EP 126 – THE EMOTIONAL CYCLE OF CHANGE
In this EP the guys talk with a boots on the ground pastor, Tim Williams of Gladewater TX. Pastor Tim is new to the field, remodeling the Parsonage, celebrating their new 10month old and doing the hard work of revitalizing a local church.
Tim asks the guys this question: How can I effectively and empathetically lead a 150 year old church, with long time members, toward change in a healthy and respectful way, that will help us reach younger families and not alienate the older members?
The guys engage in some good convo and break down the emotional cycle of change that faces church members and the Pastor as they embark on a change journey.
Emotional Cycle of Change:
- Uninformed Optimism is an exciting stage, but it doesn’t last long. (Israelites following Moses out of Egypt)
- Informed Pessimism ”is characterized by a shift to a negative emotional state. At this point, the benefits don’t seem as real, important, or immediate, and the costs of the change are apparent. You start to question if the change is really worth the effort and begin to look for reasons to abandon the effort.” (Israelites at the first sign of trouble)
- The Valley of Despair “This is when most people give up. All of the pain of change is felt and the benefits seem far away or less important—and there is a fast, easy way to end the discomfort: going back to the way you used to do things. After all, you rationalize that it wasn’t so bad before.” (Take us back to Egypt)
- Informed Optimism – Finally back in optimism. Don’t stop! (Crossing the Jordan – first Passover in promised land)
- Success and Fulfillment – You are finally experiencing the benefits on the other side of change. (Defeating Jericho)
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JimBo Stewart: [00:00:00] Here we are back at the bootcamp post super bowl. And although I said, don’t bet against borough man there at the very end. I mean, he held it in to the end and it just didn’t happen.
Bob Bickford: It was a close one. I was a lower scoring game. but I think it was really good. Everybody was close. And then. The defensive alignment. I forget what the guy’s name was. That with one giant arm, stop the running back. Have they got that extra yard might be different story today, but a great game. You know, I’m happy for Matt Stafford.
he, he’s a guy that labored away, like he’s like a replay inter in the sense of he labored away for what, you know, 13 years or so down in Detroit. And. Really talented guy struggled, but finally got his ring and, so congrats to Matt Stafford. And I think we’re going to see borough back in action
JimBo Stewart: Oh, yeah, we’ll definitely see borough back in action. There’s a lot of guys on the Rams that I like to Whitworth and I like [00:01:00] Cooper cup. and a lot of those guys are so excited for them. you know, it’s, it’s, I’m glad that Los Angeles was able to buy their super bowl when.
Bob Bickford: After forsaking St. Louis and, downgrading the team and, uh, illegally moving them. So I, I’m not happy for cranky. I’m happy for a Stafford.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, well, there are some players that we’re happy for. but we, we move on with life and, and continue on last episode, we talked about, empathy in the character of a leader as we’ve been going through those five key factors And so we’re, we’re jumping in today with a bootcamp guest, a boots on the ground guests.
And so Baba hope you’re ready for the next episode. We’ve got Tim Williams here with us, Tim, introduce yourself. Tell us just a little bit about yourself and where you’re at.
Tim Williams: thanks for having. I am hailing from Mount pleasant, Texas at. Glade water Baptist church. I [00:02:00] just started here back in December. This is my first pastorate. So I want to say, first of all, thank you for having me and thank you for the replant bootcamp and how, well this resource can be used in our ministry.
I grew up in Colorado, joined The air force after high school did not grow up a Christian. got saved when I was 25 and, started to feel like God was calling me to ministry somehow. I didn’t know really what that looked like. I didn’t even know that a call was a thing. And, so God’s really done a work in my life over the past, few years to, just point me in the direction that he has for me and to our surprise, my wife and I.
We are here. And, so, I’ve been, you know, this is the typical church revitalization, I’m in the sound booth, but if, behind me, I have all these flower arrangements that haven’t been used for 50 years. And, so, but I didn’t have time to clean them out, in between remodeling the parsonage.
everything else. So, I got a 10 [00:03:00] month old baby tomorrow, so I’m super excited for him. And, I don’t, so I used to be a huge football fan, but it’s like when you move to east Texas, the rest of the world doesn’t exist. And so I didn’t even think about yesterday being the super bowl and I, got done remodeling.
I was, I was working in the house after church and I went to pizza hut and I sit down. Why is there a football game on it’s February and, lo and behold, it was the super bowl. So, who, who even wants.
