The mark of a healthy organization is its ability to grow in new directions. This can be more difficult than it seems on the surface. Your congregation likely has clear ideas of what it expects from the church, and any attempt to alter that reality can be seen as an unnecessary or maybe even hostile act. Whether you are introducing a new outreach program or an opportunity to learn how to be more inclusive of LGBTQIA+ members, the way you approach the desired change can have a big impact on how successful it will be.
Reflect on the Process
It's easy to get excited about a proposed change and want to dive right into making it happen. To get other people on board, however, you need to start cautiously and be able to explain your motivation behind wanting the change. Take some time to meditate or pray about the decision. Then ask yourself the following questions:
- Why is this change important?
- How will the change benefit the congregation?
- How will the change affect the organization's relationship with the community?
- Are there any potential drawbacks?
- Why are you proposing the change at this particular time?
- How much, if anything, is the change going to cost?
These are just a few of the questions that congregants are likely to have, and having the answers shows them that you have given the idea some thought. Being able to address their concerns from the start reveals that you are not just making the change on a whim.
Build a Core Team
Once you have the support of the majority of members, you need to have specific people in charge of implementing the change. This core team will conduct research on the subject, set the timeline for each step of the process and keep the congregation informed of its progress. Even if the change is a relatively small one, it's still good to have a group of people leading the charge. Making adjustments to the way you do things is a big job, and working together can help them avoid burnout and keep each other accountable to the task. Everyone in the church should know who is on the team so that they know whom to contact if they have questions or concerns.
Keep Church Involved
Any process that affects the whole church should be open to everyone. It is not enough to have the initial meeting where you announce the change and answer questions and then inform everyone when the whole process is complete. They need to be encouraged to be involved along the way. This not only communicates transparency from the leadership but also helps all members build a sense of ownership in the direction the church is going.
The team should update the church at least once a month on its progress. If there are specific events involved, others should be invited to participate or help lead the events. Intentional communication that spells out the specific reason you are taking on each task in the process may seem awkward at first, but the benefits of clear direction outweigh the risk of coming across as repetitive or obvious.
Learning how to implement necessary changes makes your church more resilient in the long run. That doesn't mean the process is always easy. Even when the majority of people agree that a particular change needs to be made, unlearning established habits or making time to take on new projects can be a challenge. To ensure that the implementation of your desired change is successful, you must meet this challenge directly. Articulate the plan, build a core group to carry it out and invite everyone to be a part of it.