EPISODE #82 – VISION AND OVERCOMING RESISTANCE TO CHANGE
The boys are back at it talking the change equation to overcome resistance to congregational change and how vision plays an important part in getting things moving.
Holy Discontent + Vision + First Steps + Leadership > Resistance to Change
Vision = a clear and compelling God given picture of the unique call placed upon a local body of believers to bring Glory to God by obeying his leadership.
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Show notes powered by Descript are an approximation of the verbal content, consult podcast audio for accuracy
[00:00:00] JimBo Stewart: Here we are back at the bootcamp from the replant headquarters in the garage in Jacksonville, Florida, and the upstairs next to your daughter’s bedroom loft in St. Louis.
Bob Bickford: yes, we are. And it’s a beautiful day here, Jimbo, and I’m sure it’s a great day of Jacksonville as well.
JimBo Stewart: It’s a great 80 degree day. We’re starting to swing into that part where we get a 40 degree swing each day. It’ll be around 40 degrees in the morning when you wake up about 80 degrees in the afternoon. So I am due for a sinus infection any day now.
Bob Bickford: well, that doesn’t sound very fun. And that doesn’t sound
JimBo Stewart: At some point, the weather will get me at some point, just the weather will impact and, uh, the pollen and I’ll get it. It just happens, you know?
Bob Bickford: well, we are in that phase right now where there’s green dust all over. The cars and my deck and my porch and all of those sorts of things. But fortunately, I went through my really bad pollen spell a couple of weeks [00:01:00] ago and, uh, and I’m holding out and when the tree pollen hits, I’ll get another blast, but I think I’m over the worst of it.
And by the way, thanks for turning me on to the liquid gel Benadryl tablets.
JimBo Stewart: Hmm.
Bob Bickford: I’ve been taking those from time to time and medicating myself with those. And it’s been really good. And even though I can take two legally in the dosage says I can take two. If I take two, Jimbo is not good.
JimBo Stewart: Are you out? You out?
Bob Bickford: It doesn’t talk me out. But do you remember when we first got computers and we had a hard time seeing the mouse and where it would go, so you would print of ghosting or trail on the mouse? That’s kind of, that’s kind of me on the double dose of Benadryl I move. And then the rest of me catches up.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, I get that. I get there. There’s definitely a groggy feeling that can come with that. I think I’ve developed a little bit of a, a tolerance to Benadryl since I developed a nut allergy, uh, about 10 years ago. And so when I first got my [00:02:00] narrowed out allergy, I would always take Benadryl. If I started to have a reaction.
And at first that that meant I was out for the rest of the day. I mean, whatever, whatever was on my calendar for the rest of the day was done. I was, it was not going to happen anymore. I remember going to a staff meeting lunch with the church staff, where I was serving at the time and we went and got Thai food, which I’ve just learned.
I just can’t, I can’t. I can’t eat Thai food. There’s nothing at a Thai restaurant that doesn’t have nuts in it. And so I asked the waitress like five times. Does this have any nuts? No, no nuts, no nuts. Does this have any nuts? No, no nuts. Okay. Okay. I take a bite of it and I said, Hey, what kind of sauce is this?
She goes, Oh, peanut sauce. I was like, Oh, okay. All right. Well, I just looked at the guys and I was like, I gotta take a bit of drill and, uh, probably going to be done for the day. So.
Bob Bickford: You tapped out
JimBo Stewart: I tapped out. I was like, I can do, but now I can take a bit of drill and it barely, it it’ll help me with any allergic reactions, but it doesn’t [00:03:00] really make me very groggy.
Bob Bickford: well, you’ve arrived at a level of managerial resistance that is admirable and a desirable. Uh, for those of us who still feel like we, we go into ghost mode when we take Benadryl.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. Yeah. Well, man, I’m excited to be back on the boot camp with you. I’m glad you’re feeling a little bit better. I know you’ve been under the weather and uh, you’re I think you said earlier today you’re wet like 87.5% back.
