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When you want to be successful in a new venture or making a change, it is wise to get those traveling your journey with you to understand and agree with your goal and the plan to reach that goal. This is what I call the buy-in. I have come to the belief that people are not necessarily afraid of change. Fears of change, however, do appear when change appears to be forced on them. In other words, people accept change as it grows on them, as they become comfortable with it. In implementing change in a church, you will normally find that a small percent (three to five) will grab hold of the vision of the change when you first introduce the idea of change. Some of these are the people you need on your strategy planning and implementation team.

As you work through the planning process, a few more will grow comfortable with the idea of the coming change—as long as you keep them informed. Uninformed people are ill-informed people. You do not need to give every detail, but give a steady progression of the planning and implementation strategy. Once you roll out the change, the majority of people will follow along, some with skepticism, others with willing acceptance.

Even after the change has been implemented, there will be yet another three-to-five percent who may be the holdouts. Though they can see the change and perhaps its benefits, these are the unfluctuating few. For some it may appear to be too drastic of a move out of their comfort zone. For others it may be a style or culture change, and for others still it could be a venture away from tradition in the church. Most of these members will in time join the change.

While you do not wish anyone to leave your congregation, change will be too great for a few and you may lose them. As a leader you must be ready for this. You want to minimize this, and the more you can inform the congregation to alleviate their fears and doubts as you move through the planning and implementation phases, the more “buy-in” you will receive from a larger number of members and attendees. As people buy-in to the impending change, they will become agents of change for you. They will also carry the beacon of needed change and adjustment.

Providing the change you are making is God centered and Holy Spirit driven, buy-in will be greater and fallout will be lessened. Many pastors and church leaders attempt to implement changes based on their desires and what they have seen or heard of other churches doing. This is dangerous and will cause disruptions and fallout. Principle to utilize: Don’t copy models, capture principles. What were the biblical principles that brought about the success at the other church. Use the principle found with your church’s gift mix matched to meeting the needs in your community. Don’t copy the model of what someone else did, capture the principle. After all, if it is not God’s desired plan of action for the church, it will likely not succeed regardless of how well it has worked elsewhere.

Who are your early adopters, your visionaries who can see where you’re leading under God’s direction? How will you include these in your planning process?

Adapted from Turnaround Journey, pg 35-36

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