JimBo Stewart: The Los Angeles Rams. one in the kind of last minute says a hard fought battle between Los Angeles, Rams and Cincinnati Bengals. And, the fun part about that as you watch is Los Angeles Rams. I mean spent, I mean, literally millions and millions and millions of dollars to get the team and the location and the facilities and like the bangles barely, like don’t even have an indoor practice facility.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, man, I guess you can buy a Superbowl. So, [00:04:00] there you go. But man, these Texas, that’s a, that is a different part of Texas. I lived in deep south, Corpus Christi and then, the Dallas Metro area. And, you are in east Texas, which really is like the Piney woods area. I think some people call it. And, so a pre part of state.
Tim Williams: It is. Yeah.
And, you know, in comparison to where I’m from and Colorado, it’s got its own beauty. Right. I don’t see the sunsets like I did in Colorado or the sunrises, but, I don’t have to deal with negative 20 degree weather either, even though it’s been freezing here lately, I feel like I live in the Midwest.
Bob Bickford: Yeah.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, with the freezing you actually. you’re living in an, you were living in an RV because you’re renovating the parsonage while you are a bi-vocational Reid planter. And even potentially last time we talked to maybe try vocational re planter in the, in the middle of all of that, in a funeral, you, your RV.
Because of the freezing weather, flooded. And so now you’re in your in-laws guest [00:05:00]bedroom, which I assume has motivated you to finish renovations, in a rapid pace.
Tim Williams: Absolutely. That’s all I’m counting on is getting this house done this week. We are moving in. no matter what, we, yes, it’s been a disaster, but, I’m thankful to at least have a roof over our head. I’ll just settle it.
JimBo Stewart: Good. Hey, well, Tim, what was the question that you have for us today? on the.
Tim Williams: So I am at this point where I’m in 150 year old church that has been the same for the last 40 plus years. And so I’m trying to figure out how to. Be more, empathetic about change and how we can, uh, attract younger folks and younger families, without running the older folks off. I have church members that have been a member of the church for 88 years and a good majority has been a member of the church for.
50 years and they talk about wanting change, but are reluctant [00:06:00] when it comes to change. And especially when we’re talking about things like worship music, a coffee bar in the lobby, times of worship, and even going as far as you know, I, I don’t want to come in my first six months and change the name of the church, but we’re glad water Baptist church in Memphis.
And Glade water, Texas is just 45 minutes down the road. So it becomes a little bit, confusing. When, when I say I’m a passer, Glade water, people are thinking, why are you in Mount pleasant? So how do I address these change? It changes and be empathetic with the older folks who I understand changes.
Bob Bickford: I mean, those are really, really good questions. And, I wish we had like the silver bullet that we could send you in mail that would help you with those. But what I heard in his question Jimbo was that there’s a real awareness that changes. And can be painful for older adults who haven’t experienced a lot of change in the previous decades.
And so, first of all, I just want to, I want to highlight that, that man, you, you’ve got an awareness of, I just can’t [00:07:00] go in here and start changing things, right. And you want to do it in such a way that is wise and good and helpful, and you’ve identified some of the things that need to change. So first of all, I just want to call that out and say, man, good job.
Like thank you For having that perspective, some people who go into replanted church, maybe they start changing everything right away and start ripping things out. And, and I just want to say, man, that’s, that’s a really good spot to be in where you see the potential cost of change.
Tim Williams: That all came from, more wise people than me. So I can’t take the credit for that. I’m just following good counsel, but it was, the biggest thing that was brought up was that if you, you can change anything about the face of the church, but if you, if the heart of the church does not change, then when you change the face of the church, it just remains to be the same church.
And so, Then honing in for the last couple of.
JimBo Stewart: few things I would say that was one recognize, like Bob said that the fact that you’re displaying one of the characteristics we list out for re planters called tactical patients, knowing [00:08:00] that things have to have kind of a way that they go on a pace of change. the other thing I would say is man and reclaiming glory, mark Clifton kind of describes a, a secret sauce of how to begin to pursue that multi-generational aspect that is needed in a replant or revitalization.
It’s not a quick, easy answer, but I’m convinced it is the best answer and it really is just start discipling. Young men and, just it, as you can, as you can get a handful of young guys to come in and disciple them, they will bring an energy with them, that you have as a young man that they can rival and they can do the hard work with you.
