Movement: A culture of constant personal and corporate growth and improvement is enabled through effective change management, self-development and a leadership pipeline

Sticky Change: Fostering Church Change That Lasts

“It is not the strongest species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.” Charles Darwin

Studies show that only 10% of people who have had heart bypass surgery make major changes to their diets and lifestyle behaviors afterward. Too frequently we don’t alter our behavior even in the face of overwhelming evidence we should. Nowhere is this more evident than in the local church.

How then do we steer church change and develop the appropriate organizational climate to make our change initiatives stick?

Imbedding Change in Church Staff

How we handle the change journey determines whether or not we will reach the destination. In my experience, imbedding change in the church begins with the church staff. If change sticks with church staff it is much more likely to become a part of the church’s culture.

Church change initiatives don’t stick when we drop the baton too quickly and fail to focus on the need to imbed, not just initiate change. So, where do we start?

In this article we will walk through the ten principles of sticky change. Following them can help church leaders accelerate acceptance and imbed change in their staff culture.

Ten Principles of Sticky Change


1. Focus on a Few Critical Shifts in Behavior

Identifying, emphasizing and equipping staff around the two or three behaviors critical to the success of the change initiative will help create the new habits required for the change to stick.

2. Identify Appropriate Awards and Recognition

Linking compensation to outcomes and recognizing and rewarding those who embrace the necessary behaviors, creates the incentives necessary for sustaining staff commitment to the change initiative.

 3. Create Alignment

Imbedding begins when every staff member and every ministry are required to have goals, strategies and tactics that are directly linked to the change initiative.

 4. Develop Quantifiable Measurements

Determining how you will measure success using specific metrics and major milestones will bring focus and clarity to the change outcomes you wish to accomplish.

 5. Review Progress Regularly

Reporting on the impact, reviewing progress and receiving feedback on the change initiative at regularly scheduled Staff Meetings is a necessary accountability tool.

6. Support with Required Resources, Barrier Removal and Coaching

Providing the resources the change initiative demands, removing potential obstacles, and offering one-on-one coaching when needed will better equip the staff to handle the hurdles of implementation.

 7. Build Momentum Through Communication

Supporting change initiatives with frequent communication of the benefits, short term wins and positive examples builds momentum by letting the staff know that their efforts are making an impact and not being taken for granted.

8. Deal with Poor Performance

Addressing promptly and decisively those who cannot (skill) or will not (attitude) adopt the change initiative builds morale and lets the staff know the importance of the change initiative.

 9. Design the Appropriate Structures

Reworking job descriptions, staff structure, policies and procedures to support the change initiative will facilitate the implementation and imbedding of the change in the church culture.

 10. Share Stories

Appealing to the passions and emotions by sharing real stories of life transformation that result from the change initiative moves the change from the head to the heart and makes the change personal rather than corporate.


As your church staff begin to make the transition and adopt change, you may wonder, when can we exhale, when can we take the foot off the gas?

It is safe to say that full commitment to and engagement with the change is a reality when the change becomes an everyday part of the staff culture. Don’t move on until the stated benefits of the change have been achieved and when staff are improving consistently.

Posted on May 26, 2015

Jim Baker

Jim is a Church Organizational Leadership and Management Coach, Consultant and Trainer. Throughout his career Jim has demonstrated a passion for showing Pastors and Ministers how to use organizational tools for church and personal growth and health.

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“For I may be absent in body, but I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see how well ordered you are and the strength of your faith in Christ.” Colossians 2:5