Leading a Transition Involves the Painful Process of Watching Concrete Dry

Sam Rainer

September 2, 2011

Every church must transition. Every church should always be in some form of a transition. If the only constant is change, then leaders must guide churches through a transition in areas where change is occurring.

This change can be grand—a new site, a campus relocation, or a new mission endeavor. This change can be smaller—a new curriculum in the children’s department, a new budget process, or a new security procedure. All change, however, involves a transitioning phase.

Leading in this transition phase is like laying a foundation of concrete. Making the tactical/strategic/technical changes encompasses the work of putting the foundation in place. But in order for the transition to work, these changes must settle and solidify into the culture of the people. Technical changes come more easily. They are typically driven from the top. Cultural changes take time, and they come from the bottom. Like a worker laying the foundation of a house, leaders must watch and wait for the foundation of change to dry before building on it.

This process of watching concrete dry is painful, slow, and tedious, especially for leaders who are change agents. However, it is a necessary part of the process to make a transition permanent. If you try to move through the change too quickly, it’s like walking on a wet foundation. You just make a mess and ruin all the work up to that point.

Every transition involves a drying process. Every church should be transitioning. So, it means that every church leader must stop, wait, and watch for some amount of time. You may not feel like you’re working. You may feel like it’s time to build. You may want to hurry up and start something new. You will only make a mess. Take time to let your tactical changes settle into the culture of the church first. Then move and build again.

2 comments on “Leading a Transition Involves the Painful Process of Watching Concrete Dry”

  1. Here in Brazil, with the concrete foundations and rooftops (called “lage”), we see that pause in effect twice, and even more in buildings (every time you begin a new floor).

    The key is not to sit around and wait for the concrete to dry, but to use that time preparing things for the next phase of work. You are not building on top of wet concrete, but you are bringing in supplies, preparing them, and getting essential things done in the mean time.

    Also, in construction here, there tends to be a special team above and beyond the regular workers that come in just for laying that foundation, they are not highly trained, just hard workers, and everyone carries a small load until it is done.

    Building those foundations and lages takes everyone. In ministry, there are a lot of things that leadership and key servants can do, and it is the most visible, but laying the concrete takes everyone or it won’t get done.

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