They’re also less picky about. great programs or music or seating or design of the facilities. if they believe in the cause that they’re moving towards. And then eventually if they’re godly young men that are being discipled, some young ladies going to fall in love with them, and they’re going to get married and they’re going to have babies.
And, that really is the best approach [00:09:00] to, helping a church become a multi-generation. Beyond that, what I’d say is, is kind of that understanding of how to have empathy in the midst of tactical patients as you’re leading change amongst not just senior adults, but really amongst anybody.
and there, there’s kind of a predictable pattern that you’ll find as you lead change, that we’re gonna use. a tool that will link or show in the show notes called the emotional cycle of change that Bob and I’ve come across recently that, is really it’s research based. It is intuitive. I actually presented this to a church here recently, Bob, and, just this last week.
And they, it really resonated with a group of senior adults that I was talking to
and understanding that.
Bob Bickford: That’s great, man. Let’s jump right in. What’s the first step in the emotional cycle of change.
JimBo Stewart: So in the first stage of emotional cycle change is called uninformed optimism. This is that point where we don’t really know a [00:10:00] lot, but we’re kind of excited. this is when, when you interview with the church and they say we’re excited for a new future. We’re willing to do whatever it takes to change.
This is that uninformed optimism that you find in a church that says they’re ready to be revitalized or replanted. and just so you know, replant. cause I, Bob and I hear this often, we’ll start to talk about the difficulties of change. And they’ll say I understand that, but I met with our people and they told me, they told me, they said, they’re ready to change.
They’re ready to make the changes. They’re excited about it. They want a new future. And every time some replant or revitalize or tells us that they’re convinced that they’ve, they found the one dying church. That really is ready for change. and here’s the deal you didn’t, you didn’t find that you didn’t.
Bob Bickford: Absolutely Jimbo. I mean, this is what was my experience. Totally. Like I was affirmed with a 100% unanimous. We started visiting the old people, the [00:11:00] deacons, everybody said, we went and we need to change. And then I went to the key deacon and his wife who was on the search committee and they said, we need a change.
And I said, well, how would you go about, uh, starting to, you know, the process of changing he got, I just start changing stuff. Right. So I would say. That’s a mandate for me, right? It’s like, well, I started changing things in the first thing I changed was the bulletin and I love it. I’ve seen this before and I think I even repost it on Twitter.
A pastor thinks he’s going to change the world and then he gets fired for changing the bulletin.
I mean, you would’ve thought that I took the family Bible that was on the community table, ripped it up and jumped on it during a service. I mean, that’s, that’s changing the bulletin. Was that serious to some of those folks, it was crazy.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. So here’s the deal. And in order to move on, unfortunately we have to move from a positive emotion of optimism, and to a couple of [00:12:00] stages of a negative emotion of pessimism. And one of the, one of the things that probably messed up there, Bob is you gotta communicate, man. You, you can not, you can.
Over communicate as you’re making changes. Now here’s the problem when we move from uninformed. So we haven’t been communicated to, we’re just looking towards the future optimism or so excited. Now we get some information about what’s going to actually change. And we, it, once we are informed, we move from uninformed optimism to informed pessimism.
and this is characterized by a shift to a negative emotional state. At this point, the benefits don’t seem as real important or immediate, and the cost of the change become apparent. The same bulletin I’ve always had. Isn’t there anymore. You didn’t ask me if you were going to change it, you didn’t tell me you were going to change it.
You start to question. If the change is really worth the effort and you begin looking for reasons to abandon the effort. And I think a great parallel of all these [00:13:00] stages. If you look at the Israelites or the Exodus, I mean, this was Israelites at, at the point of everything. Pulling the discomfort, right?
Every, every time they get trouble, it was like, what are we doing? Why, why? You know, it was always grumbling and complaining. and so you move from stage one, uninformed optimism to stage two informed pestle.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, I remember. Our church was about 40 at the time that they called me and the schedule hadn’t changed in, oh, probably, you know, 20 years in terms of that committee meetings. And most of them served on the, well, not just one committee, but several. So I’d take the committee meeting, Like calendar announcements out of the bulletin.
Cause man, I was thinking if I’m visiting this church and I see like all the committee meetings, I’m not, I’m leaving because I’m going to be put on a committee. Right. So, you know, the church council was always like the first month and the deacons were always the second month, et cetera. Right. And so I was like, man, they all know when these are.
