The major action to ensure successful change is to strengthen the capacity of the balancing process to cope with challenges.

I. Senge’s Solution: A Prescription for Successful Change

            Leadership takes place in the reinforcing process and brings a trend of change. Management occurs in the balancing process and brings stability. Change occurs when the Balancing process can maintain stability while incorporating the changing trend of the reinforcing process into standard operating procedure. The major action to ensure successful change is to strengthen the capacity of the balancing process to cope with challenges.[1] Successful change is therefore incremental, enhances quality of life and is a matter of quality management of details in the balancing process. Senge’s Solution involves strengthening the adaptive competence of the system to cope, and then letting the system deal with any problems that arise. Management processes focused on improving quality are often sufficient to turn around a declining system.

J. In a Limits to Growth situation, Senge asserts, pushing the reinforcing loop to force change on the system fails; it is the quality of the balancing process to cope that is the limiting factor for change, whether the reinforcing process is positive or negative. While all change begins with leadership, it is management of the balancing process that is essential to effective change rather than leadership acting in the reinforcing process.

K. Laity lead in successful change as a reinforcing process while pastors soothe the balancing process, maintain homeostasis, and care for the traditional church. If pastors ignore the management of details and the smooth operation of the church to advocate change, disruption triggers a balancing response which prevents change.





[1] The quote is a selection from David O. Kueker’s Fuller Seminary Doctor of Ministry project submitted in September, 2007, entitled Diagnosis, Dialogue, and Decision: A Threefold Process of Revitalization For the Illinois Great Rivers Conference.
It is shared here in recognition of its 12th Anniversary along with comments to update and provide perspective on the material. The original project was a Training Manual/Study Guide of three Seminars supported by three chapters of research and an Introduction. The material is available for download at In 2009 it was provided for purchase as a softcover book entitled Designing Discipleship Systems: Christian Disciple Making For Any Size Church, Any Theology through

[2][3] [4][5] [6][7] [8]

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.

[1]Senge, Fifth Discipline, 101-102. Covey refers to this as PC or Production Capacity; Covey’s P/PC balance describes the Limits to Growth archetype phenomenon. Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Restoring The Character Ethic (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1989), 52-60, 171-172, 202-203, 288-289. Different terms are used in Peter L. Steinke, Healthy Congregations: A Systems Approach (Herndon, VA: Alban Institute, 1996), 8-9.

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