In a world of constant innovation, change in the church is inevitable.
Some changes are radical, bold, and exciting, while other changes are imminent, urgent, and inevitable.
Christians are faced with the reality that without change, the church can’t grow. Without growth, we fall short on pursuing the Great Commission.
Mastering the art of leading change is critical to the survival of the Christian faith, yet fear and comfort can keep us stagnant.
While change in the church can be rooted in various forms, it can be most daunting when people transition between ministries or leave the congregation altogether.
Under such circumstances, the congregation is pressed to respond. Initially, the change may come as a shock or relief, followed by a period of grief and adjustment, and over time people begin to embrace the hope for a different path ahead.
When people transitions take place, the void created by the change may cause a demoralizing team dynamic.
The adjustment of workload will temporarily increase the responsibilities of those who perform tasks within the ministry.
Unexpected reactionary behaviors may surface and some may question the vision and direction provided by the church leadership.
Recruiting the right person to resume the role may take time and questions from the team can surface as the search for the right person extends.
Perhaps the most devastating effects on a church can take place when a pastor transitions out of the congregation.
While people transitions are challenging, the role of the leader is to uphold the morale of the team and ensure the work continues.
Consider these 3 keys to prevent people transitions from disrupting your ministry:
1. Mourn the loss and celebrate the contributions.
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the transition, the grieving process is inevitable. Leaders who are cherished will be missed, and leaders who are better fit elsewhere will leave a void.
Mourning the loss of the individual is normal and time sensitive. Leaders need to acknowledge it and provide a safe place for staff, volunteers, and attendees to express their experience.
2. Acknowledge the current circumstance and prayerfully communicate reasons for the change.
We live in a world where transparency is valued, yet leaders must discern what information is pertinent to share and what information must be withheld.
When communicating broadly, acknowledging the current circumstances helps people understand the ‘why’ behind the change without disclosing delicate details about the transition.
This is especially important if the transition is due to unsatisfactory performance. Consider what staff and attendees need to understand in order to be successful in their role going forward.
The communication message regarding a person transition represents both the individual and the church.
A concise message without expressing gratitude about the individual’s contributions says much about the church culture. Understanding how to effectively communicate minimizes potential disruption within the church and it empowers the team to move onward.
3. Share the vision for what’s ahead
With the void that people transitions can create, those who remain on the team may question the destiny of their future.
The leader’s role is to prevent other valued staff and volunteers from voluntarily transitioning out of ministries. To effectively serve the team, leverage multiple communication channels to cast the vision, share the newly emerged opportunities, as well as the changes that have surfaced to how the work gets done.
Staff and volunteers expect church leaders to communicate the vision message, while managers who oversee the work are to deliver changes related to job scope and performance.
While we may dread the transitions of people when it comes to ministries, the situation also presents an opportunity for a fresh perspective and new talent to step up.
The essence of change is people, and people transitions are hard. Trusted leaders understand what motivates people and how to harness the team’s effort to achieve outcomes in the church. They also search to discover how to manage resistance in the church and align on expectations.
In the course, Lead Change in Your Church, Pam Marmon, who is an expert in Organizational Change Management, shares industry best practices and the transformation process required for your church to successfully deliver desired results.
The content also includes how to effectively communicate during transitions and troubleshoot change to manage resistance in the church. Pam’s vision is for the church to be the highest functioning organization in the world, and her goal is to equip church leaders with the resources to lead transformational change and elevate their leadership skills.
For a Limited Time: Smart Church Management subscribers will receive 20% off discount for the purchase of the Lead Change in Your Church course. Use coupon code: SmartChurch
This is a guest post by Pam Marmon who is an Organizational Effectiveness Sr. Consultant – Change Leader and Owner at Point B, Founder of Threefold Tribe. You can learn more about Pam here.