Dissatisfaction - friend or foe?

Perhaps the reason that growth is often slow or difficult in churches is that we’re so focused on keeping people happy and satisfied, that we never have enough dissatisfaction to tip the scales for growth to happen. But don’t we usually try to minimize dissatisfaction?

Guarded as I am of “formulas,” I know this one to be true. Kathie Dannemiller’s formula for change is simply this: 

Dissatisfaction plus Vision plus First Steps has to be greater than Resistance for change to happen, or in clever symbolism: D + V + F > R. Why do you care?

How disappointing it is when you put all this work into a project, only to have it fall flat, or stop as soon as you’re not giving your full energies to it? 

We get tired when we try to implement a cultural change in our church, only to find resentment or pushback. We tell our people all the right, new, inspired plans and ideas we have, only to hear their uninspired response: “oh.” We go to “the conference to end all conferences” and hear these great ideas and are personally inspired, wanting desperately to share the experience [and its effect] with our team, but…“I guess they had to be there…”


Have you ever suggested something, a God-idea, an personal passion, or a passing brainstorm, and people picked up with it and ran! Can you imagine actually changing the part of your church’s existing culture [the one you’re convinced is keeping you from God’s best]? Do you suggest big projects and your team volunteers to take parts of it on without even being asked? Does the congregation lead YOU in worship?

Take the formula for growth [D + V + F > R] and write it on your notepad before every committee meeting. Write it on a sticky note and paste it on your computer screen at the beginning of every day. Think through it and how you need to apply it every time you are helping someone move forward. Look at your own ministry, and check it against the formula, asking yourself what part [D, V, or F] was missing or insufficient in the latest change you felt called to implement – then formulate a plan to boost that part.

See, here’s how it works. You might have one part – you don’t like something, or feel this sense of there being more. You might have clear, inspired vision for what something could become. You may have great, concrete ideas for implementing the plan. But if you don’t have all three components [and their sum doesn’t outweigh whatever is resisting the change] you won’t grow.

That’s why dissatisfaction can be your friend.

It’s one of the necessary ingredients to experience growth. The opposite of dissatisfaction is…satisfaction or complacent. The definition of complacent is “pleased, especially with oneself or one's merits, advantages, situation, etc., often without awareness of some [check this] potential danger or defect.”

[And did you notice that I tried telling you about this amazing formula using the formula itself? In the paragraph starting with “How disappointing it is…” I tried to get you in touch with experiences where you’re dissatisfied. Then I begin to cast vision with “Have you ever suggested something…” and then I ended with some practical, concrete steps to “Take the formula for growth…” Question is…was it enough to overcome your resistance to change?]

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