Nigel Ring on June 21st, 2017

‘Kotter’s 8 Step Process for Leading Change’ was introduced last week as a helpful model for understanding and managing change, particularly when used in conjunction with a Strategic Planning Process and associated Strategic Plan. It’s important to reiterate that while Kotter’s steps appear linear, there needs to be concurrent/parallel activity which is overlaid and aligned with the Strategic Plan.

Kotter’s model is not, in my opinion, a strategy in itself, but rather a very good overlay to optimise the likelihood of success. The steps are shown in the diagram below:

We will now look at the first step in ‘Creating a Climate for Change’ which Kotter describes as:

Step 1 – ‘Establish a Sense of Urgency’

Change is difficult, transformation is very difficult. Without a genuine sense of urgency, minor change will falter and transformation will not progress from anything more than an idea. The Great Commission has a strong sense of urgency, yet for many of us, that urgency gets lost in a sea of activities and ‘being busy’, leaving little time for even considering a sense of urgency, let alone doing anything about it. Of course, urgency does exist, but what are we urgent about?

Leaders rarely tell you they have sufficient spare capacity to create and deliver strategic change and direction for their organisations, yet if they’re not doing this, it raises a serious question about whether they are actually leading. Maybe they are just delivering a 24/7 set of management activities on a rudderless ship.

Leadership capacity and expectation
Returning to the notion of organisational drift being what’s currently predictable without leadership intervention, then a key role of leadership is to intervene in that drift, create a sense of urgency, and make something happen that wasn’t going to happen already. Until leaders are equipped to increase their leadership capacity, rather than the amount of hours they work, they will return time after time to stories of how difficult it is, the peculiarity/uniqueness of their circumstances and a host of reasons why they can’t actually lead. Perhaps there is indeed ‘nothing new under the sun’.

If the senior leader and senior leadership team themselves have no true sense of urgency, then we shouldn’t expect others to be excited, enrolled, inspired or motivated. Don’t export something you don’t believe in yourself. Evidence of urgency will ultimately be seen through people behaving differently and relentlessly purging the non-essential to make capacity for the most important activities.

Next week we will look at the next 2 steps in ‘Creating a Climate for Change’.

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Nigel Ring on June 15th, 2017

Are you radical?
Radical is a word that gets a bad press these days yet taken back to its origin it is a good word – roots (Latin – radix). Do you know your roots?

500 years on
On October 31st we will be celebrating 500 years since Martin Luther posted 95 theses for debate on the church door in Wittenberg. This was the root of the Reformation. Following his striving to please a righteous God, whom he saw with increasing dislike and as a god of anger and hatred, he discovered in the Bible that God does not wait for us to be attractive in order to love us but loves us first!

Others were discovering the same truth. One, William Tyndale, was burdened that people could not easily access the Bible in their own language; he wanted ordinary people to be able to read the scriptures and so translated the Bible. This was hated by the authorities and he was martyred in 1535. Following Christ was not for the faint hearted. Yet, shortly after that Henry VIII commanded that a translated Bible should be placed in every church.

Paid with their lives
Others who paid with their lives for pursuing the truth were the Bishops Latymer and Ridley, the great reformers; they were burnt at the stake in Oxford in 1554 to be followed shortly by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer.

Social impact
But a fire had been lit which could not be put out. Amongst many other benefits the Reformation released a tidal wave of social improvement: the abolition of the slave trade, the ending of the sale of young girls into prostitution, the outlawing of small boys being sent up chimneys as sweeps, the provision of education, food and housing for the poor, to name a few examples.

Informative and Evangelistic
Freedom Movement is an attractively illustrated book of less than forty pages. It not only records the key events and people involved in the Reformation but also presents the gospel clearly in an accessible form. As such it is a book for both Christians and those seeking after truth.

Priced at £4.99 per copy, but only £1 per copy for orders of 25 or more, it is amazing value for money! I strongly recommend it. Buy it, read it and give it away.

Thank God for the world changing reformation recovering the truth of the all-sufficient cross of Christ! As Michael Reeves points out in his inspiring text, prior to the Reformation religion was disguising the problem rather than solving it. Five hundred years later people from around the world with open Bibles celebrate the rediscovery of light that dispelled their overwhelming darkness.
Terry Virgo, Founder and Teacher, Newfrontiers

Running through this little book on the Reformation is the surprising legacy of joy. The fact that we have no portraits of any Reformers smiling is a fluke of history. Nobody smiled for portraits until fifty years ago! If you want to know what made this movement explosively joyful, don’t look at the pictures, read the book.
John Piper, Founder and Teacher,



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Nigel Ring on June 13th, 2017

Where are you going?
A successful change or transformation programme has many components. However, unless leadership provides clarity on what a programme seeks to achieve, there is unlikely ever to be more than loose directional alignment and half-hearted commitment.

