10 Stepping stones

By Tessa on Nov 5, 2015 in Resources

Making the Most of these Tools and Resources

 

The ten “stepping stones” of parish development are

  • Honest self-evaluation
  • Harnessing dissatisfaction
  • Discerning vision
  • Building teams
  • Maximising communication
  • Managing change
  • Shaping culture
  • Enabling action
  • Handling conflict
  • Maintaining momentum

One of the key aims of the parish development conferences is that a parish team will go away with a sense of the next stepping they need to address if they are to reach their full potential in Christ.

The hope is that when a parish has identified a particular stepping stone the parish team will find one or two resources here that will assist in the process of working through that aspect of parish development.

 

In order to access the material for use in your parish click on the links, they will be downloaded for viewing on your computer.

 

1.Some tools for Honest Self-evaluation

 

Looking in the mirror can be a difficult experience when we fear seeing the truth. Churches can often be adept at concealing unpalatable truths about themselves. Unhelpful and unnamed values can obscure the gospel values we espouse.

The following tools may be of help to a parish that is prepared to take that long, hard look in the mirror and face up to those things that are revealed as unhelpful.

 

1.ChangeAssessment tool will show if you’re really ready to face the cost of change

2.Church life cycle  tool gives an indication of how radical is the change needed in a parish

3.John Truscott’s website (john-truscott.co.uk) offers a number of church health reviews.

4.Ithy Church Assessment tool will give a good indication of areas of strength and weakness in a parish’s ministry. It comes from the United Methodist Church in USA but adapts well enough to the Church of Ireland.

5.Preparation course was used to help parishes prepared for previous programmes of Church21. It can easily be adapted for more general use by any parish.

6.DDA Audit from London diocese relates particularly to a parish provision for those living with disability

 

 

2.Some tools for Harnessing Dissatisfaction

 

One of the articles below encourages us not to seek to quell a sense of dissatisfaction in our churches but rather to stoke it up because without it we will not seek after something better.

The following tools may be of help to a parish that wants to channel the energy currently expended in managing negative energy into something more positive

 

  1. John Truscott’s website (john-truscott.co.uk) helpfully deals with one of the biggest causes of dissatisfaction in churches, TN36 Round pegs in square holes.
  2. “Holy Discontent” is the title of a video address by Bill Hybels at billhybels.com/downloads.asp. His book by the same title also has lots of helpful advice.
  3. Divine Discontent. Dan Miller article
  4. The Benefits of Dissatisfaction – a secular business perspective. Best avoided by those who find business-speak difficult!
  5. Steps towards Channelling Divine Discontent

 

3.Some tools for Discerning Vision

 

There are three key questions to do with establishing God’s vision in a parish:

How do we discern the vision?

How do we share the vision?

How do we implement it?

The following tools may be of help to a parish wishing to work through these questions. It is not intended that a church should use all of the tools but it may be helpful for a team to work through one or two of the exercises depending on the stage the parish is at.

We hope to keep adding to and adapting the tools so please visit the resources section of the website again and let us have other tools which you have come across.

 

  1. 4 Biblical questions relating to vision Time spent pondering these basic questions will never go amiss when starting to explore the whole issue of vision
  2. Acts 2 values exercise
  1. Draft Parish Vision This sheet takes you through the various steps that are preliminary to being able to express a clear vision. Try to express your identity, your values, and your purpose. Then work out what will most effectively enable you to fulfil these aspects of your calling as a church.
  2. Luther King Distribute copies of this famous speech to your core team. Invite them to share what they learn from it about vision.
  1. Reasons for vision A parish needs to be convinced of the difference having a clear vision will make. Copy this sheet and share with your team. Invite each member to identify the three primary reasons for them personally. Then share together and see what common reasons emerge. Use these when talking to the rest of the parish about the vision.

 

 

  1.      Role of diocese in vision making   A diocese can make a huge difference in encouraging parishes to develop visionary ministry. Have a discussion about what level of encouragement your diocese is at and how it can become even more strategic in this task.
    1. Disapproval mode – the diocese discourages, actively or subliminally, any attempt at building visionary ministry
    2. Disinterest Mode – the diocese shows no interest in building visionary ministry
    3. Permission-giving mode – the diocese is prepared to allow parishes to develop visionary ministry but expects them to take the initiative
    4. Encouragement mode – the diocese is warmly encouraging towards any parish that is attempting to build visionary ministry
    5. Proactive mode – the diocese expects parishes to be building visionary ministry
    6. Policy mode – the diocese has a policy of equipping parishes in aspects of building visionary ministry
    7. Strategy mode – the diocese has a clear strategy to equip parishes in all aspects of building visionary ministry

     

    1. Swot This is one of best tried ways for guiding a parish towards a clear sense of vision. Get together a group of people and ask them to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing their parish. Ask what opportunities the parish can take to minimize the threats, building on its strengths and side-lining the weaknesses.
    2. Vision killers. Are any of these stifling the power of vision in your parish?
    3. Visionary Leadership. This offers an alternative way to 3. above to building a parish vision.

