Why Sr. Adults Should Lead the Charge in Church Change

Whether or not the stereotype is accurate, Sr. adults have gained a reputation for being the group of people in the church who are most opposed to change. I have seen plenty of exceptions to this, but in many cases, the stereotype has emerged for valid reasons. The truth is that rather than being the group who most opposes change, logic says that Sr. adults should be the group in the church who leads the charge in championing change. Here are 4 reasons why.

1- They should be the most spiritually mature.

Those who have been saved the longest should be the most spiritually mature. Those who are the most spiritually mature should be the most willing to overlook insignificant issues that don’t align with their personal preferences. To put it plainly, Sr. adults should be the most mature and, as a result, the most willing to welcome changes that may not align with their personal preferences, but help the church accomplish its God-given mission.

2- Many of them have seen family leave the church.

Why do younger people leave churches? While there are times this is caused by deeper spiritual issues, the truth is that this often happens because a church has turned its focus inward, refusing to reach people. Often these churches have become social clubs that highlight their own preferences rather than highlighting the need to reach others.

The sad reality is that many Sr. adults have seen members of their family leave the church for these very reasons. As a result, they should understand what is happening, and desire to refocus the church onto its mission. When they willingly do this, they will see less people leave.

3- They should best understand what is at stake.

Those who have been saved the longest should be the most focused on the gospel and understand what is at stake when people reject the gospel. Sr. adults should best understand that eternity hangs in the balance. That reality should drive Sr. adults to champion the cause of reaching people with the message of Christ — even if it involves making changes.

4- They should want to ensure the church’s mission is accomplished for years to come.

Many Sr. adults have spent years investing in their church. The truth is the church owes them deeply. These Sr. adults sacrificed for the church, served in the church, prayed for the church, and gave to the church.

Those who have invested so much should most want the ministry of the church to continue for years and years to come.

I am not talking about changing a doctrinal or biblical position. I am not talking about making changes that compromise the gospel. I am not talking about changes that are inconsistent with who God is or what God says in his word. I am talking about changes that further the mission of the church.

Sr. adults should be cheering on these changes, supporting these changes, and investing in these changes. They should be leading the charge for change so that they can see the mission accomplished.

10 Keys to Making Needed Changes in a Church

There are no perfect churches, which means there are needed changes in every church. How a pastor goes about making these changes will, in part, determine the future health and effectiveness of the church. Here are 10 keys that will help in making needed, God-honoring changes in a church.

1- Pray.

Ask God for wisdom and guidance. Ask God for patience as you lead. Ask God to help those in your church see the needs that exist. Ask God for unity. Thank God for the opportunity to serve his church.

2- View making needed changes as an aspect of discipleship.

 Some people don’t realize what changes are needed because they have not been taught. Perhaps they don’t understand the biblical purpose of a church. Perhaps they don’t really know how to measure health in a church.

When you view making changes as an aspect of discipleship you will be more willing to give people time to grow in their understanding of why the change is needed.

 3- Spend time with people.

 Spending time with people does two things. First, the more you spend time with people the more you will know and care about how change will affect them. Second, as you spend time with people they will get to know you and your heart for the ministry. Spending time with people will make you more caring and the congregation more trusting.

 4- Learn why things are the way they are.

 Someone once told me, “Never take down a fence until you know why it was put up.” There is great wisdom in this. Maybe something is how it is for a valid reason you have not thought about. Or maybe there is no valid reason. Either way you need to know the background.

 5- Know the vision of your church.

 Where is your church going? Changes that are not tied to a vision will frustrate people. If people in your church understand how the proposed changes will help them accomplish the vision for the church, they will be more likely to embrace it.

 6- Start with what you can.

Some things can be changed and no one will care. Start there. The effects of these seemingly small changes will begin to accumulate over time.

7- Continually get feedback from key people.

Every church as these key people who can either greatly help you as you lead or can severely hinder you. Helping these people see why change is needed will help your efforts.

8- Take advantage of key opportunities.

 Sometimes circumstances will open a door for a more significant change without the pastor having to initiate it. Let’s say a staff members leaves. You have been thinking about the need for staff restructuring, but have not wanted to push it too hard. Because of the circumstances that have presented themselves, you now have the opportunity to take a big step forward without it being perceived as something you forced to happen.

 9- Communicate the change clearly.

 I dealt with this in a PREVIOUS POST, but it cannot be overstated. Failing to communicate change clearly and deliberately will undermine everything else you have done to this point.

10- Move slowly but deliberately.

Haphazard changes will destroy trust. Moving too quickly will scare people. However, failing to move at all will frustrate and run off those who see the need for changes.

Move slowly, but move.

Change is never easy, but usually necessary. Following these 10 points will help you make the changes God is leading you to make.

6 Keys to Announcing Change to Your Congregation

Change is never easy, but it is often necessary. What is sometimes missed is that the success or failure of a change is directly tied to how it is communicated to the congregation by the church’s leadership. Here are 6 keys that will help you effectively announce change to your congregation.

Church Change

1- Own the Change.

If you are not 100% convinced that the change you are making is needed and the right thing to do, then perhaps you need to give it some more thought. Owning the change means that you are convinced of its necessity, are willing to spend time communicating it, are willing to invest time answering questions about it, and even willing to be questioned and criticized for it.

2- Have the Lead Pastor Personally Make the Initial Announcement.

This is not an ego thing, but if the change is affecting the entire church, they need to know that the Lead/Senior Pastor is behind it. Simply putting an announcement in the bulletin about a significant change does not send the right signals.

3- Acknowledge the Reality of the Listener’s Concerns.

There will be concerns – most of them you can anticipate. Let the church know that you are aware of those concerns and that you do not take those lightly. Be genuinely sympathetic with how the proposed change will affect those in church. By communicating that you are aware of the concerns, you are telling the church that you care about them and understand how this will affect them.

4- Tie the Change to a Mission-Driven Purpose.

Change for the sake of change is sure to ruffle feathers, but change for the sake of furthering your church’s missions has a much greater chance of being accepted (or at least tolerated). Clearly communicate how the change will enable your church to better do what God has called your church to do and more people will embrace it.

5- Make Yourself Available to Answer Questions.

There will be questions, and you need to be the one to answer them. Make yourself available. View the process of answering questions as a necessary step in the change process. Resist the temptation to view those who ask questions as opposing you. Assume they sincerely want to better understand what is happening.

6- Try to Over-Communicate.

You’ve made the announcement eight times, and you think that everyone knows about it and understands it. Guest what? You’re wrong. It is impossible to over communicate. Always assume that more announcements, information, and clarification are needed, because it is.

While you can’t make everyone like every change that is made, you can be wise in how you communicate that change, thus limiting confusion. Following these six suggestions will help you lead your church through the treacherous waters of change.

What would you add to this list? Please comment below?