Wednesday, June 02, 2010



CGO links to a blog post about a church changing from "contemporary" worship back to "traditional.
"Under his leadership one traditional service at Macedonia became three contemporary services. A few hundred members mushroomed into 2,500. I always assumed the contemporary worship at Macedonia was simply an expression of Barr’s theology or perhaps a sign of pragmatic pastoral savvy. But recently, I heard Macedonia was planning to reintroduce traditional worship to the congregation.

I had to find out why.

Much to my surprise, Macedonia’s services became contemporary in the first place partly because Barr couldn’t recruit musicians who read music. He could only hire those who play by ear.
Fascinating, but the two key points really are:
Leaders are catalysts for change. Change is what leaders do. But before we sign off on the next new thing, perhaps Christian leaders might be able to chart a better course if we stopped to consider why we’re headed where we’re going in the first place, and how this change helps us get there.
I find that to be a fascinating view of leadership. Leaders introduce change when change is what is needed to move the organization forward, but sometimes, organizations need return or preservation, not change. I suppose that is a form of change, but somehow the word "change" implies new when what is called for is doing the old better.

A lot of companies make this mistake. Years ago I worked for a company called RCA, formerly Radio Corporation of America. Once the premier maker of consumer electronics in the world. Today, what exists of RCA is a pure brand and there is very little of that. What happened?

Well, Japanese competition moved into the consumer electronics market and they were able to build things like televisions and radios cheaper and better than we were. Obviously a "change" was called for at RCA. So, what did RCA do? They went out and bought greeting card companies, finance companies, Hertz Rent-a-Car, and a few other and sundry organizations, none of which had anything to do with the manufacture, distribution and sales of consumer electronics. While those things healed the balance sheet, for a while, the company now had no idea what it was or where it was going.

Just a year after I left, it was purchased by General Electric, who promptly sold off all the various bits and pieces at a tidy little profit. Then they sold off the electronics manufacturing, what was left of it, to Thomson of France who within a few years closed all the former RCA plants, made product in their plants, slapped an RCA label on them and sold them in the USA.

I wonder what would have happened if rather than buy unrelated companies to heal the balance sheet RCA had reinvested in manufacturing consumer electronics - figured out a way to do what they did better? I wonder if those thousands of people might not still have jobs?

So, when you are changing the church, what are you doing? Healing the balance sheet or....?

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