Every leader wrestles with leading change. In fact, it is the leader’s job to help an organization grow. Wherever you have growth, you will also have change. Leaders that grow organizations have to be able to lead change. Leading change is a part of every leader’s job description, including leaders of the Church.
I was recently asked to share my “roadmap” for leading change with a group of people. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the best roadmap for leading change in the Church is the process the original Church in Jerusalem used. The first church was a growing church – that meant that it was a changing church. In the Acts we see many of God’s principle’s for leading change. If there is a roadmap for change, God’s Word – not business models – are the plan we need to follow.
Let’s take a look at a few biblical principles for how church leaders can lead change.
Lead from prayer and the Spirit’s leading! The Church in Jerusalem began with the Apostles and core group meeting for prayer. They made seeking God the first thing they did. Following prayer, the Church was filled with the Holy Spirit and He lead them to organize for growth. A leader who leads change bathes every decision in prayer and follows the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
Have the right reasons for change! Good organizations never change just for the sake of change. They change because the mission demands it. Every organization will struggle with mission drift and will need constant mid-course corrections to stay on course. Many times the Jerusalem Church needed to change to fulfill the mission. The mission never changed, but how they were organized and structured to accomplish the mission did.
Consult key people when changing! Several times in the development of the original Church, you see church leaders gathering to discuss the need for change. Those discussions were not always easy. At times they were even confrontational. If, however, you have the mission in focus, change will always be easier to navigate.
Communicate clearly, consistently, and compellingly! A leader has to communicate the need for change. That’s his or her job. If a church needs to shift from a program mentality of disciple making to a disciple making process, the pastor’s job is to communicate that need for change in a clear, consistent, and compelling way. If the change lines up with the Holy Spirit, the mission, and has buy-in from key leaders, the pastor can communicate with confidence.
Change will take time! Don’t hurry change. It takes time. Every act of change has early responders and late responders and you need to take your time to get as many people on board as possible. If you communicate clearly, consistently, and compellingly then time is your friend. If you don’t communicate well, you will never have enough time.
Remember that some people will not change! Every leader must accept the fact that not everyone will accept change. As a church planter I watched people who were not comfortable with the changes leave our church. I hated to see them leave, but I hated the lack of growth even more. Sometimes change hurts, but change is always worth the hurt.
Impact Discipleship Ministries exists to inspire people and churches to be and build disciples of Jesus Christ. We want to help leaders bring about positive change that accomplishes the mission of making disciples. Contact us for more information and coaching when it comes to leading change.