So I took them out and it was like chaos. They whip. When are the meetings? When are they going to happen? [00:14:00] You’ve got, gotta be kidding me. It turned into. Well, I don’t know, man, this pastor is changing too much. I think this is this. This is getting out of hand. So exactly. And communication is key, but here’s what I also know.
everybody wants change until it has their address on it. Until it hits their doorstep. And here’s what you don’t know as a re planter, there going to be some things that are like no-brainers to you and maybe a couple others in the church. Yeah. We could change that. Well, they, they agreed to change because they’re not invested in it, but somebody who’s invested in that is or find security in whatever it is that you’re changing, man.
They’re going to get pessimistic real quick. Why is this just too much change? Right. And it could be a little thing. It could be a small thing, but it’s certainly a stage that you have to, to
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. There’s some series battlegrounds. You know, Tim was talking about how he has the flowers behind him. our boss, mark Clifton says, not every church with a flower room is a dying church, but every dying church has a flower room and. At the church that I [00:15:00] replanted had five flower rooms and, through lots of battle scars, we were able to reduce it down to one flower room.
And, I’ll never forget when a new young person in our church saw the flower room and started to give me a hard time about the flower room. I was like, bro, you don’t even know. Battles. I have been through to, to reduce this from five to one, calm down. This is we’re going to be good with one flower room.
We’re good. Like I’m not fighting this battle anymore. So we moved from informed pessimism to the third stage, which is where it gets really hard. It hasn’t even gotten hard yet. The really hard stage behind informed pessimism is the valley of despair. they’ll walk through the valley of the shadow of.
this is when most people give up all the pain of change is felt and the benefits seem really far away or even less important. And here’s the deal. This is the reality. There’s a fast, easy way to end that discomfort. Let’s just go back to the way we used to do [00:16:00] things after all. It really wasn’t that bad.
This is where that emotion starts to really come up and like the Israelites, you know, why didn’t you just leave us in Egypt? at least we had three hots and a cot. Like we, we, we, we knew what was coming up. Right. And it was a, it was a bad day, but we knew what the day was going to be. It wasn’t that bad.
It wasn’t as bad as it is right now. and so the valley of despair is usually. When everybody quits, and organizationally systematically, I would say this is probably about year three. as you’re leading in a replant.
Bob Bickford: Absolutely. This is the stage where, you don’t want to attend the church that you’re pastoring and the people don’t want to attend the church that you pastor, right? it’s like, everybody’s like, man, this is not what we signed up for. And this is hard and it’s a real. And it does hit about year three.
I mean it, for us, it hit year three, I think Jimbo for you. And I’ve got a real good friend right now. Who’s replanting here in St. Louis and he’s right in the midst of year three. And this is the stage that I think you hit the [00:17:00] double dip. Right. But what I call the double dip, there’s the first dip. And when you start change, when, when the new pastor’s called, sometimes there are people who, for whatever reason, they’re just, you know, they were fond of the old guy, or it was time for them to move on.
The new guy. You’re not quite what they, they have maybe wanted or envisioned. And so you’ll, you’ll see a few folks just move on and that just, that happens all the time. But the double dip, the next step comes from when you start leading you, you pass that first year into that second year and you start leading it.
Some things start changing and then you hit that third year and then people have just had enough. Right. And they’re just like, and they quit. People do give up in the valley of despair. And so why just go back to the scripture that you mentioned, right? I mean, Psalm 23 is though I walk through the valley of that.
Here’s the key word, the shadow of death, right? The shadow is, not real it’s present and you feel it and you see it, but yeah. It’s not real. So I remember as a kid, when I would be afraid at night, I would see some sort of shadow [00:18:00] on my wall because I slept with a nightlight and I would, I would imagine all of the bad things that was right.
It wasn’t real, but it scared me nonetheless. And so I think there’s a church there per church members. There are three planters that are just frightened about this stage. And I think what we just need to say is, man, this is inevitable and it is also endurable. If you keep your eyes focused on Jesus and the.
JimBo Stewart: here’s three tips I have for surviving the valley of despair and getting through it. No it’s coming and communicate that it’s coming. don’t don’t sell your people on some rosy perfect picture of this is all going to be great. Just be up front with your people from the beginning.
and this is why I presented this to a church this last week is because we are a consulting them to go coaching them through a change process. And I wanted them to know, Hey, you’re excited right now, but there’s going to come a moment where you’re not excited. That’s tip one is just be aware of it and help others be aware of it.
