Movement: A culture of constant personal and corporate growth and improvement is enabled through effective change management, self-development and a leadership pipeline

The “Secret Sauce” of Leading Organizational Change

There is an old adage that states, “Organizations don’t change; people change and they change organizations.”

It is well documented that fully 75-85% of all change initiatives fail to be fully implemented. Typically this is because people fail to adapt to a new way of doing things and even adopt behaviors resistant to the change.

As a church change leader you are asked to help move the staff and congregation successfully through the change curve. So, how do you help individuals navigate through the complexities of church organizational change?

First, we noted in the post The Psychology of Change in the Church that you must understand the psychology and nature of change.

Secondly, in the posts An 8 Step Process for Organizational Change and An 8 Step Biblical Process for Leading Change, we explained the importance of knowing proven organizational change leadership processes.

Thirdly, in a series of posts, such as By the Inch it is a Cinch – The Incremental Approach to Change and The Observer Effect On Leading Change, we shared the importance of having a tool kit of change management techniques and skills at your disposal.

In addition, and maybe just as importantly, you need to be aware of the “secret sauce” of leading organizational change. A secret that will move yourself, your staff and your congregation through change more efficiently and effectively.

What is the “Secret Sauce?”

The “secret sauce” is a cornerstone skill for the change leader that increases your ability to lead, plan, communicate, manage and implement change.

It is the key to ensuring people understand the change and adapt their attitudes and behaviors to adopt the change. And, it is the key to people becoming actively engaged in the planning and implementation of any change.

So, what is this “secret sauce?” It is the power of the question.

Why Ask Questions?

People can handle change, even if it is unwanted or thrust upon them, if they can receive answers to core and meaningful questions.

Quite simply, questions hold the power to cause us to think, consider answers we believe in, and motivate us to act on those solutions.

Questions also redefine relationships between a leader and his or her followers. When I am in mentor or “telling” mode, I am the expert. When I ask questions, I’m a peer communicating your value as an equal.

And asking questions changes you. The conversations become less about your opinions about the proposed change and how you can steer the conversation to the answers you want. You start listening intently and seeing how capable people really are.

What are the Right Questions?

Categorized below are a series of sample questions to draw from when preparing for, leading and managing organizational change initiatives. Facilitating these questions, and others, with groups of individuals most impacted by the change will help create the necessary environment, attitude and behaviors for success.

Meaningful Foundational Questions

  • Why do we need to change? Why is this important? How will it make a difference?
  • What’s the change all about? How will we accomplish it?
  • What’s in it for me/us?
  • How will you help me/us throughout the change?
  • Who is behind the proposed change?
  • How do we know God is in this?


  • How does our church’s past connect to the proposed change?
  • How has our church approached change throughout its history?
  • How is the proposed change consistent with our church’s DNA?

Key Leaders

  • How does scripture and our mission, vision and values align with the proposed change?
  • How can we model, advocate and communicate the proposed change?
  • Who are the other key influencers we need to get on board?
  • How will we reward positive behaviors and discourage unwanted ones in our teams?
  • How does the church and staff culture need to change if the proposed change is to be embraced?

Staff and Volunteers

  • What new knowledge and skills are required? How can that support best be delivered?
  • What new or modified organizational structures are required?
  • How do current job descriptions need to be modified to support the proposed change?
  • What new staff need to be hired and new volunteers recruited to support the proposed change?

Processes and Systems

  • How will existing processes and systems support the proposed change?
  • How do existing processes and systems need adapting to support the proposed change?
  • What new processes and systems need to be developed to support the proposed change?

Budget and Capital Expenditures

  • How will the current budget support the proposed change?
  • How will we reallocate the current budget to support the proposed change?
  • What new financial resources are required to support the proposed change?
  • How will current facilities and furnishings be used to support the proposed change?
  • What additional facilities, furnishings and capital expenditures are required to support the change?


  • How will our current technology support the proposed change?
  • What new technologies are required to support the proposed change?
  • What technology barriers and opportunities are there?

Measures and Controls

  • How will we measure success? What measures are most important?
  • What controls, policies and procedures are needed to support the proposed change?


  • What demographics within and without the church need to know of the proposed change?
  • What channels will be used to communicate the proposed change?
  • How will we acknowledge and celebrate as the proposed change is embraced?


When thinking about shaping people’s attitudes and behaviors towards a proposed change, remember the “secret sauce” of powerful questions, and ask as many questions in as many categories specific to your church as possible.

With each question take care to choose the appropriate questioning verb:

  • “What could be done……….?”
  • “What should be done……..?”
  • “What must be done……….?”
  • “What will we do……………?”

And, make thorough use of the six interrogative pronouns: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How?

As you do you will discover the power of the question makes things happen like no other change management process, tool or technique.


Posted on February 17, 2015

Jim Baker

Jim is a Church Organizational Leadership and Management Coach, Consultant and Trainer. Throughout his career Jim has demonstrated a passion for showing Pastors and Ministers how to use organizational tools for church and personal growth and health.

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“For I may be absent in body, but I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see how well ordered you are and the strength of your faith in Christ.” Colossians 2:5