     

4. Some tools for Building Teams

In church circles the language of team is not always used in a way that is helpful. We confuse a team with a group. Groups can help us achieve a task. Teams do that too but so much more. As Jesus showed in working with his disciples, a small team can make a huge difference, even when that team is far from perfect.

The following tools may be of help to a parish wishing to build a healthy team at the centre of parish life and then to make teamwork a normal and natural aspect of all that happens. It is not intended that a church should use all of the tools but it may be helpful for a team to work through one or two of the exercises depending on the stage the parish is at.

We hope to keep adding to and adapting the tools so please visit the resources section of the website again and let us have other tools which you have come across.

 

  1. John Trustcott has a number of useful sheets including, “A leadership team checklist”, “Line management on a church staff team”, and “One another teams” available free on his website (john-truscott.co.uk which also contains other helpful resources.

 

  1. If there are people within your parish who remain to be convinced of the value of having teams the What does the Bible say about teamwork sheet may be helpful.

 

  1. Working together as a team looks at ways of building healthy dynamics within the life of a team

 

  1. The Team assessment is worth looking at as a way of reviewing how effective your current team is

 

  1. The The Life of the Group sheet is a detailed analysis of team dynamics. It contains a description of roles played by various team members (Belbin) which could be used as a stand-alone exercise to help your team members play to their strengths.

 

5. Some tools for Maximising Communication 

They
say
that
there
are
three
groups
in
every
church:
those
who
make
things
happen,
those
who
watch
things
happen
and
those
who
haven’t
a
clue
what’s
happening!
And
it
sometimes
seems
as
if
the
latter
category
are
in
the
majority!
The
following
tools
suggest
some
simple
ways
that
a
parish
might
become
more
effective
in
this
all‐
important
area
of
communication.
We
hope
to
keep
adding
to
and
adapting
the
tools
so
please
visit
the
resources
section
of
the
website
again
and
let
us
have
other
tools
which
you
have
come
across.

1. A
good
starting
point
is
the
THREE SIMPLE QUESTIONS TO IMPROVE CHURCH COMMUNICATIONS
resource
2. goodchurchwebsite.com
has
lots
of
useful
tips
for
any
parish
wanting
to
know
what
to
put
and
what
not
to
put
on
a
website
3. The
10 obstacles to effective church communication
and
10 Characteristics of Effective Parish Communication sheets
offer
some
useful
pointers
4. The
Communications_Audit
from
Ripon
diocese
might
help
focus
a
parish
on
particular
areas
that
need
improvement
5. John
Truscott
has
a
good
overview
of
the
subject
(Good
Communication)
on
his
website
 www.johntruscott.com

 

6. Some Tools forManaging Change

 

Question: How do we introduce a change in some aspect of parish life? Answer: Carefully! Many’s a worthy project idea has come to nothing because insufficient care has been taken over the process of explaining why, how and when change is to be made.

The following tools may be of help to a parish wishing to work through a process of change. It is not intended that a church should use all of the tools but it may be helpful for a team to work through one or two of the exercises depending on the stage the parish is at.

  1. John Truscott has a useful sheet, 15 ways to help people change, available free on his website john-truscott.co.uk which also contains other helpful resources.

 

  1. Church life cycle  This tool is useful in reminding us of various stages that churches are likely to go thorough in a journey of change. “Forewarned is forearmed.”

 

  1. Rates of Congregational Change – Church21 Some people will embrace change sooner than others. This tool is helpful in preparing us for the different attitudes people in our parishes will have to change and how we can bring the maximum number with us.

 

  1. Ready for change Sometimes churches dive too soon into change things. This tool can give us a sense of when it might be right to begin to implement the change we know is needed.

 

  1. Hurdles to change What are some of the barriers to change we are likely to encounter? Having a discussion about barriers we are most likely to encounter and how they might be breached lessens the change of change being impeded.

 

  1. ChangeAssessment Too soon and we might not have sufficient support; too late and we might miss the moment. This tool is designed to help churches decide, When is the right time for us to make changes? It might be treated with a little caution as its transatlantic origin means that terminology and context might not immediately relate to churches in Ireland. Yet it does contain some valuable information that could help any parish decide the right time to step out into change.

