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5 Things to Remember about Leading Change

Change for the sake of change is never good. It’s a waste of time, or worse, an abuse of people. It’s the issue that’s in front of every pastor and every leader and every congregation in one form or fashion…it’s not just you! And that’s why I want to offer a few reminders about leading and navigating change in your congregation.

  1. CHANGE IS DIFFICULT.

First of all, we’ll start with the easiest of reminders. Leading change is hard! That’s why most leaders and leadership boards “take a pass” on leaning into what they know in their heart needs to change.

My sense? If you put this in front of your leadership board/team, each person could tell where you can no longer afford to “take a pass” on a needed change.

  1. CHANGE IS NORMAL…

…unless you see the church as an institution instead of a living, breathing organism. It’s an anomaly that the body of Christ would be static and stoic.

My sense? A lot of folks around your table think of church as an “organization” and have forgotten the living, breathing organism that’s “sent” with Jesus as the head!

  1. CHANGE FOR THE SAKE OF THE MISSION OF GOD.

This change deserves our fullest attention and commitment…our deepest sacrifice. We arrive oftentimes at different answers when we consider change for congregational future or change for member comfort and convenience.

My sense? Change for the sake of “me” gets most of the votes here most of the time in most churches. Future viability of the congregation or the next generation wins occasionally. The mission of God…not so much…most of the time….

  1. CHANGE CAN HAPPEN WHEN THERE’S HOPE…

… of a better future… of fulfilling the mission of God! Leaders need hope! Leaders lift up hope!

My sense? Hope has been squeezed out of lots of leaders and lots of congregations. Most churches are sailing against significant headwinds…and some of them may be worse than your headwinds.

  1. CHANGE IN THE LEADER/LEADERSHIP BOARD…

…is the most quickly overlooked. In most congregations the most significant change is never going to occur until the leader(s) goes first!

My sense? I’ve always want to skip addressing the change needed in me and get on to the big stuff of changing them…the world…everything but me. Maybe you are more interested in seeing things change somewhere else and not with you, too!

I met with a good friend and pastor who is considering an assignment to an urban congregation down to a dozen or so members remaining. He’s sensing this could be the prompting of God. He sees opportunity, and enormous community needs. He sees the possibility of what could happen if other folks were prompted by God to do similar things.

It makes me wonder what could happen if dozens and hundreds and thousands of ordinary people listened for the prompting of God into His extraordinary mission even beyond their congregation. It makes me wonder what could happen!

Finally, I say thank you to gifted men and women already serving so well in similar settings!

Jock Ficken
Rev. Dr. Jock Ficken

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