Issue #19: How to Make Changes
One of the first questions I was asked in the interview process was, “What do you plan on changing and when?” I told them with integrity of heart, “I don’t plan to make any major changes for at least a year.” I wished we would have clarified what that meant.
Easter Sunday came. I had been the pastor for three whole months. The choir director was still organizing the service, and she jammed it full of songs. I barely had time to preach. To remedy our time constraints, I cut out the announcements. At the time, it seemed like a good idea.
The next night was the church board meeting. You would have thought I proposed moving the church. I was told I had “upset the apple cart” and that I “should have asked” permission before making such a change.
Churches hate change, but it must be done. Here are five ways to think about making changes in your church without getting fired or losing too much leadership capital.
Understand the difference between important and urgent. I wish I knew this little nugget of wisdom early on. I probably wouldn’t have taken the lamp off the pulpit on (literally) day one. Was it important to me? Yes. Was it urgent? No. An urgent change was removing an ungodly Sunday School teacher my first year. The pulpit could have waited. Just because it’s important doesn’t mean it’s urgent and needs changed right away.
Look for low hanging fruit. While you’re waiting to make those massive changes, look for little ways you can get some wins. For me, this was starting a brand-new Bible study and seeing good attendance. Celebrate those early, easy wins.
Get buy in before the big meeting. If you’re going to make a big change, and it will be voted on at a meeting, shop around your idea and get buy in first. That way, the church’s key holders know what to expect and you have their support. If you don’t get their support, you know not to bring it to the church yet.
Get others to advocate for change. Sometimes the best way to make a change is having someone else do it for you. In your conversations, drop a line like, “Man, I wish we had better kid’s ministry space. We could really reach some families.” You never know. Someone might foot the bill or speak up to make the change.
- Cast Vision and back up your reasons. In most cases, if I explained why I wanted to make a change, and how it could benefit our church, the people supported it. For the most part, people are reasonable. If they see how this change will benefit the church because you clearly thought it through and explained it well, then you are likely to get their buy in.
If you are a leader, you are a leader of change. If you’re not leading change, you’re not a leader. But make sure you’re acting with wisdom and strategy. Don’t be overcome by emotions and impatience. Implement some of these approaches and see how God will work in your church.
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