Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)



First Advisor

Lacy Borgo, DMin

Second Advisor

Ken Van Vliet, DMin

Third Advisor

MaryKate Morse, PhD


When a pastor introduces systemic change to a congregation, it injects anxiety into the congregational system, which in turn leads to reactivity. The result is resistance to change, which often becomes hostile. Pastors who do not adequately prepare their people for change or who do not know how to help their people process the conflict that results from change resistance in a healthy manner face hostilities that most likely result in their termination or resignation. Consequently, this work seeks to analyze how reactivity results from proposed changes; what pastors can do to better prepare their people for change; and how pastors can nurture their people through change in a healthy manner.

Chapter one examines physiological reactions to change. Chapter two examines two ways that Jesus introduced change in his setting and his motives for driving change in an effort to intentionally stir up reactivity. There were other times when he nurtured change, meaning he introduced change in a way that allowed him to pastor the people he was leading. Chapter three looks at change through church history, focusing on examples of reactivity that turned violent, as well as a few examples of change that was led in a healthy manner. Chapter four examines the dynamics of internal family systems as a necessary focus for pastors who wish to successfully navigate change. Chapter five looks at how to lead a congregation in healthy conflict, as well as how to provide safe environments to allow people time and space to process the grief associated with change.

Included in

Christianity Commons