Bob Bickford: no, let’s let, let we factor it up. 97.7.
JimBo Stewart: 97.7 97.7. That’s pretty good. I mean, at how long do you say 97.7 until you just kind of realize maybe that’s as far as we’re going to get. I mean, that’s a,
Bob Bickford: I think you better ask Barb on that one
JimBo Stewart: it may not, it may not get any better after this who
Bob Bickford: We may not. We may have reached the pinnacle and it’s all downhill from here.
JimBo Stewart: I am excited to continue the conversation that we started last week on [00:04:00] building congregational momentum. this idea of overcoming a resistance to change. And you’ve put together this great change equation. Holy discontent, plus vision plus first steps. Plus leadership is greater than a resistance to change is how you overcome a resistance to change.
So last week we talked about the idea of Holy discontent and, just to recap that a little bit, uh, and I really appreciate that you. you started there. And for me, the first time I heard you present this, that’s what really stuck out to me was that idea of Holy discontent being more than just a sense of urgency.
Right. And, uh, and so you defined Holy discontent as the unquenchable spirit initiated conviction, the things are not as they should be and that they must change. I think it’s in, uh, several books that it talks about how basically we got to get to the point that the pain of staying the same is greater and the pain of change.
[00:05:00] Bob Bickford: Absolutely. And many churches that are plateaued and in decline just aren’t there yet. And, you know, Clifton will say that they nest the ties themselves to pain by doing any number of things that getting busy, doing the administration of a church, protecting and preserving particular forms of style of worship and, and programs and all those sorts of things.
So we can do a lot of things to ignore ourselves or to make ourselves ignore the pain. Right. That, that if you ever watch a video on it, Seal team training. One of the things they’ll do is they’ll teach a guy when they do that cold test. I don’t know if you’ve seen that, but they take them out when it’s cold and spray them down with cold water and it’s windy and they’re just.
Freezing, but they’ll teach them to, you know, do some something with their fingers, do a friction point with their fingers or their toes, and just concentrate on that and ignore the cold. And so they kind of do that. Well, churches do that all the, all the time. Right. and so we’ve got to, we’ve got to help, uh, Just foster a sense of Holy discontent.
That’s led by the [00:06:00] spirit. That’s informed by a biblical truth, but we, we got to do something else and that’s where vision comes in. Right? So the next part of it, the definition of the vision portion of the change equation is a clear and compelling God given picture of the unique call placed upon a local body of believers to bring glory to God by obeying his leadership.
Right. So a couple of things here, um, one is, is, you know, there’s my vision for the church. And then there’s God’s vision for the church. And, and as a re planter coming into a church, the first thing that you’re probably going to have is your vision for the church, right. Immediately. So like, if I were to ask you, when you remember the first day that you walked into the church that you replanted there in Jacksonville, What are some of the first things that you’re like, yeah, that’s got to change like immediately.
You’re like, yeah, that’s got to change. Do you remember what a couple of those were?
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, so I would say a couple of those things were facilities related as I [00:07:00] got in there. the general odor
of the place, uh,
Bob Bickford: Yes.
JimBo Stewart: Was, was it in need of something that would improve it? carpet, dark wood paneling. Uh, so it had, the walls were as dark wood paneling on the bottom half and then just white on, uh, the top half.
Not, off-white not beige, just white.
Bob Bickford: kind of like an Oreo cookie, like something like a dark layer and then a light layer.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. Yeah. So just a dark layer on the bottom half of wood paneling and then just plain white up top with, uh, with blue, carpet, like deep blue that we had rips and holes and, uh, all sorts of things like that. So, uh, immediately there was a lot of, Facility things that I saw needed to be changed. And then in our first services, just some of the service order stuff, how we would do a general announcements.
And [00:08:00] then we, there was just like an open mic announcement time after general announcements.
Bob Bickford: Yes, I remember. Yes.
