Yesterday, I started analysing how the leadership team in my church had recently led us through an enormous change. Here are the remaining steps I observed.
3) Give progress updates, reminding why we’re looking, that we’re looking and what the future will look like – pray for a solution [repeat as necessary]
We did not have this hammered into us, morning, noon and night, but nor was it allowed to drift off the radar. We were kept informed of the progress at regular intervals, but not so often that we got tired of hearing about it. Sometimes the update might just be ‘There’s nothing new to report’, but at least it kept it on our radar and kept us engaged with praying.
4) Inform of the agreed solution – praise for the solution
Once a solution was found, again, starting with the inner circle and working out, the news was released. We were encouraged to praise God – individually and corporately – for giving us the solution.
At first we were only told that a solution had been found, but for various reasons it was not revealed publicly what the solution was. The elders made themselves available to answer questions individually if anyone really wanted to know, but they couldn’t make it public.
As soon as it was possible to reveal the solution to the whole church, the elders did that, again leading us in praise to God for it.
5) Inform of progress towards the solution – praise for the solution
Of course, no big change happens immediately after it has been decided upon (apart from emergency changes, which are a slightly different case anyway), so to avoid the slump of feeling like the change was never going to arrive, and it losing its appeal, the elders kept us informed of progress and of the proposed move date.
6) Ask your people to step up to help with the transition and to embrace the solution – praise for the solution, pray for transition
Another example of getting everyone ‘on side’ by making them feel like they are part of the solution.
7) Sell a vision of the future – praise for the solution, pray for transition
Remind people of the good that’s to come, whenever the burden seems to be getting heavy.
8 ) Make the transition – praise for the solution, praise for the solution, praise for the solution
As well as praising God together for the solution, we were rewarded with cake and ice cream after the first service in the new venue!
Of course there have been hiccups, a new building presents new challenges, but by fostering a positive environment and a sense of pulling together, the leadership team made all of us part of the solution and gave us a sense of responsibility for how it went.
We’re about to go from one service to two, too, and I’ve noticed the church leaders following a similar pattern to the above for this change, overlapping with some of the steps above. I don’t know how much of this has been consciously done on their part, and how much is just the result of lots of practice and is now done almost on auto-pilot, but it went remarkably smoothly, and I’d recommend you trying it for any big change in your organisation, church or even family!