt, to go into those places. How do you deal with those opposing viewpoints within the congregation? What is what is just some general encouragement, teaching, communication? What have you what have you seen to be some essentials as you as you navigate into that those opposing mindsets?

Again, I want to repeat the thought that I’ve repeated early. I did not in any way want to present that I have done this well or correct, certainly I haven’t done it correct or well every time that I’ve been confirming with this so, in 30 years you make a lot of mistakes and when you get to the point where you’re on the on the horizon of retirement. It’s those things that you start to ruminate on. So bear with me on that. I do think that if you need to listen. And you need, as a minister, as a deacon, an elder, you need to be willing to modify. You may have you may have bought and then someone who’s really not on board with what you’re proposing or how you’re proposing to do it. Our egos can get in the way and we need to be careful. We need to listen. And especially when it’s, when it’s reasonable, when it’s, when it’s done with respect.

There are times that people will come to every one of us and it’s not in that and those are the times depending on our nature we can be patient, or we can have our proverbial hot button hit, you know. And there are times where you just need to thank them, someone. You need to express that you understand. But that you have a responsibility that is bigger than just one person or one family or one perspective and you need to move forward believing it’s what you’re being directed to do. It aligns with the Word of God. It aligns with the council of your fellow elders. And you hope they will work with you going forward. You cannot allow yourself to be held hostage. That is, that is a good strategy to make an unhealthy church. And there is a question here about how do you help people through change who have not had previous experiences and leadership that were that were healthy and that can range from it was abusive to it was ambiguous and neglect or neglectful.

Certainly, those who are called to be shepherds, elders, deacons and certainly do a degree every brother who’s called the ministry and his wife can’t be held hostage to a certain again family, perspective, or ideology. You need to move forward, and decisions need to be made.

And to do that with kindness and respect and understanding. But also with purpose. To me, that’s a strategy for getting through it.

Yeah.

And I really appreciate that and they kind of you know, the main points I heard tonight is know yourself. And how you walk through these areas, know your congregation and then walk wisely and discerningly and then give grace, right, give grace, listen and give grace in the midst of that.

Matt did you have any last words and I know Brother Kevin you probably had a few last thoughts you wanted.

Yeah, I don’t I just wanted to give Brother Kevin the opportunity to provide any sort of summary that you.

Yeah, thank you, there is a question here too about how to discern local culture versus national church direction. It’s a great point. And I just hope my fifth bullet point here that I’ve kind of written down just as we were starting. So, if I were to summarize what I hope I haven’t shared and hopefully it’s useful is we do need to know ourselves and why we’re behaving or why we’re feeling, how we feel.

Two is that we don’t consider people who are different and they’re either a ability to adapt or their desire for new things, new pasture, they are not the enemy. We need to assume good intent. As we manage all that’s happening in our in our churches. We need to manage then our own reactions and we need to learn, to understand other people’s why. Why do they desire that? Or why do they resist that? Or why do they react in that way? So, we need to learn how to manage our own reactions and we learn need to learn to understand others and the last thing I would say.

And I could pose it as a question, I’m not going to pose, I’m gonna pose it as my view, my thought, if you will. In these times of disruption

and beyond hectic pace of change, we are better together than we are apart that’s how I would summarize what I hope I’ve tried to communicate and it’s a

Well said. It’s a charge topic.

Yeah, appreciate that appreciate.

Yeah, everything you’ve shared Brother Kevin.

Yeah, likewise brother Kevin. Thank you for your time. And thank you to each of you who joined and to shared questions with shape this content and who took time out of your schedules to be part of this webinar.

We walk humbly through these areas. We all have a lot to learn and to grow in but we walk with that with a great Shepherd.

Um, who is cautious yet aware and who guides us along and our prayer is that we can learn from him and be modeled by him and shaped by him. So, thanks again for this evening. Thanks for being part of it brother Kevin, really appreciate it. And we wish you God’s blessings as you serve the congregation God has called you too. May you do it with wisdom and with grace and may you have a blessed holiday season.

Change, both welcome and unwelcome, affects each of us. Leadership must be able to lead through the ambiguity of knowing when to accommodate change while also being cautious of some change. In this webinar, Kevin Ryan helps us consider the effect which change can have on our congregations, encouraging us to do the personal work as well as the corporate work of managing change so that we can nurture our congregations with wisdom and grace. Learn more as you watch our webinar recording.

Healthy Leadership Strategies Through Change PPT Handout