Change in any arena is challenging at best and just downright difficult and frustrating at worse. Whether that change is attempted in your home, business, workplace, or yes even in church it can be one of the most daunting tasks to take on. Change is inevitable, it is going to happen whether we want to it or not. Though it may be a difficult thing to d0 it is not impossible. As you embark on the journey called change here are some roadblocks that may help you navigate and understand the journey a little better.
1. Nostalgia – You know a church is locked in nostalgia when they keep talking about the way it used to be, rather than talking about what is ahead of them. It is interesting that when Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt. He told them that they were headed to a land flowing with milk and honey. However, the people never asked or really inquired about the land. You never hear them asking Moses “Tell us more about that land” or “Moses I can’t wait to get there” or “When we get there it will be the best land ever” But they do make references over and over again about going back to Egypt. They are constantly looking back and remembering the fish, cucumbers, onions, leeks, and garlic. Though they were free now they would rather go back into slavery, believing that the years past were the best years. I pastored a church whose “glory days” were at its height between 1946 – 1971. I arrived in 1999, and the church had been on the decline for at least the last 20 years. Though the vibrancy and effectiveness had long departed, they continued to talk about they way it used to be. Nostalgia can prevent the change that is necessary.
2. Methodology – When a church has decided that a particular practice or way of doing something is immovable, immutable and seems fundamental to to the organization, it will not change. Methods and traditions can be so strong that Jesus says it can make the word of God of no effect. A certain method may have worked before and could have been effective for a certain time period. When the method does not get the job done the method needs to change. I remember ironing a shirt with spray starch as I normally do, but for some reason the wrinkles were not coming out the way they normally do. What I discovered was as I pushed the button to spray the starch. It was making the “shhhhh” noise but nothing was coming out. My method was the same but it was not effective. Churches oftentimes will employ a method, and will continue to make the “sound” but the fact that the method is not effective unfortunately may not really matter. The method must never become more important than the mission.
3. Disunity – Every church has the “squeaky wheel” individual who wants to disrupt every single plan. In some cases it is good to keep that individual around because they will often think of loopholes that everyone else forgot. Change requires that every member of the team to have the same goal in mind. That the vision and mission are known and that all their energies can be concentrated in the same direction. When everyone on the team is doing their own thing and has their own vision change will be very difficult.
We must find ways around, over, or through these roadblocks to achieve the change needed, to have the hand and voice needed to make an impact.