Many organisations, including churches, have no clear framework within which they dream or deliver, preferring to describe their strategy in terms of the collection of (often good) activities that they undertake. But these may not flow from a clearly articulated vision, supported by a top level strategy, through to a set of plans, delivered by highly motivated, enrolled and equipped people.

Be specific, succinct and clear
Vision statements (the ‘where’) should be future-based and inspire, and give direction to members of the organisation, rather than necessarily to the external community. They should be inspirational, clear, memorable, and concise. Unfortunately, many vision statements are quite the opposite and are a muddle of mission statements and long-winded, non-specific descriptions.

As part of, or in addition to, a vision statement, some form of specific measurement can be very helpful – ‘What gets measured gets done’. Many leaders prefer not to have anything against which to measure their performance, preferring the apparent benefit of not being on the hook for anything, thereby eliminating any prospect of ‘failure’. The success of the organisation is dependent on leaders who are prepared to take a stand for something bigger than themselves, despite not knowing exactly how they will get there as they set off on the journey.

How will you get there?
Strategy is the way in which the organisation will go about unlocking the vision. Priorities, plans, resources and many, many other things then flow from the vision and strategy to ensure ‘top to bottom’ and ‘bottom to top’ alignment. With clear alignment, clear line of sight, and everyone knowing and being valued for their part in the strategy, the wider team then sets about making it happen.

What is our starting point?
Having defined a clear, exciting future state, an honest, sober and robust assessment of the ‘now’ state is essential. The catch 22 is that without great leadership, the assessment can become more of an exercise in describing what the leaders wished their organisation, whether church or wider ministry, were like, rather than actually confronting the reality. Whatever the current state of the organisation, ‘it is what it is’. Only by getting straight about what it is does it become possible to create and deliver extraordinary breakthrough. Get this significantly wrong, and the path to failure has already been laid.

Some form of Strategic Planning Process with an accompanying Strategic Plan are essential components of significant change or transformation. The following diagram is an example of a top level ‘Vision led Strategy’, which is underpinned by a set of plans, and a linked organisational design that will deliver the strategy and ultimately unlock the vision.

The Strategic Planning Process and associated development and delivery of the Strategic Plan can be supported by ‘Kotter’s 8 Step Process for Leading Change’ which describes a helpful model for understanding and managing change. We will cover these 8 steps over the coming weeks.

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Nigel Ring on June 8th, 2017

Jesus said ‘It is finished’ as he hung on the cross and yielded up his spirit. This was no cry of relief that the pain was over but rather a shout of victory! Will you be able to say someday ‘It is finished’ with the same confidence that Jesus had? Do you know what your ‘it’ is? Will you have faithfully fulfilled ‘it’?

Recently I ended a series ‘Grace-filled or Grumpy?’ addressed to those in their later years. I thought I had finished, but have just watched this video ‘What do you want to leave behind’ by one of my heroes, Simon Guillebaud, who ministers selflessly in Burundi, and I felt I should add a postcript. He talks about his grandmother who was a missionary in Rwanda and was part of the East Africa Revival. She fruitfully and faithfully ‘ran the race’ until her dying day at the age of 86.

This ‘Post Script’ applies to us all, whatever our age. I urge you to watch it, be inspired and be challenged: What do you want to leave behind, or pass on to others?


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Nigel Ring on June 6th, 2017

I continue the series on Management of Change by guest writer Gary Borland.

Enthusiasm and Optimism are not enough
Like change management, the bookshelves, libraries and online resources offer so much (at times apparently conflicting) material and advice that many simply don’t use any of it. Combine that with coaches, mentors and consultancy firms promising you things they can’t always deliver, and you could be forgiven for thinking that only the particularly gifted can manage or lead. That said, combinations of all of these are required if we are to develop into effective, high performing leaders and managers, rather than simply assuming that osmosis, appointment to a leadership role, experience and a liberal dose of enthusiasm and optimism will win the day.

Leadership and management are both vital components of a healthy organisation, whether church or a wider ministry, and individuals invariably discharge elements of both. However, the larger the change, the more leadership is required. For the purposes of this series, I offer a simple, imperfect description of leadership:

Creating what isn’t, rather than managing what is

If we assume that organisational drift is predicable without leadership intervention, then a key role of leadership is to intervene in that drift and make something happen that wasn’t going to happen already.

