ADKAR: New Tool Promises to be a “Game Changer” for Revitalization

Date Posted: 1/23/2015

Next month, a dozen leaders will learn how to apply a customized tool called ADKAR to facilitate changes that enhance church vitality. The ADKAR Team will initiate this impressive resource this summer.

ADKAR may sound like an odd name for a powerful new change management tool, however it is an acronym that outlines the tool’s key elements:

  • Awareness of the need to change
  • Desire to participate and support the change
  • Knowledge of how to change (and what the change looks like)
  • Ability to implement the change on a day-to-day basis
  • Reinforcement to keep the change in place
“This simple but profound new tool has had phenomenal success in the business world,” shares Dr. Jesse Brannen, Director of TAC Congregational Excellence, “so the pioneers of this proven system are actually now partnering with us to customize ADKAR specifically for the Texas Annual Conference. Our conference is known as a leader in new initiatives within the denomination so it is exciting to be the first United Methodist entity and first nonprofit, for that matter, to use the ADKAR tool to assess areas where change might foster vitality.”
Never Underestimate the Power of the Status Quo
Longtime Methodist Graham Sharp is credited with seeing the potential of ADKAR for the Texas Annual Conference congregations. “As a church member who is also a change management consultant,” Graham shares, “I have been frustrated along with others over time that we continually talk about change but nothing happens. As a denomination we know we ought to be doing something -- but we often don’t know what or how.”
That’s where ADKAR saves the day. “I am so excited about this proven methodology being available to our churches because I know that they sincerely want to become more vital and relevant and this process will give us the procedures to support any desired changes,” he adds. In fact, Graham will ‘train the trainers’ next month to prepare a dozen conference leaders to serve on the TAC ADKAR Team. They will likely serve in teams of three and be available to work with congregations this summer. Adds Graham, “We may start the ADKAR process with churches that are a part of the Vibrant Church Initiative (VCI), but we will ultimately be available to any group or any church because the tool can be used anywhere, anytime – even for personal changes you might want to make.”
The ADKAR tool, pioneered by a type of think-tank company called PROSCI© in Loveland, Colorado (, will be used to identify areas where there is a gap in understanding and motivation for change, which will better enable leaders to provide laser focus and education that will lead congregants and entire churches to greater missional success.  
By helping to determine the readiness around a certain change, ADKAR will ultimately accelerate effectiveness by getting the objections out on the table and keeping people feeling “heard” and informed in the discussions. A church considering a capital campaign, for example, could use ADKAR to see if the congregation was behind the idea, and where the concerns might be. It could also be useful to discern leaders’ and volunteers’ receptivity to change – perhaps before they assume a new position.
Adds Jesse, “The Center for Congregational Excellence wholeheartedly believes that the successful development and implementation of this change management process will allow us to better serve the VCI churches, and leaders in general. Further, the ADKAR process will be of great value to the pastors and congregations that use it to test readiness for other things such as long-range planning, selection of officers, or perhaps questions related to adding a worship service or changing locations.”
Graham is more than excited about equipping districts, congregations and individual leaders and members in this simple yet proven new process created specifically for the Texas Annual Conference. “We know we want to make disciples for Jesus Christ, and now we will have the tactics and train the soldiers to achieve that mission – how exciting it is to put the power of change in the hands of each congregation.”