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Elements of a Change Strategy

Change just to change is bad, but change to make a difference for the cause of Christ is a very good thing. So, what’s the best way to bring change in your church? King David liked to mix things up and in doing so, created a strong kingdom in a united Israel. He was certainly not perfect, but there are two events in his life that we can learn from in our churches today.

            David & Goliath is a great change story. If I called it Attribution Theory, you’d probably tuned me out. Let me put it this way, Goliath’s death was attributed to the stone in David’s slingshot. Some people see an invitation to church and show up. Some church members hear an announcement about the budget on Sunday morning and begin tithing. Bringing change is sometimes as simple as punching through the clutter and getting a clear hearing from a person that is open to your cause.

But not everything is that easy. When David was made king, he wanted to take Jerusalem as his capital. Now, David couldn’t just walk up to the bolted city gate with a slingshot and take Jerusalem. He needed a strategy based on research that would exploit Jerusalem’s vulnerable points. In David’s case, he deployed his troops up through the cisterns with flowing water on the southside of town.

So, let’s talk how to change how your church evangelizes the lost. I’ve come to believe that we need to change how we communicate the Gospel, especially with young adults and teenagers. At the Midwest Leadership Summit in mid-January, Trevin Wax presented some research that really got to me. In short, Dr. Wax pointed out that non-Christians in our culture today are all about themselves. Those without a saving relationship with Jesus believe good and moral people go to heaven when they die. Lacking God as the center of their lives, they believe that looking within makes you “Supreme.” And that is a huge conflict with the Gospel. According to Wax, it is possible to sin against yourself by trusting something you can’t experience. This means trusting God is a “sin” against yourself. And yes, that’s a 180 degree perspective.

Churches must embrace differences that have crept so deeply into society that even words like sin have been redefined. Social changes and things like norms take awhile to change, but they do when people behind them are intentional.

Bringing change to your church is possible. Addressing the status quo is not easy. At some of the training events I lead, I have to make sure I have a Peacemaker brochure with me! Pastors are likely to encounter acceptance from some and resistance from others in his church. There are three groups likely in your church that handle change in different ways. This is a simplification of what is called the Diffusion of Innovations developed by Edward M. Rogers.

1.           Innovators will try almost anything. They usually have a bit more money and education. They typically don’t wield much authority in your congregation. Innovators can be flaky and be seen church hopping. Yet, it’s this group that tries new things, often with outstanding spiritual results.

2.          Watchers are aware of new things that Innovators will try. When these people give some kind of change a try, it is more likely to stick. The majority of your church fall into this category.

3.          Resistant people are often afraid to lose their authority if they adopted the new thing going into the church. They are often considered the pillars of a church. In most churches, these people outlast others that have long-left the church because changes didn’t happen. They usually control the communications channels and hire and fire the leaders.

Changing evangelistic methods still relies upon the Bible-based Gospel and just communicates it in different ways. So buck the status quo and give new consideration for innovators, watchers, and the resistant in your church. Together, they’ll make inroads into spiritual deviations in our world with the Good News of Jesus Christ! 

--Mark Snowden directs the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association

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