Change. This six letter word can either create panic or elicit excitement. And both responses depend on how the change is presented, communicated and validated. Change in the church can be a difficult thing to sell.
Members get comfortable, employees settle into routine and leadership often settles for the status quo.
However, change is necessary for a church that is growing, thriving and making a difference in its community.
Change in a church can be as simple as tweaking a volunteer’s job description to as complex as building a new facility.
Either can have the same results for those who are impacted by the change – depending on how the need for change is communicated.
For instance, if an employee’s job responsibilities need to be modified, it is important to think about how the decision to make that change will impact the employee.
6 Tips For Managing Change in the Church
1. Think About the Impact
As leaders, we sit in planning meetings and get excited about the next new thing. We “get” why a change is necessary and get excited about pushing a new initiative.
However, most changes impact people.
Think about how the proposed change will impact key stakeholders – employees, volunteers or members.
For instance, think about the stakeholders and answer the question, “how will this impact me”?
Once you can answer that question, you can address any issues that would impact their resistance.
The more effective you can be in answering those questions, the easier it will be for people to embrace the change.
2. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
One of the biggest mistakes organizations make when rolling out change initiatives is announcing the change and then going silent.
As church leaders we need to give stakeholders (employees, volunteers or members) time to absorb the new information, understand the reason for the change and come to terms with the inevitable.
Be present during this transition by being available to answer questions, clarify intent and support those who may be struggling with the change.
3. Explain the Why
People get comfortable, set in their ways and it is often difficult for them to accept a change unless they understand the reasons behind these important decisions.
We do a good job putting a communication plan in place to explain what the change will be and how we plan to implement it. However, stakeholders need to understand the why so they can accept and support the change initiative.
Explain why a change is necessary so stakeholders can understand the intent.
For instance, if you are changing software programs to save time, money and improve a process – explain that. Learning new software can be difficult and frustrating but if stakeholders understand why the change is necessary they will more easily embrace and support it.
4. Clarify Misunderstandings
What people don’t know, they tend to make up or fill in the blanks. Before a major change is announced, spend some time thinking about how that change will impact all stakeholders – employees, volunteers and church members.
While in the planning stage, select a few employees to pitch the idea to and let them ask questions. You may learn about some concerns that you hadn’t thought of.
Address those concerns and when you roll out the change answer employee questions before they have a chance to ask them.
For instance, if the church will be changing their health care benefits, provide employees with the information that will answer their questions about cost, coverage and claim processing.
5. Lead By Example
Some changes are made to save budget dollars. Be aware of your communication and try to avoid speaking negatively about a necessary change.
If employees hear you grumbling, they will surely follow your lead.
Even if you struggle with a necessary change, lead by example and be the cheerleader that it will take to get everyone on board.
6. Consider The Details
Don’t sabotage the initiative by not providing the necessary resources to pull it off.
Every major change requires a lot of behind the scenes work. Take the time to figure out what steps need to be taken to implement and identify someone to make it happen.
If it means pulling an employee off of other responsibilities during the transition make sure they have the time and resources to devote to the change effort.
There is a saying about change in that it is constant
Managing change explains the why, answers the question – how will this impact me and provides the resources to implement it. These simple steps can help you avoid the resistance that comes when you say that six letter word – change!