Church Change Mechanisms
What exactly are the ‘mechanisms’ (inner forces) of change in Orthodox parishes? Here is a partial list of mechanisms we've seen as parishes confronted the possibilities of “a brighter future”.
1) Exposure to "Something Better"
Leaders (somehow) get a glimpse of new results – results that fit so powerfully its inward sense of mission as to disturb old comforts and make the status quo untenable. Someone raises a key topic of discussion -- for example: 'What is Our Future Vision?'
2) People Shuffle
Somebody quits or leaves. Or, new parishioners arrive bringing new ideas from a previous parish. Likewise the arrival of a new priest brings a fresh set of eyes. Even the planning for retirement or transfer of the current priest often promotes thinking about where thing are headed.
3) Worship Change
A change in some aspect of worship-- start times, blending new music styles etc. are things seen by all. Something feels different. This can then be linked to other changes –new ministry perhaps.
4) Impending Decline
Too often we hide bad news. Facing facts can be a great motivator for change. As has been said: “The view of the gallows clarifies the mind”.
5) Somebody Steps Up
Sure change needs more than one person. But one or two persons –serious about change – can be the leaven that leavens the whole lump. (“I’m not gonna take it anymore”)
6) External Change -- Neighborhood?
Sometimes a change in the parish context –perhaps changes to the local neighborhood cause people to think seriously about ‘what our job is here.’
7) Catalytic Event
Critical event/catastrophe –followed by exemplary faith demonstrating behavior.
to be continued...
Participating in the Parish Development Forum can jump start many of the above.