“How many church members does it take to change a light bulb?” Ever hear of this joke? The answer is that church members don’t change!
The unique culture of the church seems to make it harder to facilitate change than it is for other organizations. Dealing with the challenges of change is a major concern expressed by many pastors and ministry leaders.
Thriving churches know that growth requires change. But fear of change often paralyzes leaders from leading the changes needed to move forward. It’s keeping the church from fulfilling its potential.
Try these tips for healthier change outcomes:
- Communicate well. Good change cannot happen without good communication. Freely share your vision and plans. Communicate using a variety of methods, as people will pay attention to a style that grabs their attention.
- Identify key influencers. People look to others to shape their thinking. Watch for those who other people seem to follow. Take time to invest in these key influencers, answering their questions and sharing details about the change. The more they understand and own the process, the more they’ll help others embrace the change and get excited about it.
- Work with a team. Share ownership of the change process. If you’re the only person who’s leading the change, you’ve missed out on getting ownership from the people who will drive the change forward. The synergy and influence of a team will transfer the support to a larger group of influencers.
- Ask questions. Ask questions during the various stages of change implementation to assess if people are on board. When there is an emotional reaction to a proposed change, there is usually a deeper underlying reason. Take time to gently probe to discern how to help people work through their feelings.
- Allow time. Some people thrive on change. It energizes them, and they can’t wait to get started and see it through. Others take more time to warm up to new ideas. They need to ask questions, make a list of pros and cons, and even grieve over a lost or changed tradition. You don’t need to wait for every single person to jump on board, but do be considerate and patient with those who take more time.