Issue #7: Ten Roadblocks to Change and Solutions for Moving Forward
Recently, I wrote a Twitter Thread that outlined ten roadblocks (challenges) church leaders face when trying to implement change. It would be super helpful if you read that thread before this newsletter.
Here are those 10 challenges.
- The Pastor is afraid to be fired.
- The Pastor is facing a power group.
- The church has little to no youth ministry.
- The church has a bad location.
- The church is resistant to outreach.
- The church won’t let go of sacred cows.
- Current members run off new people.
- The church has a bad reputation in the community.
- The pastor encounters theological pushback.
- The church has change fatigue.
Pastors face all kinds of challenges but when we try to make changes, opposition can be fierce. Above are ten common problems, and here are some proposed solutions.
Be willing to get fired. If your church is at a critical place (and by that I mean, it’s either change or die), then you have to lead with conviction and the willingness to lose your job. I don’t think I could have made the changes I did if I was not willing to be fired. You must be able to make hard changes/decisions, but you can’t do that effectively if you’re too worried about losing your job.
Confront the power group. Many pastors are pushed out of their church because of bullies. They just quit. But this goes back to point one, don’t quit. Be willing to get fired! If they force you out, they will do it to next guy. Stay. Stand your ground. Buck the bullies and perhaps you will save the church. Otherwise, they’re going to kill it.
Developing a youth ministry takes multiple steps. I have an entire tweet thread about this, Click here.
Provide excellent services. Our church was six miles from the main town. We were not the most practical option. Yet, we still grew. People are willing to drive 45 minutes and pass 20 churches to get to your church if you do things with excellence. Provide great worship services. Preach strong sermons. Offer meaningful groups and service opportunities. Your location won’t matter if you have top notch ministries for your people.
Preach on missions. I heard a story about a new pastor. Not long after arriving at his church, he started a door knocking campaign in his community and invited the church to come. One influential member, however, did not approve. The pastor didn’t get permission to start this new ministry. It didn’t end well for that man. If you’re going to get your people motivated to do outreach, you must preach on evangelism, the gospel, and missions. They need to see the why before the you give them the how.
Kill sacred cows. There are two ways to kill sacred cows—quickly or slowly. You must assess which option is best. I had a lady who gave 20 minutes worth of “missions” announcement once a month before service. It was her sacred cow. I had to kill that in one fell swoop. Did it cost me? Yes, but it had to be done for the sake of our worship service. Other changes were made slowly…like the worship service itself. We got to the point where our service was excellent, but it didn’t start that way. We changed slowly over many years. Assess the sacred cow. Determine how to kill it.
Prepare your people for change. I told you the story about the member who upset the new lady nursing her baby. That was only once occurrence. Other times, members got mad that someone was in their seat or service was too full or fill in the blank. It was 1000 different things. The thing is this, churches want to grow until they start growing. Growth brings organic change. What I mean is, you will make systemic changes as a leader, but if you grow numerically, there will be natural changes in your church as a result of bring in new people. And often, pastors and churches are not ready for that. It’s your job to prepare your people for such unexpected change. People must be patient, kind, understanding, flexible…they must be Christians! Prepare them to embrace the changes.
Bless your community. Find ways to become a blessing to your community. Offer your building for birthday parties. Place door hangers on people’s doors letting them know you prayed specifically for their home. Put on a block party. Do a VBS and invite all the kids in the area. Get creative and find ways to repair your reputation.
Adopt and teach the tier system. So many pastors would save themselves hours of heartache if they would understand and teach doctrinal tiers. Not every doctrine is worth dividing/fighting over. First tier issues determine whether you’re a Christian. Second tier matters determine whether we can worship together. Third tier issues are debatable but not worth dividing over.
- Plan to stay and love your church. If you try to make 1000 changes in the first year, you will wear your people out. It’s been said, pastors’ overestimate what they can accomplish in a year and underestimate what they can accomplish in ten. Learn your people. Love them and stick around long enough to make wise changes. And do it at a pace they follow and accept.
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