 

 

7. Some Tools for – Shaping culture

 

A Church of England Bishop once commented, “The Church loves change so long as it doesn’t make any difference!” There is a kind of superficial change that churches engage in – changing a type of service perhaps or the hymnbook that the church uses – that causes a lot of fuss at the time but in the long term doesn’t really change anything. Things still “feel the same”. The hardest thing to change in any organisation is the culture. It can be a painful process because it involves uncovering unhelpful values (naming the elephant in the room) and replacing them with values that flow from the essence of who we are and what we do as church – the Gospel.

The following tools may be of help to a parish willing to undergo the slow but profitable journey of reshaping its culture.

  1. A good place to begin is with the 5 Signs Your Church Culture Needs to Change This will provide us with some reasons for starting the journey.
  2. The article on 8 Words That Define Your Church is well worth reading for an overview of what culture is and how it can be reshaped.
  3. The simple steps recommended in the Identifying core values tool from the diocese of Texas would surely be of value in any parish.
  4. The Shaping your core values checklist applies to a personal examination of our own values but could easily be adapted for communal use.
  5. Again, John Trustcott’s website provides some helpful resources particular the Church Health Review (http://www.john-truscott.co.uk/Resources/Health-checks/The-Church-Health-Review)

 

8. Some tools for Enabling Action

It’s one thing knowing what we want to do and another thing to make it happen.
It’s tragic when a parish invests a lot of time and energy discerning an exciting vision for the future only to leave it sitting on a dusty shelf.
The following tools may be of help to a parish wishing to turn vision into action.

1. 15 steps to help people change. John Truscott’s website (www.john-truscott.co.uk) has a number of helpful free resources especially A4 Twelve Questions to help you Plan, and A 35 Mapping your Church
2. ChangeAssessment What to Why – People won’t be willing to change unless they understand the reasons for it. This sheet helps a parish address the why question first.
3. Hurdles to change “Change is never easy. There are various obstacles that can trip us up. If we can anticipate the hurdles to change it will make it much more likely that we’ll finish the course. This resource aims to help you anticipate the hurdles you are most likely to face in your own parish.”
Kotter John Kotter’s change model provides a useful checklist for any parish wishing to move from vision to action.
5. From How to Why. To have any chance of implementing change we need to address the Why question before we think about What?
6. shared vision Getting key people on board is the secret to bringing the wider community with us.
7. Strategic leadership. This sheet highlights some of the characteristics that are needed.
8. The Change Train helps us understand the likely response to change and how to maximise support.
9. Urgent important matrix Most churches are focused on dealing with the urgent at the expense of the important. This tool has help us make the shift.
10.Why be SMART; illustrates the value of setting smart goals.

 

 

9. Some tools for Handling Conflict

 

The following tools may be of help to a parish that seeks to deal well with the conflict that will inevitably arise when things start to change.

  1. John Truscott’s website (john-truscott.co.uk) has a number of helpful free resources especially TN49 What’s going on under the surface, and TN 30 How to give and receive criticism
  2. There are also some very useful tools made freely available on the website of the Methodist Church in Ireland. www.irishmethodist.org/conflict-church
  • The Gospel of Conflict
  • The Escalating Stages of Church Conflict
  • Conflict Transformation Essay
  • Defining Conflict Transformation

3. Bible study on conflict

4.  Dealing with conflict in the smaller church

5. The Escalating Stages of Church Conflict

6 .Dealing with conflict in the smaller church

 

10. Some tools for Maintaining Momentum

“I’ve started so I’ll finish”; this was the memorable catchphrase of Magnus Magnusson on the TV quiz Mastermind. But in parish life it is often more difficult to see things through to completion. Churches can be good at starting things that they don’t finish. Maybe people are exhausted after a major fundraising effort; or they’ve tried too many things without seeing much in terms of results. Jesus’s words of wisdom about making sure you finish the tower you’ve started building come to mind. So how can we prevent that loss of momentum and keep our parish focused on the job to hand?

 

The following tools may be of help to a parish that wants to see things finished well.

  1. Brian Houston’s blog on  10 Principles For Gaining Momentum offers a very challenging reflection on the nature of momentum and how, ultimately, it is not something we can create or control.
  2. Church leader Paul Rivera offers some simple but important advice concerning Church Momentum Killers and, in similar vein, there is an article on            5 Ministry Momentum Killers
  3. Again, John Trustcott’s website provides some helpful resources particular TN 24 Church members can burn out too, and TN31 Affirming volunteers (http://www.john-truscott.co.uk/Resources)