The Northwest Conference of The Evangelical Covenant Church

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A Role of Leadership: Addressing Change

Jon Kramka


In our Adventures In Leadership (AIL) camp for high school students, one of the inputs we provide the participants is an introduction to the Albin Institute's Eight Principles of Effective Leadership (see Diagram). As you look at this diagram you see that one of the eight functions identified in this model is the ability to address change with others.

It's been said, "Change is the only constant everyone agrees upon and the only one everyone resists". The reality is that every organization is being born, growing, maturing, declining or dying. It is in the midst of this stream, therefore, that Godly leadership confronts the realities of what is changing or needs to change, prays for wisdom and seeks to identify what is best for the long term health of the group or organization. In addition, leadership understands that change in organizations happens only to the extent that it happens in the lives of the individuals involved- first- in leadership and then in the rest of the group.

Gene Mims, in his article Leading Your Church Through Change, provides five considerations in leading our congregations through change.

1) Never avoid the inevitable. Do not refuse to believe what is really happening in your church. Every church is in transition. Change cannot be avoided, but it can be mismanaged. Confront the realities of what in your church is changing and what needs to change.

2) Assess your current situation by applying some important metrics to your church's effectiveness. Numbers are important, such as attendance, giving, expenses and growth rates over the last four years, but equally important is your church's "heart" in reference to Great Commission ministry. Do your people have a fervor for evangelizing the lost, for building believers and for mission? Do they love one another, and do they minister with joy in their community? Do you (and your staff) and your leaders have a passion at the present for God's work? Be honest with yourself and your people, and move toward the changes that must come.

3) Refocus on the kingdom and the Great Commission. Take time with your leaders to study scriptural teaching on the importance of the kingdom of God, the Great Commission and the functions of the church. Look for your present weaknesses and then for God-sent opportunities. This will make managing change much easier when everyone knows what is lacking and what is possible.

4) Ask God to reveal a future state. Determine what your congregation will be like in 5 to 10 years if you followed what God is showing you.

5) Return to the basics. One of the major reasons churches must undergo radical change is because they have moved from the basics—evangelizing lost people, discipling believers, and multiplying ministries by equipping laypeople to do the work of the church. Almost every positive change effort means a return to basics in some measure.

Mims concludes by saying:
"Change is a given, but good change is not. It takes time (a long time and lots of time), a firm commitment to do what is best, and prayer for God's wisdom."