Our Changing World

In June and July we are hosting three evenings at St Paul’s under the title “Church – Past Present & Future.” The intention of these evenings is to explore some of the background to the nature of the church in the 21st century and how we as the church need to continue to adapt and change.

This week I’ve been reading Graeme Codrington’s latest book and include some quotes below.

Please put the following dates in your diary and come along:

June 22nd 7.30pm – Growing The Vision
July 6th 7.30pm – Christmas!


The presentation that Ben Mizen shared with us on Generations took much of the inspiration from the work of Graeme Codrington. This week I’ve been reading Graeme’s latest book entitled ‘Leading in a Changing World.’ So far I’m about half way through the book and it makes interesting, and challenging, reading.

Here are some quotes from what I have read so far:

Jack Welch is credited with saying that ‘when the rate of change outside exceeds the rate of change inside, the end is in sight.’

‘The thinking that created the problems we are facing will not generate the solutions we need.’ Albert Einstein

Graeme identifies three fundamental forces that he says are causing deep, structural change in the world today: Technology, Institutions and Societal Values.

Technology has transformed the way in which we do business. Never before has so much information been available to so many, so quickly. In the past, information was powerful in so far as it was guarded.
Today, exactly the opposite is true: information is valuable only as far as it is shared.

When it comes to the institutions in which we work it is apparent that the nature of the beast is changing. Central organizational models, supported by impressive hierarchical structures, chain of command and clearly defined functions are giving way to decentralised models … The values and mechanisms used to keep this status quo well-oiled and functioning are a thing of the past.

We need to consider shifting social values … Generation X and Y’s behaviour, driven by their underpinning values, stands in stark contrast to that of those with whom they share their workspace … A simple example of this difference is the contrasting way in how the different generations approach authority and respect. For Generation X respect has to be earned and has nothing to do with title or position. Of course this isn’t the case with older generations for whom title and position garners immediate respect … The new generations need change, flexibility, informality and information. They are individualistic and are asking different questions of their employees.

Deep structural, disruptive change is the norm in the world at the moment. We are living through more than an era of change – we have reached an inflection point in history, and are now living in an era where processes, systems, structures, products, services and careers no longer change — they transform. The bad news is that this era is not going to go away. We firmly believe that the overwhelming majority of change we’re going to experience in our lifetimes is still ahead of us.

Every few hundred years in Western history there occurs a sharp transformation… Fifty years later, there is a new world. And the people born then cannot even imagine the world in which their grandparents lived.’ Peter Drucker

If we’re living in a new world, then new approaches to leadership are required. But are we really living in such a new world? Isn’t this just a blip in history that will soon be over? Isn’t history always changing anyway? It’s easy to think that maybe all we need to do to survive this crazy world we live in right now is just grit our teeth a little bit longer and wait for sanity to return, and then our existing models will still be valid. Hopefully soon, we think, the current madness will subside and then we can get back to ‘business as usual’.

But this is not going to happen. The signs are everywhere and they’re all pointing in one direction: we are living through one of those moments in history when all the rules for success and failure get rewritten. We’re living through a period of structural change and realignment. Every so often, history stops its relentless forward march, takes an abrupt turn and heads off in a new direction. This is often linked to a new technological development, which changes how people live, interact and work. We name these moments in history to mark their importance: The Industrial Revolution, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the Renaissance.

A dependance on what worked in the past, coupled with the assumption that ‘we have been here before’ – will prove fatal.

We unwittingly employ old practices in the face of new problems – with disastrous results. Invariably all that is accomplished is that we end up digging the hole we are in, faster!

If it is true that we are living in a world, society and community that is changing rapidly, and some would say out of all recognition – then what does this mean for the church? How, if at all, does the church need to change? What is there that we should stop doing? What new things should we start doing? Are we willing to experiment and take risks, knowing that many will result in failure? What are the essentials that must be retained and how can we do that at the same time as trying new things?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Graeme’s book you can download it here: Leading in a Changing World – Chapter 1

More information about Graeme and his organisation can be found here: www.tomorrowtodayglobal.com

I look forward to seeing many of you on Monday evening as we explore these areas together.