The final step in the CHANGE process for a church is encouragement. Accountability structures provide encouragement as we pursue a goal and they keep us on track. In individual coaching, the coach is NOT the accountability structure. The client designs his or her own accountability structures or identifies those already in place—family, friends, coworkers—who can come alongside and help.
As we work with a church to change, we can call upon structures already in place or create some to help move toward the goal.
Some accountability structures already exist. These may be staff meetings, leadership teams (elders, session, etc.), or church business meetings. These provide times to not only report what is being achieved but to celebrate as well.
For example, when a goal is developed, steps to achieve that goal are outlined. We might see these not only as steps in a process but milestones toward achievement. They can also be the occasion for celebration. We don’t do a very good job of celebrating. Perhaps we think it is a bit too worldly but we find many times of celebration in the history of the people of Israel and in the ministry of Jesus. As steps are completed toward the goal, celebrate them as a spring board to the next step of accomplishment.
Another accountability structure might be a steering team that guides, coordinates, and evaluates the progress toward the goal. This responsibility may be delegated to an existing body in the church, but it should include both clergy and lay leadership as well as those who are directly involved in working toward the goal. The team’s role is encouragement not direction.
Reminders are a good accountability structure. This may be a timeline in the church narthex, a pictorial representation in a prominent place, or pictures of a work in progress. These keep the goal before the congregation and serve as an incentive for continued action.
In summary, this is a process based on coaching principles that a church can adopt as it addresses change:
H—Honor the other
A—Ask powerful questions
N—Nurture curiosity and creativity
How would this work in your congregation?