In an article at his Sacred Structures website, Jim Baker points out that “Acts 15 illustrates that effectively leading change in the church involves a process of listening attentively to the movement of the Holy Spirit, to Scripture, religious tradition, respected believers, noted experts and pertinent facts.
Here are the steps to that process and a potential application for leading change in the church:
1. They listened to the conversion experience of the Gentiles. Application: Listen to those most impacted by the change.
2. They listened to the Pharisee experts in Mosaic Law. Application: Listen to those most opposed to the change.
3. They listened to respected believers witnessing these conversions. Application: Listen to respected lay leaders supporting the change.
4. They listened to Peter’s perspective. Application: Listen to the pastor and staff’s perspective.
5. They listened to Paul and Barnabas’ descriptions of signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles. Application: Listen to experts who have observed and experienced the impact of the change.
6. They listened to James expounding on Scripture connecting the dots between Peter’s testimony and the words of Amos. Application: Listen to what God’s Word has to say.
7. They listened to the Holy Spirit: “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.” Application: Allow people time to pray and hear from God regarding the change.
8. They voted on the change: “Then the apostles and the elders, with the consent of the whole church decided.” Application: Allow the church to vote on the change.
“When the people of Antioch read the letter, they rejoiced at the exhortation.” The right and happy result of this difficult change was that God’s will had been clearly understood and followed. The fact the early church leaders had taken such care in listening, discerning and implementing change in unity was a cause for great celebration.
This story illustrates listening is the primary language of change leadership and is deeply rooted in the biblical record. Techniques, principles and skills in particular change management disciplines do not give us the power to lead change effectively, but listening to God and others does.” (Sacred Structures)