The British-American author D.H. Lawrence said that “the world fears a new experience more than anything. Because a new experience displaces so many old experiences. A true experience changes us, and human beings do not like to change.”
Even in the face of overwhelming evidence, many church members will resist change because they are fearful of the implications and so adopt behaviors that thwart change initiatives.
The resistance is rarely understood or assessed by church leaders.
Yet, as a leader you are expected to help move the church through change and the perception of your performance is often tied to your ability to ensure the new way of doing things is adopted successfully.
So how do you navigate through change in the local church that is increasingly complex and against seemingly impossible odds?
First, you need to know a little about the nature of change.
The Nature of Change
People can handle change, even if it is thrust upon them if they can answer three fundamental and meaningful questions for themselves:
• “Why do I/we need to change?” – What is the purpose of the proposed change? Why is it better than current reality?
• “What is in it for me/us?” – How will this affect me? What do you need me to do? What are the benefits?
• “How will you help me/us?” – How will you insure successful implementation? What are the risks? What will you do to mitigate the potential negative impact of the change?
To know why provides a sense of purpose to the proposed change. The why is the meaning behind any sort of proposed change. If we know why we are to engage in a particular change, we are more likely to experience a spiritual connection with the change.
To know what addresses the self-centeredness in all of us that wants to know how the change will specifically impact us. While not avoiding addressing the personal impact of a change, effective change leaders refocus the benefits in terms of broader Church and Kingdom impact.
To know how relieves concerns about the risks associated with the change, where the money will come from and who will lead the change initiatives. Further, the how addresses leadership plans for implementing the proposed change.
On a fundamental level church leaders can expect members to resist change they don’t understand and when their input is not solicited.
Providing frequent and multiple forums for addressing the Why, What and How of proposed change enhances understanding and provides opportunity for input and questions. Further, it defuses resistance and enhances the likelihood of successful implementation.
Posted on October 7, 2014