What’s in this Episode?
Have you ever wondered why making a change in the church is so hard? All it takes is one person like Herb or Mabel to completely stop your progress. In this episode, we’re going to help you know how to make changes in the church by understanding why change is so hard for people. When you understand this, it paves the way for making things happen in your church.
Read the Transcript
Dick Hardy 0:25
You know, it really is a great joy for those of us who have been in church ministry to be able to serve in the leadership of the church. Jonathan’s had the privilege of doing so, I have. And you know, one of the things we know for sure is that change is an issue for virtually every church, and there’s probably a zillion reasons why change is so hard for church. But we want to just jump into the subject today and talk about five of them now, you can add to the list, but we really think this will be a good starter kit for you to really understand some of the reasons that change is so hard so get us started.
Reason #1: Fear of the Unknown
Jonathan Hardy 0:55
Okay, here we go. The five reasons change in the church is so hard. Number one, fear of the unknown. Hey, here’s the reality, when you don’t know what the future holds, it can be a fearful thing. When it comes to making a change in the church, when you’re going to make a change, and you don’t know what the end result is really going to look like that’s scary for people. And as a result, what do they do? Well, they don’t make the change, they play it safe instead. And there’s a variety of reasons why people fear the unknown. I mean, it could be simply as as simple as they are afraid of the end result, maybe maybe the result that they think they’re going to get, what if it doesn’t work? You know, how do they navigate that?
And then of course, the internal feelings of looking like maybe like you failed, made a mistake, how are the people perceiving that change? But then not only that, you also have to factor in the fact that it might make people upset, can you believe it? Have you ever seen that? Someone didn’t like the change.
I remember the time we made a change, and we were in a meeting and other Pastor night in a meeting with a guy, he literally got up out of the seat, walk straight out the door didn’t say a word just left because he was ticked at the change. It’s gonna happen. Never saw him again. Years later never saw him again. He was upset. That’s just one example. The reality is people have their perception of how change is going to affect them personally. And so that’s a fear for us. Well, how are they going to perceive it, but we can’t let fear stop us from making changes anyway, because that’s for another week. So that’s number one.
Reason #2: Comfort with the Familiar
Dick Hardy 2:38
You know, number two jumps right off of number one, it’s really the flip side of it. I mean, a major reason people fear change is because they become comfortable with the familiar. That which we know is going to happen, makes people say, Oh, I know I’m familiar with this. You know, sometimes we can think that that is Generally people older, you know my age more than your age. But the reality is, no matter what age people are in, they get comfortable with the familiar. And we we want them to be comfortable in the sense that they they enjoy the church and the worship and the preaching and all that goes on. But when you get comfortable with the familiar and and are unwilling to change, you’re dead in the water. So you have to help people get uncomfortable. They can appreciate the familiar but they got to get uncomfortable because things are going to change.
Reason #3: Expectation that the Church Will Never Change
Dick Hardy 3:35
The third one kind of ties to that. A reason that change is hard is that people can expect that they’re that while the world is spinning around them. Their church is going to stay the same. Wow. I can’t keep up with technology. It’s doing this. It’s doing that. Oh my goodness. Well, one thing I know for sure that my church is going to be the same. I’m going to go sit in the same spot, I’m going to be able to predict the way the worship service is going to go, and when the pastor is going to preach, and I know that that is not going to change. Well, one of your roles as the pastor is helping those good people in your church, who feel safe in the sameness of church, realize the church has to change. And be clear with this. Jonathan will say it, I’ll say, I’ll say, we’re not talking about the message of the gospel. We’re not talking about changing anything about the truth of Scripture, about biblical absolutes. We’re talking about the methods to communicate that, and believe me, these methods are going to change even faster in the months and years to come.
