Facilitating Change

The following summary is replicated with permission from Current Thoughts&Trends, Colorado Springs, CO. Phone (888) 283-0157.

The most difficult changes to make are those that involve something connected with worship or Sunday [Sabbath] morning scheduling, especially a new service, new times for Sunday [Sabbath] events, and incorporating contemporary worship into the existing services.

There are some techniques that can help a church move away from the resistant mode of operation.

(1) Propose changes as means of getting to an already accepted goal. Use your mission statement to back up the need for a change. Don't have a mission statement? Take time to develop one before you try to introduce anything new.

(2) Present innovations as extras, not as substitutes for the familiar. People naturally fear loss. You'll have more freedom to try new things if you protect as much of the old as possible.

(3) Use short-term experiments rather than asking for long-term commitment. This simple idea can benefit both the proponents of change and the defenders of status quo. A trial phase allows for examination after a fixed amount of time. If the program is meeting the goals of the mission statement, it will be more readily accepted for long-term implementation. If not, it can be discarded or postponed without a great loss of dignity or reputation.

(4) Welcome everyone's input. People are more likely to "buy in" when their own ideas become part of the plan. The plan itself may actually become significantly stronger through this collaborative process.

(5) Create a thirst for something new. Remind people that continuing to do things in the same way will most likely yield the same results, not the realization of a dream. Negative discontent is a desire to leave the present for the romanticized past. Positive discontent is a desire to leave the present for the hope of a better future.

(6) Begin with the leadership. Follow the steps of explaining the idea to a core group, collaborating with the committed workers, and then sharing with the whole congregation. By doing so, you establish a network of supporters who each have a personal sphere of influence within the local congregation.

This is a summary of the article, "The fine art of change" by Charles Arn. Rev., Nov/Dec 1999 (Vol 3, No 2). Pages 64-68. Topic: change in the church. See also 17a and Nov 99-19a.

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