Leading change in church’s is difficult. I’ve heard that the only human being who likes change is a baby with a dirty diaper. While it can be painful sometimes, altering our methodology in the church is necessary.
About 300 years ago, George Whitefield and John Wesley led a great Evangelical Awakening in the United Kingdom. However, on a study abroad trip to England and Scotland, I was reminded of the need for transition within churches as we witnessed large cathedrals that no longer functioned as churches, but served as museums and concert halls. The churches in the UK suffered such decline and secularization because they refused to modify their methods to reach a changing culture. Our churches in the United States could suffer the same fate if we fail to adjust our methods to engage people in our culture with the gospel. Although the message of the gospel never changes, the methods and means by which we communicate it must constantly transition to engage the surrounding culture.
Sometimes it’s hard for leaders to lead revitalization in their churches. Let me suggest 10 tips which I hope will help you implement healthy change in your churches. I credit John Kotter’s helpful book Leading Change for ten of the steps below.
Sometimes it’s hard to determine what type of adjustment is needed. Scripture states, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5 ESV)
Read what the Scripture says.
The Apostle Paul presents a biblical precedent for changing to reach the culture when he states, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22 ESV)
Help your church members see the need.
Communicate to members why there is a need for change. If they do not first see the need, they will possess no motivation for change.
Build a team.
Formulate a team of leaders in the church who understand and share the need for change. Focus on key leaders within the church to serve on this team.
Develop a vision and strategy.
Utilize all of your team members to create this vision and strategy for change. The more people involved in this process, the more ownership they will feel towards the strategy.
Communicate the vision and strategy.
Share the strategy and vision for change through your team. Consistently keep the strategy in front of the church members.
Moblize your members to implement.
Encourage your members to take part in the implementation process. Allow them to use their gifts and abilities in enacting the transition in the church.
Celebrate small wins.
Lead the congregation in celebrating goals they accomplish in pursuing revitalization. As you celebrate these wins, momentum for revamping the church’s methods will grow.
Solidify the change and make it part of your church culture.
Using the momentum from small wins, carry the adjustment to completion and reinforce it until it becomes part of the DNA of the church culture.
Then, get ready for the next transition.
Following the steps above through the guidance of the Holy Spirit will help you successfully lead change through the church. Such an approach helps pastors and church leaders to shepherd church members in becoming “all things to all people” so that by all means they might save some.
For the original article that appeared on this topic in the Courier Journal, look here.
Tim is the Director of the Global Center for Youth Ministry and Associate Professor for Youth Ministry & Missions at Anderson University. He is lead pastor/planter of Mosaic Church of Anderson. Tim is also the author of Engaging Generation Z (Kregel Academic), No Better Gospel (Seeds Publishing Group), and the author and editor of Navigating Student Ministry (B&H Academic). His comments do not reflect the views of his employers and are his own personal views on various subjects.