Motion without progress describes a church just going through the motions, stuck in tradition, spinning its wheels, doing things because, ”That’s the way we’ve always done them”. Is Northern Hills stuck in tradition? Those who attend would chuckle at this question and any staff would look at you like you were speaking a foreign language. The only thing constant about Northern Hills is change.
So why draw your attention to this blog post? Because Coppedge makes another insightful point that Northern Hills has been accused of. Change for the sake of change – racing about like an unguided rocket. Northern Hills has gone through constant evolution through its life with some of the biggest transformations coming in the last three years. At times it has felt a bit chaotic, out of control, and on the verge of crashing. With that some very old friends and long time members have felt uncomfortable enough to leave and seek a church that feels better to them. My solace is
knowing that Northern Hills always strives for effectiveness and impact. To my recollection we have never initiated change for the sake of change. Who has the energy for that?
So why couldn’t they navigate the journey with Northern Hills? My guess is that it was just too painful for them. They had longed for times they saw as Northern Hills’ glory days. Times that we had reached a growth peak they were comfortable with, and had achieved a high level of stability (read: non-change). I didn’t quite fully understand this pain or the yearning for ‘glory days’ until Rob Kelly pointed me to this blog post by Seth Godin. It’s a must read.
So how do we endure the times of change and aching for the past? Coppedge advises, “When you expend extra energy with change, make sure you communicate the value of that change with your lay leadership and volunteers while simultaneously providing a leadership structure that makes the change as smooth as possible.” I believe Northern Hills has done a solid job at this, but every organization has its blind spots. And I’ve realized that people have various individual levels of tolerance for change. If you keep growing, like any healthy church should, not everyone will endure the change and make the journey with you.