Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Three keys to successful change

It is common knowledge that churches are averse to change but, then again, who isn't. The marketplace, education, military and government are all slow to embrace change. On the other hand, change (or adaptation) is essential to both organizational and individual survival. Some organizations are clearly better than others at managing change. In fact, I once wrote about how Baptists' ability to change enabled the denomination to grow and thrive for over 400 years.

It is sudden change that is usually viewed negatively. A slamming on of breaks, a quick acceleration, or a sharp turn sends people and objects forcefully in the opposite direction. Who likes that?

Churches that manage change successfully do so in small steps. In his book, Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries, Peter Sims demonstrates how small changes allow organizations to adapt quickly and experience growth. They allow you to accumulate small wins while minimizing losses. Small wins add up without destroying the structures that are necessary for a church's survival. Small changes allow for course corrections as you navigate through troubled waters.

Churches that manage change successfully plan ahead. We must be like the men of Issachar who understood the times and knew what to do (1 Chronicles 12:32). Seek to understand what is driving the need for change. Determine what the influencers in your church are thinking. Once the details are worked out, let the influencers tell the story. Communicate the upcoming change through multiple media, pointing out the benefits to the church and its members. Afterward, tell stories of how the change had a positive impact on the church. Meanwhile, plan the next move.

Churches that manage change successfully understand that not everyone will be on board. There will be a small group who will immediately love the idea. They will be followed by the early adopters who were recruited by the first group. As momentum builds, a good idea will spread and the majority will embrace the change. There will always be a small number of laggards. Some will never accept the change and might leave but most of them will stay.

How do you adapt to the changes in your life?

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