JimBo Stewart: anybody else, anybody else got any announcements? Anybody else got anything they want to share?
Bob Bickford: I actually got interrupted when I was doing announcements to Michael first, Sunday after the interim pastor left and, you know, installed me as a pastor and next Sunday show up and I’m doing the announcements. And then this lady raises her hand during the announcement time. And I don’t recognize her. But she’s, she just starts talking and she starts announcing things.
And I guess that was the, at our church too. So, so all that to say, there are a lot of things that immediately come to our attention that have to change, but, you know, we could change the carpet. We could change the paint color. We can change the way we do announcements and the church could actually not change in any substantial way.
And I think this really is the heart behind this step is what is it that God wants? Your church city, what is he called your church to do? As he’s [00:09:00] expressed, you know, just the vision of you becoming a functioning and vital, vibrant body and a gospel proclaiming church there. What is your unique call that’s placed on that church, in that local place to bring glory to God?
Because I think there’s there’s, there are things that churches across North America that we do in common that we could find. Across any church, typical church in North America, that’s seeking to be healthy and make a difference for Christ. Are they saying they do outreach to the community. They do discipleship, mercy ministries, all those sorts of things, but usually there’s like a unique fund print for your church in particular.
And, uh, and I think that’s what you got to endeavor to, to discover.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, I think part of that is figuring out what. What is the unique, kind of vision that God has placed this church right here, where he has placed it in this community. And part of that is understanding the church, the history of the church, the culture of the church, understanding, understanding the community history of the community, [00:10:00] culture of the community, uh, culture, the leadership, the people within the church and how to all of those mesh together.
in a unique moment in history and understanding that part of context is a moment in history, right? A part of context is knowing, not just where you’re at, but when, and at what particular moment, and as you get a good grasp of that, and we’ve suggested several resources before, like, the fourfold Panorama that we’ve done with and cook and things like that, that can help bring some clarity to how your church.
Can relate well to its community, but not just knowing how does it relate, but what does that vision, what does that look like? What does it look like for your church to actively reach its community for the gospel?
Bob Bickford: Yeah. W w part of that is, is really understanding who you are as a people and the resources that God has accumulated there. the passions of the folks that God has assembled there, and then really spending time. [00:11:00] Discussing that and praying through that. And even Jimbo, I, I just like to fill up a whiteboard or a piece of paper or a journal page just to say, what do I know about our community?
Why do I know about our church? What do I know about the passions that we have? And then what I know about that, The giftedness and the resources that the people have here. there are times when, you know, you just got to spend some time writing it out, writing it out and, and asking yourself questions.
And then I think what happens sometimes is there themes that begin to emerge and there are connection points that begin to emerge in some people do a Venn diagram, you know, they, they chart it all out and say, where do these intersect and, and all that becomes clear. Do you think that, in addition to just sort of riding that out, what would you suggest in terms of if we’ve got a day, one or week one or month, one, even year one re planter, it’s just rolled in there and as fought through some of the things like the carpet and the smell and the announcements and all those sorts of things, but yet it’s [00:12:00] still saying, man, I just don’t have a definitive understanding of the vision here that God may be drawing us to.
What, what are some practical ways you might help suggest that they go about connecting with that?
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, I think one of the things is trying to think through, prayerfully. And as far ahead, as you can realistically, and then work backwards from there in a sense of, if, you know, maybe you can think w you know what, maybe you maybe really can’t think of beyond a year. And so you think, okay, that’s fine.
What, what would success. Look like in a year, what would it look if I could fast forward a year and peek in and go, man, this is, this is what I was hoping would happen. what would that look like? And then kind of work backwards from there. What are three or four things I need to do over the next four quarters?
And then break it down into quarters from there. and then, and you know, so as you break it down into quarters from there, you know, you break it down to the next 90 days, you know, [00:13:00] what, what do I need to accomplish in the next 90 days that helps me get where we’re trying to get in a year that’s, that’s maybe kind of the general vision casting kind of way you can think about that.
