Few congregation ever achieve positive growth curves again once they’ve begun to decline. What’s more, church leaders report that their attempts to revitalize their churches don’t yield the desired results. A lot of energy (and money) is put into change programs, with all the usual communication exercises, consultations, workshops, and so on. Like a diet fad, it achieves short-term results but not long-term solutions.
In the beginning, things seem to change, but gradually the novelty and impetus tends to wear off, and the organization ends up settling back into something of its previous configuration. So instead of managing new organizations, leaders end up managing the unwanted side effects of their efforts. The reason for this is simple, though often overlooked: unless the paradigm at the heart of the culture is changed, there can be no lasting change. Change must come from deep inside the paradigm; anything less will simply be external and cosmetic.
-Alan Hirsch and Dave Ferguson, On the Verge (57)