Radical change is never easy, especially in a tradition oriented institution. Church revolution is not for the faint of heart. We will experience more failures than we do success. It will always be two steps forward, one step back. One things for sure though, the sacrifices that we give for cause is all worth it. Let us also not forget that the leader whom we serve was the first revolutionary who gave His life for the sake of the Church and we are simply following His footsteps.
The traditional Church is one place where radical change very seldom occurs without blood being spilled on the floor. The call for exaggeration has two reasons. First, the Church has an emphasis on the spiritual dimension, making its leaders being esteemed with deep reverence and respect. Really, who wants to mess with God’s messenger? Dissenting with the practices of the institution makes one a fool, at worse, a heretic and history has been very explicit about how the church deals with heretics. Second, the institution runs on volunteer blood that is deeply built on altruism. It is hard for change to take root when your workforce has every reason to leave, even at slightest sign of discomfort. Despite all these challenges, change is not only possible, it is necessary if we wish for the Church to survive let alone prosper and fulfill its God-ordained mission in this society of secularism and indifference.
What I have written here is an adaptation of Gary Hamel’s teaching applied in the context of Church work. Inspired by Gary Hamel’s “Leading the Revolution”, I immediately put its principles into practice, transforming myself from a mindless drone into an activist (or heretic depending upon your side of view). I hope this will help renegades in getting their ideas communicated and acted upon.
The Process of Insurrection
Step 1: Create a clear viewpoint
Before you start an insurrection you have to have a clear viewpoint. What do you want to be happening? Why does it matter? These two questions will serve as the acid test for your concept.
Step 2: Load up your elevator speech.
Shoot it straight and keep it short. Short means memorable. Transform your ideas into simple axioms so it’s easy to remember. Prepare your speech as if you only get one shot to sell your idea to the key leader but only during a one-floor elevator ride.
Step 3: Find your audience, build your stage
A clear viewpoint microwaved into an axiom is your blade. Now it’s time to start hacking some meat. I’m sure you have people in your network who’s open to your ideas. Invite them out and talk to them one on one. Then gather your audience, build your stage and sell like hell. Two questions you must ask yourself are who are the people who can help you make your idea happen and how do you plan to recruit them?
Step 4: Experiment on a small scale, go underground ONLY if necessary.
In order for you to convince the entire institution about your idea, you have to show them first that it actually works. Start a “spark group” with a few people as your samplers. The smaller the experiment, the cheaper the resources needed to implement the idea and the easier to fix start-up bugs. The church world is extremely intolerant to dissent so if sensed in the environment, isolate the project somewhere beyond the jurisdiction of the organization.
Note: If you really believe that this idea of yours is of benefit for the church, then I would strongly recommend going underground. I’d rather apologize to God for being too creative for the sake of the church than for disregarding the processes of men. Besides, God’s grace is always at the table.
Step 5: Assess impact while recruiting more samplers
The result of the spark group will serve as your platform and entitlement for another round of experiment. Take advantage of the wisdom of the crowd gained from this experience. Ask the samplers their input on how to improve the next round while at the same time recruiting more samplers by communicating the experimentation and its result. The goal is to expose as much people to the idea and let them experience it first hand.
Step 6: Launch integration campaign
Experiments that work are meant to be integrated as part of the culture. After about half a dozen beta rounds and constant refinement of the experiments, you’re about ready to introduce the initiative into the whole community. Together with the samplers (by this time you’ve built a confederation), go for the kill. Request a hearing from the key leaders and advocate your cause. Talk about your viewpoint, why it is important, and communicate the success you’ve been getting after executing this initiative and most importantly, ask their help and show them how they can contribute in making this initiative more successful.
Values of a Revolutionary
The speed of informality built on trust
Err on the side of over-communicating
Absolute humility in accepting ideas that refine your concept
Resiliency birthed out of love for people
Overcommunicate - The more you communicate, the more you improve in selling your idea.
Start small - Small experiments are easier to fix, easier to kill, and very cheap.
Go underground ONLY if necessary - Radical ideas are easily killed if visible to the defenders of the status quo. Isolate your experiment (another advantage of smallness) where it can grow.