2 Questions on Change
Every organization — including the church — is called upon to change. It is not for the sake of change but it is because of the context in which we live. Change occurs whether we like it or loathe it. Life is an ever-morphing set of circumstances. So, as we lead our churches and other organizations, we must face the difference between two critical questions.
- Who wants change?
- Who wants to change?
And now you see why leading change is difficult. Some church members wish for the church to operate by their nostalgia. They have chosen their favorite era of history and desire for the operations of the church to be rooted there… permanently. To them, change is a sign of compromise to the world or betrayal against their early principles/convictions/preferences. But, in the end, most people recognize that change is necessary for the church to grow. They are willing to allow some change to the organizational structure and ministry operations.
The deeper question of “Who wants to change?” is usually the sticking point. The leadership riddle all leaders must solve is this: People want organizational progress but resist personal change. Church members want development and growth for the church as a whole. The issue is whether or not they will accept development and growth in their own lives. As pastors, we lead them to not just accept change in an organization but to desire change in themselves.
It begins by asking the questions… out loud… in front of the leader in the church. Describing reality is often the first duty of a leader. Start by helping the influencers of the congregation to acknowledge that there is a difference. And, perhaps, there is a problem.
Then, chart a path of discipleship. Plan out what truths must be heard and applied to everyday life for those who like change when it is at a distance. It is the kind of discipleship that has to do with conversations, teaching sessions, and lots of words; but it must cross the bridge into everyday experiences and relationships.
Always maintain the proper purpose for organizational and personal change. Change for its own sake only sets up an idol that Christ will have to destroy. Your first and most joyous duty as a leader is to give people a deep understanding of Christ. Set Christ as the guide and goal for change so that people will be drawn to follow in the right model for church life and personal discipleship.
Change is a reality. Disciple people to follow Christ in it and you will set hearts ablaze for His mission.