Quotes and Excerpts - Management

Excerpts from

Church Transitions

and Dan Southerland's Transitions

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 group model.

"God blessed 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 - based 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 "transitions," 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 faithful people:

"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 builders.

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 4:1-9

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 Southerland 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 ridicule.

"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 Christians from 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 Megashift


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