Equipped to lead change or transformation?
Sadly, many organisations, including churches, are littered with leaders who have not been equipped to do what is asked of them and lack either the self-awareness, knowledge or experience to do anything about it. Where that applies to the overall leader, the organisation is at very serious risk of stagnation, underperforming, choking off talent and future leaders, or worse, complete breakdown and failure. If combined with a culture where measurement is seen as a crude practice that only businesses indulge in, then the stage is set for mediocrity at best.

For transformation and significant change to be successful, we need equipped leaders who have the ability to:

  • Stand for new possibilities (if you know how to get there already, it’s a plan, not a possibility)
  • Intervene in what is currently predictable and achieve a step change in performance
  • Fully own their organisation’s future and create a range of options to fulfil that future
  • Develop strong disciplines in the way they think, listen and speak
  • Engage people effectively throughout the organisation by enrolling, rather than telling them
  • Cultivate their own learning
  • Bring clarity and accountability to commitments
  • Commit even when uncertain
  • Set objectives/outcomes which exceed their previous experience
  • Confront and resolve intractable issues
  • Seek dissenting opinions
  • Develop the ability to unlearn by embracing how much they don’t know

Keeping healthy on the move
Designing and delivering major change or transformation can be likened to changing the wheels on a bus while it’s driving along the motorway. The organisation doesn’t stop moving, yet significant, additional capability and capacity is required, which introduces risk and the need to manage not only the programme, but the loading on individuals and teams. Knowing what to stop is as important as knowing what needs to be done; the empowerment of others to prioritise work is vital. Work-life balance and wellbeing of everyone should always be high on a leader’s agenda, but particularly during periods of significant organisational change. Failure to look after yourself and your people will ultimately lead to a failure to deliver the bold vision, but more worryingly, will damage and may break people in the process.

We have now considered how to establish great leadership, how to make a sober assessment of the ‘now’ state and how to define an exciting vision. Next week we will look at Strategic Planning.

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Nigel Ring on June 1st, 2017

Bookings have recently opened for two very important conferences. Please book now to get the benefit of discounted rates

Mastering Kingdom Administration
Sept 25th – 28th 2017
Milton Keynes, UK

This is a special event: three days of equipping for those involved in any aspect of administration and the final day for them to attend the conference with members of the leadership of their churches to learn about working in teams. Paul Manwaring is the Main speaker who will take many of the sessions.

Monday 25 September 2017 Administration’s Time Has Come
Administration’s time is now. Revival, reformation and renaissance require the gift in the hands of Spirit-filled administrators, leaders and managers. Come and be equipped, inspired and empowered.

Tuesday 26 September 2017Divine Order
Often we meet tension in the workplace, but the reality is that tension is the birthplace of change, the doorway to divine order. Discover the doors opening to you in your season and experience of tension.

Wednesday 27 September 2017What Time Is It?
We are called for such a time as this. Explore your identity; understand the time you are in and what to do with it. You are more strategic than you think. Let’s discover, dream, design and deliver a better future.

Thursday 28 September 2017Creating A Culture of Increase
Organisations everywhere are facing unprecedented demands and opportunities to change. Leading organisational transition is the great gift which leaders and managers bring to their environment. For this final day of the conference we will focus on teams and team relationships and we strongly encourage administrators to invite their senior leader / senior managers to attend this day alongside them.

Listen to Paul sharing his heart for the conference and then book here. Don’t miss out on the early bird discount!



Churches that Change Communities
October 28th 2017
Cambridge, UK

This national conference, now in its seventh year, is a firm fixture in the national Christian diary. It will envision, equip and encourage you to increase your impact, affect your community and build churches where the poor are welcomed and fully involved. The day will include prophetic teaching, seminars, networking with one another and social action franchises, and worship with an opportunity for prayer.



1  Biblical mandate: Remember the poor. Mike Betts (Relational Mission)
2  Network 1: Refugees and asylum seekers. Dave Smith (Boaz Trust)
3  Network 2: Building churches in deprived areas.  Martin Charlesworth (J+) with Jim Harper (Encounter Camps)
4  Social business: starting and building (speaker tbc)
5  Challenging our own attitudes: class, materialism and cynicism. Natalie Williams (J+)


1  Leadership challenges in building churches for the poor. Martin Charlesworth
2 Network 3: Engaging with isolated elderly. Stephen Hammersley (Pilgrims Friend Society), Helen Wordsworth (Parish Nursing), Jeremy Sharpe (Linking Lives UK)
3  Network 4: Addictions – a church-based response. Joss Bray (Competent Compassion),
4  Transforming lives – Angela Kemm (Cambridge City Church)
5  Social justice: heart convictions and hands in action.  Andy Biggs (J+), Natalie Williams and (tbc).

