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Years ago we had to change the location of our worship service. As we moved our equipment out of the old location some of the younger ladies were in tears. As a young pastor I did not know what to say. And yet I also felt their lost and pain.
Change can be hard on a local church. Even if you know a particular change is the best thing for everyone in your church, change can be difficult. Now this is one of the reasons why change is so hard on a local church. In our culture change seems to get faster and faster. And our minds and emotions have trouble keeping up with these changes.
Itâ€™s like driving in Boston while the tunnel was being built. Every week they changed the traffic patterns. Just when you got use to the new traffic patterns they changed the patterns again. And this went on for several years. It was frustrating.
But if there is one place we expect what I call â€śthe stability of the sameâ€ť it is in the local church. We expect relationships to remain the same. And we expect the programs of the church to remain the same. But letâ€™s not fool ourselves. Relationships do change. People die, move away, or even go to other churches. And programs become ineffective and die.
If you are a pastor or church leader you know it can be hard to bring about needed changes in the local church. On the one hand, if we do not bring about change, our ministry may become unproductive. But one the other hand, if we force change we run the risk of hurting the people we love and even losing their support.
But when handled correctly change can bring a blessing to a church or organization. Let me share with you four questions you can raise when you think changes are needed in your local church or organization.
1. Is this change really needed? I had a seminary classmate who often made this statement. â€śDonâ€™t trouble, trouble.â€ť In other words, donâ€™t change something unless it really needs to change. If something is working then leave it alone.
2. Do I have a Biblical mandate to bring about change? As leaders in the church of Jesus Christ we need to do Godâ€™s work in Godâ€™s way. We donâ€™t want to follow the latest fad of our day. We do not want change something for the sake of change. We don't want to change something based upon my personal desires.
3. Is my leadership team supportive of the change? If the leaders are not with me in bring about change then something is wrong. Perhaps I have not explained myself correctly. Perhaps my timing is wrong. Perhaps I simply need to give up the idea. I never make a major change without the support of my leaders.
4. Are there others I need to get on board to help bring about change? If there is a need to change something about the worship service then maybe I need to consult with the musicians. My rule of thumb is to consult with everyone who will be directly affected by the change. And that may mean having a congregational meeting.
5. What are the steps needed to bring about change? I need to map out with the leaders the steps we will take to bring about change. This requires prayerful consideration.
I now know what I would say to those young ladies as the men carried out our equipment to the new worship location. I would be more open about my emotions. â€śYes, this change is hard for me. Like you I have grown attached to this building.â€ť But I would also affirm them. â€śGod has something better for us. Thank you for your faithfulness."
It may not be easy to deal with change in the local church. But it can be done in a way that glorifies God and helps His people grow in grace. And thatâ€™s the bottom line for everything we do in the church. We want to glorify God and help Godâ€™s people grow in grace.