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Spare Change: And Introduction to Systems Thinking &Congregational Change Rev. Joan Van Becelaere Ohio-Meadville District.

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Presentation on theme: "Spare Change: And Introduction to Systems Thinking &Congregational Change Rev. Joan Van Becelaere Ohio-Meadville District."— Presentation transcript:


2 Spare Change: And Introduction to Systems Thinking &Congregational Change Rev. Joan Van Becelaere Ohio-Meadville District

3 Overview This time is to acquaint you with a few basic introductory elements of systems thinking and congregational change process. We won’t have enough time for in-depth discussions. (But more is offered at UULTI) The primary focus is to help shift the way we perceive change and reactions to change in the congregation.

4 Spare Change “The rate of paradigm shift (technical innovation) is accelerating, right now doubling every decade. We will see more change in the next 20 years than we saw in the last 100. And then things will really speed up from there.” Ray Kurzweil

5 Spare Change How is your congregational currently changing? How does this transition influence members and staff? How is this change influencing me?

6 Spare Change SYSTEM THINKING To think “System” is to think in a unique way. focus on the relationships that exist among discrete parts things do not exist independently, only in relationships to something else the whole cannot be understood by simply understanding each part things only function as they do because of the presence of one another

7 Spare Change SYSTEM THINKING nothing is influenced in one direction each part contributes to what is happening change in one part produces change in other parts the mutual maintenance of behavior, system stability the interactions between different people affect the whole relationships are not merely interesting-that’s all there is!!!



10 Spare Change “Even more important,” he said, “is the way complex systems seem to strike a balance between the need for order and the imperative to change. Complex systems tend to locate themselves at a pace we call “the edge of chaos.” We imagine the edge of chaos as a place where there is enough innovation to keep a living system vibrant and enough stability to keep it from collapsing into anarchy. It is a zone of conflict and upheaval, where the old and the new are constantly at war. Finding the balance must be a delicate matter…Only at the edge of chaos can complex systems flourish.” Michael Crichton

11 Spare Change “When chaos strikes, transformation begins. The Spirit of a people enters a critical process with possible end results ranging from dissolution to the emergence of a radically new, more complex, adaptive organization. The process itself is that of grief working, enabling us to let go of what was in preparation for what is yet to be.” Harrison Owen


13 Spare Change GRIEF REACTION TO CHANGE Shock and Anger Denial Memories Open Space - Despair Open Space - Silence Questioning/Imagining New Vision

14 Spare Change Recall a time of great change in your life. It does not matter whether the change was positive and exciting (the birth of a child) or negative and difficult (a divorce or the loss of a job). Begin at the point where you first received news of this change and recall the feelings you had as you lived through the change. Think about the sequence in which you felt those reactions.


16 Spare Change Ronald Heifetz Leadership Without Easy Answers “Leaders do not need to know all the answers. They do need to ask the right questions.”




20 Spare Change know that our congregations are interdependent systems. face the reality of change ourselves, know the stages and signs of grief and where we are located in our own personal process. realize that people go through the grief process at different rates. work to make our congregations truly safe places where people learn to accept change, work with it, and create a new vision of the future.

21 Spare Change “One of the biggest flaws in the common conception of the future is that the future is something that happens to us, not something we create.” Michael Anissimov What does it mean to believe that we create our future? What would it mean for our lives if we lived as if this statement were true?

22 Warning: Blatant Advertising to Follow!

23 UULTI 2008– Live the Promise Turn Outward in Faith July 28 – Aug 3, 2008 Juniata College, Huntingdon PA UULTI (Unitarian Universalist Leadership Team Institute) is a week-long residential learning experience. Its practical tools and powerful ideas will help renew faith, embrace congregational growth and change, welcome and nurture all, and fulfill the hopeful loving promise of Unitarian Universalism in the wider world.

24 Who should attend? Board members, ministers, committee chairs, religious education professionals, treasurers, administrators, musicians, and other current or emerging leaders. In particular: Individuals from smaller congregations, encouraged (by discounts!) to form geographically- based learning teams. Teams from larger congregations that include lay leaders, part-time or full-time ministers, and all other congregational staff. WWW.UULTI.ORG

25 Spare Change Thank you for being here today!

26 Bibliography Leading Change in the Congregation: Spiritual and Organizational Tools for Leaders by Gilbert R. Rendle. Alban Institute. The Power of Spirit: How Organizations Transform by Harrison Owen. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Memories, Hope and Conversations: Appreciative Inquiry and Congregational Change by Mark Lau Branson. Alban Institute.


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