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The Leader As A Change Agent

There is one thing in any church that will never change…and that is the fact that everything changes. This makes change leadership essential. Factors that necessitate proper change management include external pressure; which can encompass competition, new technology, cost, and culture changes, as well as constantly changing economic and social conditions. Many organizational change management theories and models are based on Lewin’s unfreeze-change-refreeze theory. Lewin believed that the motivation to change was strongly related to action: If people are active in decisions affecting them, they are more likely to adopt new ways. He embraced the idea that change management proceeds in a circle of steps. The steps embrace the idea of:

  • Unfreeze – becoming motivated to change: Faced with a dilemma or disconfirmation, the individual or group becomes aware of a need to change even though there may be resistance to said change
  • Transition (or Change) – change what needs to be changed or moving to a new state: The situation is diagnosed and new models of behavior are explored and tested.
  • Refreeze – making the change permanent: Application of new behavior is evaluated, and if reinforcing, adopted

The cycle begins with a series of planning actions initiated by the leader who works as a change agent. This model can be adopted by church leaders as they become change agents in order to be effective in a constantly changing culture.


Lewin, K. (1948) Resolving Social Conflicts. Selected papers on group dynamics, New York: Harper and Row

Lewin, K. (1951) Field Theory in Social Science, New York: Harper and Row