Did you ever have to wear hand-me-downs, maybe from an older sibling or cousin? The fit might have been a little wrong, the style a little old or not true to you. Even if worn out of necessity, it never feels as “right” as wearing something that was picked out just for you.
Pastors put on hand-me-down visions all the time. And it doesn’t quite work.
God dreamed up the local church, and I believe He has beautifully unique plans for each, all centered on Jesus Christ. Too often, pastors invoke a flawed logic:
The methods that worked for such-and-such church will work for us.
When faced with the need to change, they put on a “successful” church’s old hat and try to rally the people around the new look instead of creating change that fits the church’s passions, values and principles. It doesn’t work in the long run. Authentic change comes from seeking God’s vision, clarifying who you’re trying to reach and acknowledging what’s unique about your position, in your city, in your place in time.
Authentic change is pulled from within, not put on from the outside. If you’re struggling to create change that lasts, start with these three questions.
1. Why do you need to change?
Everyone has an opinion, both people within your church and people who’ve never even been to your church. Just spend some time on social media: Arguments by well-meaning people (and some maybe not so well-meaning) abound about what the Church should look like. Pray and seek God about what needs to change specifically in your church. The obvious things are often only a symptom of a deeper issue. Ask God to reveal the areas most in need of improvement.
Additionally, make sure to ask several people you trust – perhaps even ask for an outside set of eyes – to help you see the issues in front of you for what they really are.
2. What are you good at?
Realizing you need to change doesn’t mean you are no longer doing anything right. What are your church’s greatest strengths? Which parts of the vision really connect with people? What gifts does your church have that are unique? When analyzing problems, it’s easy to get negative. Don’t let the current problems make you feel like you aren’t having any impact. Identify your strengths and re-frame your outlook so you can sustain the changes you begin.
3. How can you begin using your strengths to solve your problems?
With a list of what needs to change and the strengths of your church in front of you, get creative. How can your strengths address your challenges? What gaps exist? What challenges definitely require new assets, skill sets, training or support to be added into the mix?
Don’t make the mistake of assuming another church’s methods to accomplish their vision will help you accomplish yours. Starting with a clear understanding of your problems, strengths and needs helps you see which changes will best suit your church and chart a path forward to implement them.
Photo via Life of Pix