Change Management

What is Change Management?

What is Change Management?

“Change management” is an intentional structured approach to either internal change (such as a change in attitude or perspective for a person) or external change (such as a change in the environment). Change can therefore affect individuals, teams, churches, other organizations and even societies. A change management approach seeks to smooth the transition from a current state to a desired future state. The “change” referred to in this context includes a broad array of possibilities.

  • From an individual perspective, the change may be a completely new behaviour.
  • From a work perspective, the change may be a new process or new technology.
  • From a church perspective, the change may be the incorporation of new people
  • From a societal perspective, the change may be a new public policy or the passing of new legislation.

Change management approaches

At the most simple level, there are two schools of thought that are considered to be the most effective change management approaches. The first of these is the centrally planned and “forced” change approach, which broadly advocates that a change is “brought about” by describing what the future will look like – a “grand vision” as it is sometimes called. Individuals and teams are then “recruited to the cause” progressively until a majority of people have made the transition or are willing to do so. The second approach is a more consultative one in which the broad drivers of change are described but individuals and teams are invited to think about and plan how it is to be accommodated and over what time frame.

This “push” and “pull” approach to managing change is very different, and creates highly varied reactions. The former often has the benefit of speed of transition but there is the negative impact of bad feelings in some quarters, as people’s needs are not well accommodated. The latter approach has the negative impact of typically having a given change initiative happening at a much slower pace but with the benefit of higher levels of commitment once the transition does finally take place. There is no ready answer to the question, “which approach works best in the long term?” as it naturally depends on each situation. Many churches and other organisations therefore take a project by project approach and quite simply adopt a “pull” approach if there is sufficient time and a “push” approach if there isn’t.


Colin Noyes is the Director of ResourceZone International. He has thirty years of ministry experience as a pastor, college lecturer and consultant/coach to consultants, denominational leaders and local church pastors.


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