Tip number two [00:19:00] is, early on, figure out who your true mission-minded early adopters are of division. And go ahead. And encourage them to build relationships with people who are going to really struggle in the valley of despair and ask them to help you shepherd and help those people through the valley of despair.
You can’t do it on your own. You really need to have some other people with you. other church members, ones that are already bought in. And so that’s tip to tip three is you have to have really clear. Mission clarity on where you’re going and why you’re going there. You can call that a vision statement and mission statement.
You can call it whatever you want. That’s what’s going to help. All of you get through the valley of despair is that, you know where you’re going, right. That the reason Moses continued to push on through those 40 years. And in the Israelites, as they knew they were going to the promised land, [00:20:00] they kept going because they knew they were going to the promised land.
And so there, there has to be clarity and reminders for everybody of why we’re going to try to get through the valley of despair. Uh, and so if you can be clear with everybody on that, on where you’re going, why you’re going there, and that there will be a valley of despair. And then enlist early adopters to help you with anti adopters along the way.
And if you can do that, you’ll move into the fourth phase, which is called informed optimism. Now we’re finally back. Here’s the most recent. A lot of the planters do quit around year three or four, which is why we always encourage man, five years minimum, at least get to informed optimism, get to the other side.
Don’t leave pastor in the middle of the valley of despair, stick through shepherd, those people through that valley, get them to informed optimism. This is to me in my mind, when I think about the Israelites, I think about the first Passover [00:21:00] on the other side of the. so Moses has passed away.
Joshua leads them across the Jordan and they have their first Passover in the promised land. Now there’s still a lot of battle to go. There’s still a lot of work to do, but that had to be a pretty high moment for the Israelites. I think.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, I take advantage of those victories and celebrate them, like celebrate even the small ones, the small victories that go along the way during the church family business meetings or whatever. If you’ve had guests who have. You know, showing up and come back, celebrate that if you redo the nursery and you know, it’s refreshed, then, you know, take a picture of it and put it on the screen, make sure you highlight that, make sure you highlight the landscaping, you know, whatever you’re doing that is moving the church.
It, and those are practical things, but ultimately you want to find those spiritual victories to celebrate where God’s been facing. Right. He’s provided the resources. He’s bringing people, you’ve got baptisms, you know, all of those sorts of things, make sure you celebrating all of those [00:22:00]things. Cause that just increases everybody’s, just their attitude and makes them optimistic.
Hey, the church is coming back to life and things are, are, we can point back to it and say, look, God is working. Things are happening.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. I mean, I honestly, it would be a great force tip for the value to despair the whole time. It’s so important to celebrate what you can celebrate. and then the fifth stage of the emotional cycle of change, which I don’t know that we ever truly complete is the success and fulfillment. Right. And, you know, this side of glory, we never crossed that finish line.
but what we can’t. It’s get a church to become a church that makes disciples that makes disciples that make the community noticeably better. That’s success and fulfillment. That’s how we define it. and a healthy culture of disciple-making and missional involvement. That’s multi-generational man, that’s that success and fulfillment.
It’s going to be a lot of work, Tim. Uh, this is not, there’s 20 minutes of advice. won’t be enough to get you there. but I think it’s maybe enough to get you started. Tim. Is that, is [00:23:00] that helpful? Is that along the direction of what you were asking or is there anything you want to add or clarify or ask.
Tim Williams: No, that’s great. I think the part that will be difficult is when we get to the point of. vision and, and crafting that and presenting that. but I, feel like we’re probably going to go like bounce back and forth between uninformed optimism, to informed pessimism for a couple of times over the first period of time.
And we’re just going to kind of quit and repeat, quit and repeat until we get to the valley of despair. And as long as we can press through that, then all glory to God. we will our 150 or, you know, your old church, we’ll see. Another day in the community. So thank you all so much for, all that.
JimBo Stewart: Absolutely man. We’re glad to have you on here. we love having boots on the ground, guests with us, and, we may even have you back on one day, man, keep us updated on how things are going in east, Texas and Maine. Let us know when you finally get to sleep in your own bed in the parsonage. May not. I’m praying for you for, to have that day soon.
Tim Williams: Oh, [00:24:00] what a day? That was.
JimBo Stewart: All right. Thanks guys. See you next week.
change leadership, East Texas, ecoc, emotional cycle of change, leading change, Tim Williams