While the pastor will continue to focus energy on the congregation’s urgency for change (through sermons, private conversations, and modeling of that urgency), he must also build a team to help guide the change process. A change team should be engaged for any significant change initiative. This helps the people take ownership of the new direction, provides the pastor with the input he needs to address congregational concerns, and frankly, keeps the pastor from bearing the weight of the change’s impact alone. “Our” change journey always works better than “my” change journey.
When building such a team, elected leaders like deacons or elders should be included. But broadening the team to include a few others can be a great way of developing future leaders. When building a change team, look for…
- People who care
- People who listen
- People who dream
- People who think
- People who believe change is possible
Team members who are resistant to change or reluctant to work effectively with others are a major obstacle to the change process. If such people are elected leaders, they can’t be kept out of major change initiatives, but a wise pastor will make sure that such people are outnumbered on his team. Even the most difficult leader will be influenced by the positive energy of a team that dreams together. That leader may be influenced to join in the new direction or he may be led to recognize that he no longer fits and will slowly fade to the background. (In an upcoming blog, we’ll deal with the practical steps for handling resistant leaders.)
Remember that your team has a lot to offer. They may push you to believe beyond your current boundaries. They may bring ideas that are greater than any you had conceived. They will bring an energy you need, and they also bring the support you’ll be seeking as you prepare to move forward. For this and a host of other reasons we have previously discussed, the small church pastor should never engage significant change without a team.