Setting the Stage for Successful Change in the Church

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Setting the Stage for Successful Change in the Church

If I’ve heard it asked once I’ve heard it 1000 times. “Dick, how in the world do I navigate change in the church?”  Wow! That’s a big one. Change to some people comes very natural. To others it’s like the plague. “I’ll do anything to avoid that!”

But let’s think about this. In the church we have the greatest mission on the planet – to reach spiritually lost people with the Gospel. If we are going to be successful to that mission we have to give regular attention to all aspects of the church including the methods we use to reach those lost people and to serve the Body as a whole.

The Church has the greatest mission on the planet – to reach spiritually lost people with the Gospel. Click To Tweet

Here are eight things for you to consider as you set the stage for change at your church. This is probably not an exhaustive list but is certainly a good starter-kit to get going.

1. Pray.

Always start here. Why would you not go to the Lord for His divine guidance. It is critical that you talk to God first, getting clear direction for the steps you need to take in making the change He gives you to make. Without this, you are on your own.

2. Live in the present but prepare for the future.

It does no good to see so far into the future that you fail to be in the present to bring the present people with you on the journey to God’s vision for the church. Wise leaders live in the present but prepare for the future. You have to do both.

3. Talk about it and then don’t do it.

One of the big mistakes I see pastors and church leaders make is, in the excitement to see change, they try to rush change with people. Don’t do that. When you share vision for the future and impending changes … in the immediate, change nothing. When you talk with the future in mind, some people put their defenses up. However, if you do not change things immediately after you talk about change, you allow the defenses to drop preparing their hearts for the new thing God has in store for them and the church.

(NOTE: Does your ministry & life feel out of balance? Click here to learn how to create the appropriate margin for long-term ministry effectiveness.)

Create ministry margin & balance ministry life for pastors

4. Go for the low-hanging fruit.

When you begin the process of change, start with the easy changes. You want people to start saying things like, “When pastor changes things around the church, they are good changes.” This allows you to get some “wins” under your belt. Then when that happens it starts the ball rolling. Success begets more success.

5. Create the mantra that the only thing permanent around the church is change.

This is part of the culture-building pastors and church leaders need to be doing all the time. You and your leaders need to remind people that other than biblical absolutes, “the only thing permanent around here is change.” Do it with a smile. Get the hearer to smile and do it over and over again. Without these words, you will seldom move forward to the changes God wants for you!

6. Tie change to mission all the time.

One of the things I hear regularly is “Well, we don’t want to do change just for change’s sake.” When I hear that I think, “Who in the world does change for change’s sake?” When you do change there has to be a reason for it and you must regularly tie it to mission. Mission is the anchor of the church. Everything you do should drive to the mission of the church. So you have to communicate that change is intimately tied to mission all the time.

7. Talk of the benefits of change.

Frequently, when people express fear of change, they really are expressing fear of loss. Your role as the leader is to help people see change not as loss but as gain. Help them see the benefits of change. All salesmen know that people buy benefits, not features. So when you communicate change in the church, do not get bogged down in the nuts and bolts of the change. Rather, focus on the benefits of the change to the people and the church.

8. Tell success stories.

There is nothing like a good story. People respond to stories. They relate to stories. They love stories. People who tell stories well are considered master story-tellers. When you change something at church look for a resulting life change in people as a result of the change. Do not assume everyone in the church knows or sees all the good things that happen as a result of change. They do not. It is your job as the leader to communicate those good things and that is best done by telling success stories.

So there you have it. Eight considerations for setting the stage for successful change at the great church you lead. On one hand it is not always easy. On the other hand, the joy that comes with successfully leading people through change can be over-the-top.

It is my prayer as you make changes throughout the year, you will do so prayerfully. Be fully convinced in your own mind and heart of that which God wants done in your life and that of the church. Then begin the journey to change things about the church that need changing.

Always honor what has been done but never hesitate to take people on the wonderful journey of change. The mission of the church deserves nothing less.

(NOTE: Does your ministry & life feel out of balance? Click here to learn how to create the appropriate margin for long-term ministry effectiveness.)

Create ministry margin & balance ministry life for pastors


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