The Wisdom of Small Cuts.

L. Most accepted leadership prescriptions for change in churches guarantee failure by increasing anxiety in the name of urgency, pushing an agenda, and attempting to overwhelm the balancing process with an atmosphere of fear and crisis.[1] Accepted, standard procedures for change are contraindicated; they push the trend, increase stress in the system and trigger a thermostat response.

M. The Wisdom of Small Cuts. When positive changes are small, routine and predictable, the system finds it a simple matter to cope with change. When positive changes are large, infrequent and unexpected, the system reacts to the change as a threat and mobilizes resistance for protection. Change needs to come in the form of thousands of small cuts from the sharp teeth of a saw rather than heavy blows from an axe which shake the whole tree.

HOMEWORK Discussion Questions:

1.12 How many examples of problems can you list, identify reinforcing and balancing processes and create a Senge’s Solution approach that could resolve the problem?





[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]For example, see: Lyle Schaller, The Change Agent (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1972), 89-103. John P. Kotter, Leading Change (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 1996), 35-49. Tom Peters, The Circle of Innovation: You Can’t Shrink Your Way to Greatness (New York: Harper & Row, 1997).

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