Change is a challenge for many churches. It seems like nobody wants to change. Pastors and leaders, who come to recognize that the church is not as effective as it could or should be, try to introduce change. Unfortunately, some people rebel. Sometimes it gets ugly. Why?
For one thing, most people don’t like change. Mark Twain once said, “The only person who likes change is a baby with a wet diaper.” Yet, why is it so hard for Christians? Christians know more about change than anyone. We talk about repentance to forgiveness, death to life, mortal to immortal, from lost to found. We ought to be experts about change and it ought to come much easier.
Yet, do some people resist change in your church? Do you? Unfortunately we confuse the content of our faith (Jesus who is always the same) with the baggage of our religion: certain songs, instruments, programs, buildings, etc. What happens? We baptize the containers, the rituals, the methods, and call them Christian doctrine. But Christianity is a relationship with Jesus Christ. It is a commitment to biblical truth.
Focus on these issues:
- Ask yourself, “What is raw Christianity?” What is content and what is just packaging? Die for the content, not the packaging.
- Help people change incrementally—step-by-step. Help people take little bites, one at a time, which is the best way to eat the elephant.
- Understand that everyone has a different tolerance level for change. Early adopters change easily and often. Middle adopters take some time. Late adopters follow a “wait and see” or “show me” attitude. Never adopters…well, never change. There will always be casualties.
- Focus on what you would go to the wall for. Make sure that the things you would die for are the things Jesus would die for.
- What about those who are resisting change? Go easy on them. Pray for them. Ask God for help to understand change and accept it.
How have you effectively implemented change in your church? We welcome your comments below.
Kent Hunter, founder of Church Doctor Ministries, is known as the Church Doctor. His most recent e-books are The Future Is Now and The J-Dog Journey, available at no cost. Contact him at (800) 626-8515, by email, Twitter, Facebook, or visit www.churchdoctor.org.