Reason #4: Unhealthy Fixation on Tradition
Jonathan Hardy 4:49
Okay, number four. The fourth reason why it’s hard for churches to make a change is because of an unhealthy fixation on tradition. Hey, we got it. We have to honor tradition. We love the tradition. You know, if you grew up in church, you think about the traditions of the past and all of that. And so we want to honor that we value that, but we can’t get stuck there. And I think so many times, that’s what happens for people and for churches is they get stuck on the tradition. And consequently, they want to keep doing things because that’s the way they’ve always been done. That’s traditionally the way we do it at our church, and we won’t make a change to do something different. You’ve heard the saying a million times what got you here won’t get you there. You have to be willing to make that change, and not allow tradition to stop you. I mean, history shapes us, our traditions, shape us all those things played a part in if you grew up in church into who you are as a Christian today, or as a pastor today because of the traditions of the past, so we honor it, but we can’t have an unhealthy fixation on it and stay there.
Reason #5: The Confusion of Heritage and What’s Right
Dick Hardy 5:49
Yeah, exactly right. And the fifth reason that change is so hard in the church actually ties to number four, and it’s the confusion of heritage and what’s right. So, heritage ties to tradition, and we all have a heritage, you have a heritage, I have a heritage. All God’s children have heritage, but what can happen is we can make our heritage absolutely right as compared to what is right. Classic example. If you were a white person in the pre-Civil War south, where slavery was part of the culture, it was just the norm. Well, you know, passed the Civil War, and you’re getting older and you look back on your heritage. Slavery is part of your heritage. But that didn’t make slavery right, and you’ll hear people in church say things like, well, you know, when you’re talking along and preaching a concept that maybe is a little different than they learned as a child. Well, that’s not the way I was raised. As if the way you were raised is absolutely right. Now, we’re not dishonoring your parents, but the fact is, there are no perfect parents, and the way you were raised might by and large, be right, but don’t confuse your heritage with the rightness of what scripture says.
Jonathan Hardy 7:10
Yeah, that’s really good. So we’ve got five things, five reasons why it’s hard for churches to make a change. Let me recap those for you here quickly. Number one: fear of the unknown. Number two: comfort with the familiar. Number three: expectation that the church will never change. Number four: unhealthy fixation on tradition, and number five: the confusion of heritage and what’s right. Now, here’s the reality, you’ve got all these things and you say, hey, great, now I have an understanding of why churches don’t change. Now, how do I make the change? Well, we want to make sure if you haven’t listened yet, be sure to check out episode five, where we talk about how to make the changes that you need to and will want to make to be able to move things forward. And that’s going to be a really helpful episode for you to check out. Be sure to check that out, as well. I think it’s helpful just overall to understand that to lead change that means you have to literally lead through it. You can’t just make a change, off the cuff and call it good. There’s a leadership process that has to happen for people to be able to move, help move the ministry forward, help move people to go from maybe even resisting the change to all of a sudden embracing the change. Well, how do you do that? Well, it happens through your leadership.
And on that I want to encourage you to continue to develop your personal leadership as a pastor or ministry leader. One of the ways you can do that is through the Five Day Leadership Challenge that we actually just have made available for everyone. They can sign up anytime they want, for a five day period. It’s five days, 15 minutes a day. It’s not spiritual Bible, prayer focused. It’s centered on that. But it’s leadership focused. It’s based on scripture, we mentioned scripture a lot throughout it, but we talked about five different things that pastors need to do, to help be the leader they need to be and to make this next six, eight, twelve months of their life leading and operating at higher levels, because that’s going to help them not only lead through change, but all the other things they need to do as leader.
So how to sign up for that is simply this, go to Leaders.Church/challenge. You can sign up there. It’s free five days 15 minutes a day, the day you sign up is day one, you’ll get five days worth of 15 minutes of content, and it’s going to help you be a better leader that you need to be.
Well, thank you so much for being with us on this podcast today. If you’re listening on any podcast platform, be sure to hit the subscribe button. Make sure to subscribe to our podcast. If you’re watching this on YouTube. We’d love to have you subscribe. Just hit the YouTube subscribe button there. And thank you so much for being with us today. We’ll look forward to talking next time. See you.
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