I think you have to do that one in prayer and two and in community. And that communities. And so what I mean by that is this is not you going up on top of the mountain and receiving the tablets and bringing them down. this is you with, and we talk about in a change leadership series we did before about building a team, and this is you and a team of people really sitting down and praying through, What, what do we hope to see God do in the next year?
And what is our part in that? and what does it look like for us to be obedient into that for the next 90 days? And what, what are the next five things we need to do in order to help us get there?
Bob Bickford: that idea in the sense of, discovering and developing a vision and community? I think initially [00:14:00] in ministry, I had always approached a vision as. Something that I had to come up with, right. That I was the sole person to, you know, discover it, formulate it, communicated, and then align people to execute it.
And, I think what I discovered over time is that God often will, will sharpen vision or sharping the beginning of a vision that I had through the community of people that he’s brought. Around me and to lead with me towards what he has for that church, because I see, I see the church from one perspective, I see the community from one perspective.
and so I love that idea of developing a vision. And I think early on in our leadership process here, I worked with some, some really high capacity guys. One was a really high capacity medical guy. another was, uh, Uh, former military officer Yeah, and a lawyer. And so these guys were real command, a command [00:15:00] chain of control, your chain, chain of command and real, you know, top down and all these sorts of things.
And I was honestly at a point in my life where I was like, man, my vision right now for my life and for my ministry is if I can just get out of bed and write a sermon. And survive. I I’m going to call that the vision, that’s what I’m going to be successful at. Right. And so I had these guys, this was like two years into our replay two and a half years.
And these guys are like, what’s the vision? What’s the vision? What’s the vision? What’s the vision. I’m like, Hey, I think God’s called us here to, to discern the vision. And man, that was like, They couldn’t do it. They couldn’t go there. They couldn’t think through that because they were just so kind of locked in that, that the single, the single pastor is the one who only owns the vision.
So I think that for me being much more collaborative in nature, I really struggled in that season and I had to find. And weighed out some, and for the Lord to bring some guys and rotate [00:16:00] them, rotate those guys out of the leadership team, rotate some other guys in, and then some other people for us just to say, look, what has God called us to do here?
And what if we pursue that together in prayer and conversation and discover that. So I think that maybe if a re is brand new to the field is really struggling through that. Developing a vision initially. man, love your people. Well, pastor them well, and then find out who among you has a heart and a mind that thinks about the future of the church. Right. That’s probably one of the key indicators. I think that somebody might be the right person to, to begin to bring into a team, and to collaborate with them, to develop, uh, an idea of what God has for your church. Because if there’s somebody else thinking about the future, like you’re thinking about the future, then, that’s a good sign that you might have found the right person to bring in the team.
JimBo Stewart: And here’s what I would say is, I don’t know that you have to have a clear vision in the first, like a hundred [00:17:00] days or so, or, you know, even year possibly, is going to take you a good minute to figure out where you are and what’s going on. And what is the, what is the culture of the church? How can you have a good understanding of the ware or awareness of the organization as a whole and its role in the community?
that, that takes some, some time when. When we send missionaries through the IMB, or, or really a lot of organizations that send missionaries overseas to other countries, they spend a year to two years just learning language and culture, before, before they really start implementing a whole lot of strategy.
And if you’ve got the runway to do it, And you’re brand new, then man, take that year or two and, be in as many homes as you can. Now COVID maybe complicates this. Maybe doesn’t depending on where you’re at. but beyond phone calls beyond, I mean, if you’re in a church that’s dying, then the, the list of people you need to talk to, you may not be very long.
but. Just do a lot of listening, a lot of asking and learn as much as you can about [00:18:00] the church and the community from the people that, that go there that lived there, walk around the community and ask for that kind of stuff.
Bob Bickford: I love that idea. And, and I, I think that unfortunately, we are an impatient. People oftentimes when we’re trying to pursue and discover a vision and we just, we want the sick, we want the quick success that maybe we’ve heard others have had. And honestly, Jimbo, there might be a financial reality to that.
