Church Transitions -
leading your church through change:
"Dan Southerland is the founder and director of Church Transitions
Inc. Dan developed this process for change while serving as the
pastor/teacher of the Flamingo Road Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
During the thirteen years of his ministry at Flamingo Road, the
church made some major changes:
- Approach - from
being program driven to being purpose driven.
- Target - from
reaching believers to reaching the unchurched.
- Worship Style
- from traditional to contemporary....
- Leadership -
from a committee led church to being staff led. ...
- Small Groups
- from a traditional Sunday School model to a relational cell
these changes big time! ... About half of the events we do each
year are co-sponsored by Purpose Driven Ministries.
Transitioning: The central
question is this:
"There are plenty of dreams.... What we need is a process for leading
change. We teach a process for leading change that is:
- Biblical -
on the book of Nehemiah
- Proven - 100,000
plus church leaders have been trained
- Universal -
events held in different nations
- Practical -
eight simple steps of transition
To justify today's church
Dan Southerland uses the Book of Nehemiah. He twists God's Word
in order to equate his Christian critics with the enemies that
opposed Nehemiah and the faithful exiles that had returned with
him to Jerusalem.
For a glimpse of
their work of rebuilding the city wall in the midst of enemy
assaults, let's look at the Biblical version of Nehemiah 4.
Notice that Sanballat is not part of the Jewish people.
Like other foreigners who had taken over the land during the
long exile, he despised God and the restorative work of His
"But it so happened, when
Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall,
that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews.
And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria,
and said, 'What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they
fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they
complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the
heaps of rubbish—stones that are burned?'....
[Nehemiah's prayer] Hear, O our God, for we are despised;
turn their reproach on their own heads.... Do not cover
their iniquity, and do not let their sin be blotted out from
before You; for they have provoked You to anger before the
So we built the wall, and the
entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for
the people had a mind to work.
Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the
Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites
heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and
the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became
very angry, and all of them conspired together to come
and attack Jerusalem and create confusion.
Neverthelesswe made our prayer to our God, and because of
them we set a watch against them day and night." Nehemiah
Let's look at Southerland's usage
of to those Scriptures in his book Transitions, pages 114 through 118:
"Expect ridicule. If you have
read Nehemiah recently, you will remember that Sanballat is Nehemiah's
greatest critic and number one enemy. .... Sanballat is a leader
from hell.... We all have some Sanballats in our churches. This
is the guy who opposes whatever your propose. They guy who hates
what you like. The guy who wants to back up every time you want
to move forward. You cannot call this guy a leader from hell to
his face -- but you could call him Sanballat ....
"Check out good old Sanballat: He
ridiculed the Jews (Nehemiah 4:1b). The world for ridicule here
literally means to trouble, to rage against, to be indignant toward. Modern forms would include mocking, making fun of, putting down,
and being sarcastic.
"You will get some ridicule. One form
of ridicule that is popular today is name calling
[which is what
models]. A few of the
names that have been thrown at us are liberal, heretic, new ager,
manipulator, and false prophet (and those are just the names I get
called in staff meetings). Get the picture? You better expect some
"Expect criticism. Sanballat
is still at it. The leader from hell is trying to prevail. Look
at his next tirade: 'What are those feeble Jews doing?...
"We have experienced two major sources
of criticism during our transitions. The first is
more traditional backgrounds. They sometimes struggle with transitions
in the church. Not all of our traditional backgrounded Christians
have been critical -- just the ornery ones. Our second source of criticism
is traditional church pastors. Again, not all traditional church
pastors--just the meaner ones. I believe that is because they do
not understand what we are doing. I hope it is not our of jealousy
of our results....
"Expect a fight. If you think
your opposition will go away without a fight, think again. ... Notice
what Nehemiah's opposition group is up to: 'Before they know it
or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them
and put an end to the work.'" Nehemiah 4:11
"Our OK Corral-style shoot-out came
during a deacon's meeting. One deacon decided it was time to confront
me in front of twenty other deacons.....So in a two minute explosion,
he said that I had quit preaching the gospel, that I did not care
that people were leaving the church, and that the new music we were
doing was awful. He concluded... with a statement: "We need to go
back to the way we used to do church!" ...
"I said, "This is where I have to
go. I must do church for the unchurched; I can't go back
to doing church for the already convinced...."
According to many change agent pastors
today, the way to avoid such opposition is to reach out to the unchurched
who don't know the Bible or God's guidelines, therefore have no
basis for criticizing the switch from Biblical order to secular
management systems. See