Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Culture Change is Tough... but Worth It.

I watched "Remember the Titans" last week - a movie I've seen many times, a movie I really enjoy (if you haven't seen it I highly recommend it - but I may just ruin a little of the story line for you as you keep reading).

Coach Boon (Denzel Washington) is placed in a pretty rough spot... in 1971 the desegregation of schools in a town in Virginia creates a boiling pot of emotion... someone high up has decided race is no longer a boundary (which we all know is the right thing), but it hasn't been realised in the practical workings of society yet where ignorance continues to feed horrid racism. And here is Boon, a black man, given the role of head coach over the school's new mixed football team.

The whole scenario is complete chaos. yet Boon approaches the whole situation with a clear vision of what the team will be - and a unwavering resolve on what he expects his football team to be. No matter black or white... no matter the chaos race and racism has created... his team will reach the goal he has set from the vision he has of what his team can be. But in the middle of the chaos what does he need to do? Lay down his standard. It's no longer black and white... it's defence and offence (I love that scene where he makes them get off the bus and reorganise themselves). He makes them bunk with someone from the other race and get to know their all their teammates, not just those they want to hang out with. What he does is put them in uncomfortable positions to break the current culture and set the tide for the new better culture (and what we know today as the proper and right culture).

The first part of the movie depicts really well how tough culture change is - how chaos turns into unrest as order is forced upon it. How some people can't take the pressure of that unrest and walk away - both boys on the team and even some of Coach's own staff decide that they can't change to fit the new culture... and Boon let's them go - even when he's hurt that they are going and doesn't want them too. Some of the boys need to be benched and rested - taught to support the team and not be in the spot light for their own glory. Some need to learn that they need to sacrifice for the good of others... All of them need to learn that there is authority and order in the world and are the better for learning to come under Coach's authority as it teaches them something about the real world too.

And when it clicks... when that new culture takes shape and Boon's vision for the team comes to fruition then they are a mighty force to behold, and produce the perfect season.

At different times in our ministries culture needs to change. I'm dealing with that at multiple different levels over different ministries at the moment, some of them just growing and changing and some of them sitting in a space of chaos that needs to find order and restitution.  Not that our ministries reflect the aims and goals of football - but if we consider that we are on a mission, that Jesus set us to, about going into the world and making disciples of all nations, and all that entails, then we have a distinct goal to reach - and that creates a vision of what we see God has planned for our ministries.

So when the culture of the ministry doesn't fit the vision of what it could be, then it needs to change.  And change only happens if the leader holds unswervingly to the vision of what it can be.  They lay down the structure and standard of what is needed, and they take their team along with them, guiding them to catch that vision too.  Like in the movie, this can cause unrest - order to chaos always does - and it can even mean some people who can't catch the vision moving on...

But when it clicks... when the vision is grabbed and it surges forward to work in the way it is meant to, then it's a great place to be, it's effective, and in our circumstance... it is when God will be most glorified.

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