To take advantage of the early bird discount book here

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Nigel Ring on May 31st, 2017

But the noble make noble plans, and by noble deeds they stand (Isaiah 32:8)

The local church is frequently undergoing change, yet the skills needed to carry out these changes do not come into the normal training packages of leaders in the Newfrontiers family. With this in mind I invited Gary Borland to write a series for me (see below for Gary’s background). Gary, who has extensive experience in this area, has been a key player in helping Guy Miller and his team to define the vision, strategy, and implementation for the Commission sphere of churches, a process that is now agreed and well underway.

‘Gary has opened our eyes to the process and skills required to manage change effectively as he has helped us to clarify and articulate our vision, develop strategy and agree a process of implementation, with the vital place of regular communication to the churches in Commission and the enrolment of key folk as we have proceeded’. Guy Miller

The purpose of this series is to provide an overview of Change Management and the leadership requirements needed to create and deliver transformational breakthrough. I suggest you work through the material thoughtfully, prayerfully and with a commitment to learn, listening carefully to the Holy Spirit. Embracing what Gary teaches will transform the way you do things to the benefit of your church or sphere, and for the advancement of the Kingdom.


Change and Transformation – do they differ?
The bewildering array of ‘change management’ books, online resources, conferences and other material can either be used to equip leaders and teams to undertake effective change management, or at the other end of the spectrum, contribute to poorly conceived and led programmes.

Commonly understood and consistent language is at best elusive. What constitutes “change” and “transformation” falls firmly into this category. The two are not the same and unless leaders understand this, they will set off on a path that’s likely to resign their transformation programme to mediocrity or total failure. Consistent research shows that 70% of others fail to deliver their intended outcomes and benefits.

Excellent though the capabilities and models may be of consultancy firms who offer to manage your “Change” or “Transformation” programmes, the reality is that it can be a short step and some very large sums of money to total dependency. If the fundamental building blocks never permeate the breadth and depth of leadership, and senior leadership fail to own their own programme, then failure is just a matter of time!

Comfortable being uncomfortable
While individual initiatives require change management skills, leaders in transformation programmes need to learn broader capabilities, including increased flexibility, adaptability and strong collaboration across organisational boundaries. Excellent communication skills become imperative, and leaders need to quickly become ‘comfortable being uncomfortable’ and to create their own clarity in the inevitable, emerging fog of ambiguity.

“Change” is about implementing specific initiatives with a focus on creating clearly defined changes to, for example, working patterns and processes. “Transformation” on the other hand is fundamentally different and involves many interdependent and interlinked initiatives with the overall aim of recreating the organisation, whether church or apostolic sphere, to ensure it is capable of delivering a bold future vision.

Unsurprisingly, greater risk is involved in transformation and there are no comprehensive templates or blueprints as to how its either designed or executed, other than some processes, tools and principles that can be applied. Predictability may be absent, certain aspects may be tried, tested, failed, re-tried again, and with experimentation comes the always present danger of leadership disengagement. Transformation failure can be preceded by a number of successes – the old adage, you can win a lot of battles and still lose the war.

There is of course nothing new under the sun, but the permutations of factors such as leadership, people, resources, where you’re coming from and where you’re trying to get to are important elements of context that need to be understood.

Understand the context
So what is context? Context could be considered as the background against which any challenge and its goals are viewed and understood. However, context is often unquestioned or not apparent, and is often wrongly assumed to be shared by everyone, yet determines people’s view of what’s possible, and shapes actions and outcomes. Without a new and shared context for the challenge, people will continue to operate as they have in the past and wonder why nothing changes.

An important key to establish at the outset is where the organisation is today and the possibility you see for the future. Getting real about all aspects of an organisation, starting with leadership and particularly the overall leader, is vital if transformation has any realistic prospect of delivering on big visions and big possibilities.

Staring down the barrel of a 70% failure rate, a focus on leadership requirements would seem to be a fitting place for next week.

It is likely that as you read this series questions will come to mind since such a complex subject cannot be handled in full in one short series. Gary has agreed to receive queries and can be reached by clicking here.


Who is Gary Borland?

Having taught military strategic campaign planning in the Royal Air Force and then led a number of major change and transformation programmes in his role as Managing Director of large complex businesses in a PLC, Gary has a breadth of experience to share.  He is keen to point out that what he is sharing are his personal observations and reflections, and that there are many other ways of expressing and leading change and transformation, all of which should be weighed and considered.

