Leading Change In Ministry: 5 Questions To Ask Before Initiating Change

Featuring Branon Dempsey Posted on March 6, 2008

"Change," is the most feared word in the Church.
"Patience," is the most feared word in Worship and AV Ministries.

Now What? Change in ministry, whether staffing, direction, mission-vision or re-assignments can either stop followers in their tracks or hinder leaders in processing and making effective decisions. Suggested book: John Kotter, "Leading Change" is a good resource for teams and leaders to ascertain change and how it is or isn't received.

Think COW
Your idea may be the best idea since the invented wheel. But who will lead your idea? What role will you play in your idea? You may find that your idea may be worth more considering for others' sake.

C - Consider - the people first.
Having a vision is a wonderful thing, but having input is what makes it fly. How will your idea benefit others? Additionally, the need for change begins with the end in mind. Are your people wondering if you're giving them a green light to participate?

O - Overtime - introduce change slowly.
When change moves slowly, you begin to learn more about the people and the process.  This helps you navigate more cautiously as your newly introduced idea politely befriends people. When your idea is "shared" rather than "shoved" people will be more open to receive change.

W - Wait - be hurry to wait.
Let patience have it's perfect work with you as others catch on. This will breed buy-in and ownership, without them change will be a frustration to others and possibly cause animosity within the group you are trying to lead or influence.

Story of a Cow: a business man and a church.
A business man in a power suit grows impatient with the cow on the other side of the fence. After ranting and raving he demands, "Cow...I want you to produce milk for me right here, right now." The cow just stares back at him chewing his cud. The man hollers out, "Hey cow! Make me milk or I'll turn you into hamburger!!" The cow has the same non-response. (Story Source by Leonard Sweet)

What's actually going on in this picture? The cow is producing milk. By chewing and processing the grass over-time, milk is the final result. Change can feel like this.

Wise Questions to Ask Before Change is Introduced.
Here are five questions to post/think that may gauge team and leader perceptions and/or ministry strategies. Basically, these questions can foster healthy dialogues and give both the team and leaders a common ground to listen and discuss.

 1. What are the five most important things about our ___________ that need to be preserved and why? (Form a Need)

2. What are the top three things we need to change and why? (Form a Plan)

3. How will this help or hurt you? (Form a Purpose)

4. What role will you play in this idea? (Form a Commitment)

5. What are our celebrated short & long term goals? (Form a Follow-through & Party)

Overall: How you consider, overtime and wait in your leading of change, you set people's expectations in a healthy was while you also establish credibility and precedence.