So, you’ve just taken a new pastorate. Part of your mandate during the selection process was that the church needed to change to reach its community.
Or you’ve been in your pastorate for a while. You love the place and the people, but it’s clear to you that the church is going to have to change in order to move forward in its mission to reach its community. It’s apparent that you are going to have to make some hard calls and lead some risky change initiatives.
You’ve heard the horror stories of pastors who tried to lead change too fast and ran afoul of strong, long-term volunteer leaders. And you’ve heard the regrets of friends in the ministry who wish they had demonstrated the courage to change.
We’re in the business of helping those in positions of spiritual leadership lead change. Even more to the point, we help leaders craft a culture that welcomes and embraces change.
It’s what we do and what we are passionate about.
When we sit down with a pastor for the first time, our goal is to understand their situation, their gifting, their context, their deepest passions for ministry. We apply personalized tools and our experience to help them assess both themselves and their church. And then – with relational health and missional integrity first and foremost we help design a process for change that leads to empowered leaders and real ministry effectiveness.
So, how do you start? There are two early tasks that have to be nailed in order to set you up for a successful change initiative.
1. The first task of leadership is to distinguish between what needs to be preserved and what needs to change. As you work through changes in your church, make sure not to lose sight of what is valuable and needs to be preserved and built upon. Make sure you know your church’s code – your DNA – and build your cultural change upon this foundation.
2. When you come into an existing church knowing you need to make changes, make sure not to condemn the past. Always frame your vision in an upbeat, positive way. Your job is not to erase the past but rather to help people envision a brighter future. The people you now serve were part of the past – honor their contributions, effort, and investment. Even the most dysfunctional church has things in its past that are worthy. Dwell on these even as you chart a course to the future.
So, step one is to DIAGNOSE (that which needs to change and that which needs to be preserved) and step two is to HONOR (the good parts of the church’s past and the people that have given themselves in service).