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Nigel Ring on May 25th, 2017

Burundi has a chequered history. It experienced revival as part of the East African Revival in the middle decades of the twentieth century and then inter-tribal civil war through the 1990s and into the new century. Tension continues to exist to this day.

On the UN scales of poverty Burundi features near the bottom. The infrastructure is at best unreliable, at worst non-existent, with supplies of electricity and fuel severely restricted. But the church is active in helping to bring peace and transformation.

Donna Bloomfield, of Gateway Church in Swindon, UK, has a deep commitment to Burundi, having served for two years as the principal of a Christian school in the capital, Bujumbura, at the turn of the century and more recently having become engaged in various initiatives to alleviate poverty and promote transformation through the church. In this interview she shares some of the matters on her heart.



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Nigel Ring on May 17th, 2017

I was a member of Church of Christ the King in Brighton for over 30 years. A few years ago one of the members, Liz Woodgate, was diagnosed with terminal cancer of the oesophagus hence the title of this recently published book, Swallowed by Life. It is the story of what happened over the following two years at which time she was declared healed!

I am not going to spoil the wonder by telling you the whole story but it is very remarkable and brings great glory to God. It is certainly a sign that will make you wonder!

The book can also be something of a workshop for us as it teaches us much from the many steps that brought Liz to that wonderful result:

  • Her transparency in her honesty and vulnerability as she faced the diagnosis.
  • The battle she went through both physically and emotionally as she sold all her possessions (including her house) in anticipation of dying.
  • The faith that was exercised by herself, and her family and friends in a remarkable ‘we’re-not-going-to-give-up’ way as they soaked her in prayer on a weekly basis.
  • The tenacity of her sister who contacted a man she knew who had gone through a similar walk – and helped arrange for a visit by him all the way from New Zealand!

I know Liz and the people mentioned in this book and can vouch for its authenticity. You will be blessed to read it. But beware, as Terry Virgo says ‘Once I had picked up the book I couldn’t put it down’. I agree! Leave yourself sufficient time as you read it to complete it at one sitting and to wonder at the majesty and power of God.

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Nigel Ring on May 10th, 2017

In this concluding part of the series I want to continue to help church leaders in the challenging task of ensuring that all members are achieving their God-given place of service in the local church, particularly, in this context, the older members.

Crowning Years
Recently I attended the thanksgiving service for Alun Davies, a godly church leader whom I loved to visit up to the end of his life in his eighties. Why? Because he reflected and spoke about the wonder and glory of Jesus. He took every opportunity to talk about Jesus, to witness to those he touched, whether a carer who was coming to help look after his wife, June, or a painter who decorated his house. He was one of those I visited to encourage – but left having become the recipient of encouragement rather than the giver!

Alun was living out the teaching of the ministry to older people he and June carried out for many years – Crowning Years. The name came from a prophecy God gave though Alun himself in 1989: “I am bringing into being a new generation of old people who will not carry their years as a burden, but will wear them as a crown”.

I was privileged to speak at Alun’s thanksgiving service and, while preparing, reminded myself from the reports in the Newfrontiers Magazines of the blessings of this ministry. Frequently I read testimonies of people who attended the conferences thinking they had come to the end of their productive lives only to find that God had further work for them through the church. One couple even moved to India to support a church planting initiative!

Ask them
As a church leader I encourage you to see this older generation in a very positive light and to seek God how to tap into the richness of lives well lived. Why not visit them and ask how you can help mobilise them? What are their aspirations? It may take a little time but surely the investment of those hours is worth it – both for you and for them.

Digging into the word
In attending several thanksgiving services recently I noted how some of those we were thanking God for had been actively involved in men’s Bible studies right up to the ends of their lives. What a great way to invest into men! Often men, particularly businessmen, don’t know where they fit in the church. The demands of business life may preclude their availability for mid week meetings etc. But perhaps an early morning Bible study and prayer time, maybe on a Saturday over breakfast, is just what is needed. Who better to lead this than someone who has walked with God for 40, 50, 60… years? And what a way for the life of the church to be deepened.

I have sought to encourage those of senior years to see they still have a role in the church but that you need to take the initiative yourself rather than expect someone to come knocking at your door.

For the church leaders, I want to urge you to recognise that you may have pure gold in your midst and yet you may not have noticed it. Be intentional. Go and mine it for everyone’s good!

For both groups – don’t just read this series and agree or disagree. If you agree do something about it. If you disagree discuss it with someone and find better solutions that match your circumstances.

Don’t just be passive – Go and do it!


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