The pastor came to me with concern. People were leaving his church – long term, stalwart members were leaving. I give him credit, at least he was concerned about this exodus. I speak with too many pastors who do not take a concerned attitude over people leaving. Be your a church, manufacturer, corporate business, or retail establishment, people will leave for differing reasons. When you have a collective exodus, you have a reason for concern.
In this particular case, it was later determined, these long-term, formerly stalwart, members were leaving in large part because they no longer felt as if their voices were being heard or appreciated. The pastor (and other leaders) discounted these members as not liking the changes taking place in the church. Occasionally I hear, “People don’t like change, especially in church.” I disagree with this statement. People change in every area of life. However, people do not like change forced on them.
In the church, it is important to lead change and not force change. Leading change means bringing people along, not forcing the square peg into a round hole. In leading change you compel people to want to come along. When people feel their voice isn’t being heard is often a sign that leadership has not communicated well enough and is not leading the organization.
Serving in retail management, I was weekly looking at all upcoming ads for the next six months. Daily and weekly ½ page ad, weekly full-page ads, monthly and quarterly 15-20 page ads. Each week checking design, layout, proper photos, pricing, order cycles for each product, inventory, and more. By the time the ad came out I was sick of looking at it. Yet, I had to remember my salespeople were seeing it for the first time.
When they asked questions about a particular ad, my thoughts were, “we covered that months ago.” Then, I remembered, “No, I covered that months ago. This is brand new to them.” The same is true in the church. What seems old and well covered to the leaders, still needs great, simplified communication to the members of your organization.
When any person feels they are being pushed into change, there will be a rebellion of some sort. This is true of every person, even the CEOs of the largest corporations. Change is something we must be led into, guided through, and invited to accept as our own.
Take time to over-communicate what is about to happen, why it is happening, and the benefits to come to everyone individually as well as the organization corporately.
George Yates is the Church Health Strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, assisting churches and individuals in pursuing God’s purpose for life. Learn more at ALSBOM.org/revitalization.