“As leaders, we have to chart the course and make bold steps toward the destiny God has designed for us.”
The very fact that we’re leaders means we have to chart the course and make bold steps toward the destiny God has designed for us.
The problem is … it doesn’t always work. Change is a scary proposition for most people, and so it’s not always received with the enthusiasm we envision.
Today I’m going to clarify why change is so hard for churches, and a few things we can do to make it easier:
1. Unbridled Tradition
Tradition is great—it’s one of the things all of us look forward to in our lives. Vacation traditions, family traditions, holiday traditions. No matter what your personality, you find comfort and meaning in the few things that don’t change in your life. Everybody does.
The problem with tradition in churches is when programs and practices become an end in themselves rather than a means to an end.
If the Great Commission and the Great Commandment are our marching orders, and our goal is to reach and grow people, then our focus has to be on the mission, not on the means.
Question: Are there traditions, programs, silos or sacred cows holding your church back from impact?
If so, are you willing to shift the emphasis to the mission and off of the means?
2. Dysfunctional Structure
Just like our physical bodies need a structure (skeleton), so our churches need structure. Structures are the people and processes you use and the way you organize them.
The best structures for creating positive change are the ones where decisions can be made quickly, trust is built through flowing communication and authority comes with responsibility.
Whenever there’s frustration on your team, it’s wise to ask whether the structure is creating problems. Fixing structural problems is one of the quickest ways to gain momentum and raise morale.
How’s your structure?
3. Unresolved Conflict
Jesus made it clear that unity in the Body of Christ is a non-negotiable. It’s intended to be the hallmark of Christianity in the world.
The truth is, teams with unresolved conflict cannot make significant progress until the problems are addressed and the conflicts are dealt with in a healthy way.
4. Lack of Faith
Years ago, Rick Warren did a study on the 100 fastest growing churches in America. He was looking for the common leadership characteristics in the leaders of these effective churches.
What he discovered is each leader was a very unique, with the exception of one quality: great faith.
Both the task and the challenges of church leadership are outrageous, and they require a leader who has the faith to believe God will prevail.
What are you believing about yourself and your church?
5. Fuzzy Vision
As my mentor Nelson Searcy says, “people say no to what’s confusing.”
If the vision for our churches is foggy, the buy-in will be minimal. What people are looking for in life is a purpose, a clear and burning opportunity to connect their lives with something greater and more enduring. And when a leader clarifies a clear and compelling vision and asks people to sign on, they do.
Personally, this is the most difficult part of leadership for me, but it’s also where I see the greatest payoffs for the work I put in.
A good vision answers the question, “What will it be like when we get there?”
How can you help answer this question for your team and church?
Gabe Kolstad is the lead pastor of Westside Community Church in Beaverton, Oregon, a certified trainer with Church Leader Insights and a multi-time advanced coaching expert with Nelson Searcy. This article was originally published on GabeKolstad.com.