You know, we were raised funds, we’ve got to have something happen. We have a limited window of opportunity. We feel like to, to do something quickly. But I think on average, most of the, most of the folks who end up pastoring replants and doing revitalizations are not. Drop in a spot, make it happen. Kind of folks, right there.
People who love the Lord love people. And then over a period of time, they’re able to successfully help that church grow in a pace that’s healthy and God honoring. And so I think, um, do what you can to fight, to fight, to, uh, [00:19:00] love the people well and discern really well what God has called you to, and then, and pursue that, after it a period of time.
One of the things I think I would say also that’s important is. As you’re developing, what you believe is the vision that God has for your church in a unique way for that place in time. And that spa, as you began to talk about that and communicate that one of the things I think that is a good sign that you’re heading in the right direction is people get excited about it as you talk about it, right?
There’s an initial, there’s an initial adoption to say, yeah, I could see that. Or, you know what. I really liked that idea or, you know, what that sounds really awesome or even better, you know what I’ve had the same thought that this is what we probably should, should do. And so there’s a resonance there when you begin to unpack the vision, that’s really key.
I would say, in addition to look for people, look, people who are considering the future, when you share your vision with people. Does it create a sense of excitement and do, is there [00:20:00] agreement and is there buy-in when you’re communicating with them, it tests your communication ability, but it also, I think most importantly, test your clarity of. Of understanding who, who the church is, who the people are, and then what in particular, maybe God is leading you to do. So those are one of the things I really, really think that’s, that’s, uh, important. you know, we’ve looked at Nehemiah a little bit as we’ve talked about vision in this, this talk that I give and building momentum for change and the change equation, Verse five of chapter two when Nehemiah is broken by the condition of the city. and he mourns and he weeps and he prays and he fast before the Lord, he goes before the King. And here’s what he says. If it pleases the King. And if your servant has found favor in your sight, They send me to Judah, to the city of my father’s graves that I may rebuild it.
So in essence, what he’s doing here is he’s laying before kind of this test division, right? Hey King. you know, if I found favor in your [00:21:00] sight and if this is pleasing to you, would you send me to the city of my father’s that I could rebuild it? Right. And so this is a testing of the vision. And of course we know from reading the book of Nehemiah, that the King obviously senses that.
Yeah, this is something that God’s calling me a Maya too, and he affirms it and he sends him on his way. And so, you know, next time we pick up on this conversation, we’re going to talk about, okay, what do you do in the first steps? But, but I think looking at the development of a vision, seeing who affirms it and seeing the resonance that’s developed around it.
And then I would say too, that the ones who give the permission to, To go for it are, are the ones, you know, whom God has entrusted with the care and the, and the decision-making of the church so that you, you get that group of leaders. Or if you have to go before a congregation, you’re ultimately asking the congregation to buy into that vision too.
And so it’s gotta be clear, it’s gotta be compelling and it really does need to have the fingerprints of God around it for there to be a widespread unity and for success to take place. [00:22:00]
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, I would say clear, compelling, concise. you, you’ve got to see that this is a word from the Lord that it’s inspired by scripture. but also it has, I mean, it has to be actionable and applicable. it can’t be. You know, we’re going to reach everyone in Jacksonville, Florida. well that, I mean, that’s how, what are we going to, what are we going to do?
Right? There has to be some sort of understandable. What, what is my part in this? What is my role? How do I, how do I serve, you know, obedience in this? And, um, I’m, I think this is great stuff as, as in the thing is if, if people have gained a Holy Discontentment. Then they’re going to be hungry for direction and, uh, and the vision helps bring that clarity and direction to be able to take some first steps as we’ll talk about next time.
Uh, so the change equation again, Holy discontent. Plus vision plus first steps. Plus leadership is greater than a resistance to change. [00:23:00] So you guys next week,