I don’t care what anyone else says, change is hard. The reason people stay where they are is because they are comfortable.
When I was the Executive Pastor at Granger Church, we made many changes through the years, and I have some scars to show for them. We canceled services, changed locations, ended women’s ministry (gasp!), discontinued a weekly gathering that had nine hundred people regularly attending, built buildings, released staff, and shifted the church toward a new vision.
It’s not easy, but change is good. Change may be hard for those ingrained in the institution, but change attracts new people.
Change is messy, and change is risky. But most of all, change is a process.
Here are six steps for beginning to manage the process of change in your church.
1. Make the case for change. You have to clearly describe why it is important to change. What will be lost by staying where you are? What will be gained by making the change?
2. Create urgency for the change. You never want to bend the facts or skew the stats, but you do want to clearly show that you can wait no longer for the change.
3. Make the decision for the change. There comes a point when the time for waiting for additional buy in is over, and the decision must be made.
4. Communicate the change. This is so crucial that I’ve devoted an entire chapter in my book Fairness Is Overrated about this issue.
5. Implement the change. Many leaders lose the battle here. They like casting vision for change and getting people excited, but they don’t like the daily grind of implementation. Find someone who can carry the ball all the way to the end zone with methodical consistency.
Consider changing the change. After going through all the work of change, it’s easy to convince yourself that the new way is sacred. It’s not. And perhaps a few years down the road, it will be time to consider another change.
To effectively manage change in your church, you need all hands on deck. You can’t do a big change with one eye on the change and one eye on something else. Everyone needs to focus on it at the same time.
The former head of General Electric, Jack Welch, said, “Anytime you start something new, put your very best person on the job. Otherwise it will fail.” That’s good advice for a large company. For a church, I would say, “Anytime you change something major, put all your best people on the change.”
For more helpful advice on effectively leading change on your church staff, check out my latest book Fairness Is Overrated: And 51 Other Leadership Principles To Revolutionize Your Workplace.