In his book Deep Change – Discovering the Leader Within, author Robert E. Quinn writes about the dynamic and constant change that all of us face in our professional lives. According to Quinn, we can respond to this continuous change in one of two ways; we can ignore change at our own, and our organization’s peril, or we can embrace change and use it as a catalyst to make our teams and organizations stronger and more resilient.
Mike Bonem recognized the impact change was having on congregational leaders serving across a range of roles and responsibilities. As facilitator of TMF’s Executive Leadership Learning Community, he witnessed the many challenges faced by pastors dealing with change, from expanding the number of worshipers in a congregation to the day-to-day issues of managing an organization to better understanding the many different ways people express their faith in the 21st Century.
So when Bonem, a former consultant at McKinsey and company, was asked to facilitate another Learning Community focused on Deep Change, he relished the opportunity of leading a diverse group of leaders, each working to address the multi-faceted challenges of change in their own professional environments.
“The Deep Change Learning Community focuses primarily on helping clergy and lay leaders who are working to deal with the deep changes facing their respective congregations, as well as the Church at large,” explains Bonem.
“The group is an ideal vehicle for discussing and exploring all of the different aspects of change, and learning from each other about strategies and tools for addressing change that lead to positive outcomes for the entire congregation.”
Rev. Linda Haskew, Executive Director of Ministries and Operations at Sugarland United Methodist Church was one of the original members of the Deep Change Learning Community.
“The Deep Change group in an incredible resource for gaining a broader perspective of how change is affecting our peers, as well as to learn from each other about what works and what doesn’t,” says Haskew. “The Deep Change book was a great jumping off point, but our group quickly started examining new ideas about what we could do bring to the table. Sometimes you’re so busy in your day-to-day activities that you don’t realize your own potential to be an agent of change.”
Of the 14 members of the group, half are clergy and half are lay leaders. There are eight men and five women, with members from Texas, Louisiana and New Mexico.
Rev. Pattye Hewitt, Executive Pastor at First United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge was thrilled when she was invited to join the Deep Change Learning Community in 2015.
“When Mike called me and started to tell me about what he was trying to do, I got very enthused about joining,” says Hewitt. “In fact, I went on to tell Mike about a great book I had read years earlier called Leading from the Second Chair. It was a little embarrassing when Mike told me that he had, in fact, written the book. But it also let me know I was joining the right group.”
The Deep Change Learning Community has already made a powerful impact on its members.
“I’ve learned so much about how to be better in my job. And happier,” explains Hewitt. “Between the guest speakers and listening to other people in the group, I know that there are tools and strategies for managing change, from developing a plan to following through to seeing the joy through the entire experience. The most amazing part is that it actually works!”
For Haskew, the group has helped her to realize other benefits that resonate deeply.
“What I really love about the Deep Change Learning Community is that it’s helped me to renew my focus on the fact that I am here to help others become disciples of Christ,” she says. “It’s not about me. It’s not about minor hassles. It’s about something much, much bigger. It’s about understanding the power of change, and using that understanding to reach those who don’t know Christ. It’s that simple. And that important.”