by Joe McAlpine
Have you ever walked through the halls of a church and felt like you were walking through different decades as you pass from one addition to another? I have. Many times I find myself getting stressed out as I exit one area that is seemingly traditional and enter a new area that is contemporary. What is the vision? Why didn’t the whole church change? Why did they just leave the old and add something new? Why didn’t they transition and change the entire thing instead of just leaving the old. It usually doesn’t take long for me to find out that there might have been a revolt if the church didn’t leave pieces of the past that different members weren’t willing to let go of. The past is a good thing to respect but change isn’t a four-letter word either. Why do so many people resist it?
I’ve been speaking, consulting, and writing about change for the past 15 years. Probably one of the biggest areas that I have helped leaders in over the years is communicating through change. Communicating change, whether it is big or small is a 360-degree approach. You must not only communicate to your team but also to your leadership. It is no secret that many people resist or even fear change. I don’t think it is because people don’t want to change. I think they are honestly afraid of losing their way.
The people on your team WILL lose their way if you don’t communicate well while you are navigating change in your area of leadership. Their success is ultimately your responsibility.
There are a lot of questions that rise up in team members when it comes to change. It is your job as the leader to answer them as clearly as possible and repeat them often.
Some of the questions team members may be asking are:
- From what to what? Where are we now? Where are we going? Why do we need to go there? This is an important time to cast vision. God is in the business of growing things. If you show me a leader without a vision I will show you a leader who isn’t connected to God’s purpose for his or her area of leadership.
- What does this change mean for what I do and how I operate on a daily basis? In short, how does it affect me? What does success look like for my area of oversight now? People join your team with the intention of doing a good job. If there is change then you MUST communicate what success now looks like.
- Will this make a difference? Is there a good reason for this change? Are you preparing for growth, a new facility, or something else that drives the vision forward? Some leaders like to change things just because they get bored. That isn’t a good reason. Show your team why the change is important.
- How will success be measured? If you can’t measure success, how will you know that there has been a return on the effort? Are we expecting a growth in attendance? Maybe we are looking to see kids memorize more Scripture. No matter what it is, let the team know what exactly you are looking for.
- What is the support level for this change? Whose idea is this? Are you and your pastor aligned in this change process? Are there other team members that are on board? The more people that have bought in to the need for change the more comfortable your team will be in embracing it.
The key here is to always communicate through vision. The Word says that where there is no vision the people perish. That implies that where there IS vision the people will flourish. Anytime you navigate change without communicating from a place of vision and inspiration you are running a huge risk of loss and frustration inside your team. When you communicate change through casting vision you allow your team the opportunity to take ownership of the trajectory of their areas. When a team member is connected to the vision there is almost no chance that the change will be resisted. Be patient, be thorough and think it through. That is how healthy change is navigated.
What do you think about communicating through change? We would love to hear your thoughts!
Joe McAlpine has been in ministry for over a decade, serving in staff leadership at churches ranging in attendance from 500 to 7,000. In 2015, Joe joined the team at Slingshot Group and works toward helping great churches connect with great teams. Joe has been happily married to his wife Christy for longer than he can remember and has four children, Elijah, Selah, David, and Elisabeth. In his spare time, you can find him hanging with the family and playing his ukulele.