Urban Perspective: On Changing an Institution Bob Lupton
Changing an institution that is heavily vested in “the way we have always done it” is a major challenge, especially for a pastor whose job it is to keep that institution growing and keep the members reasonably happy. The last thing a leader wants is to stir up divisive controversy that could alienate good and faithful members. But a spiritual leader must also have integrity. So if it becomes apparent that change is necessary to ensure responsible care for the poor, there is no alternative but to act. But how?
In my experience, too much of church life, from the congregational to the denominational level, is about people trying to stop other people's programs and projects. Ironically, it is the direct assault on a cherished program that usually rallies the program's faithful to defend it, making it even more impervious to change or dissolution. Instead, energy needs to be focused on nurturing an alternative that will create energy and participation that leads in a new direction, drawing people to the new thing, letting the problem program wither and die a peaceful death. I think Lupton is giving a great example of this approach here. I wish more church leaders would think as creatively as this pastor and the congregation in Lupton's story below: