Why Some Changes In Your Church Are Unnecessary… and How to Avoid Them

Gabe Kolstad here – multi-time Advanced Coaching Alumni with Nelson and Senior Pastor of Westside Community Church in Beaverton, Oregon.

Today’s my final post in this series on change in the church, and I’ve had a blast thinking and dreaming with you about what God has in store for your future as a leader and for your church.

As we wrap up these thoughts I want to leave you with a few tips on the changes you DON’T need to make (even though it seems like you need to change everything!).

The average leader is thinking about what’s next.  The above average leader is thinking about what’s after what’s next.  And the skilled change leader is devising ways to skip what’s next and move on to what’s after what’s next.  Like playing the game “Leapfrog.”

The truth is, some changes aren’t necessarily bad, they’re just not necessary.  What if you could leapfrog some of the changes in your path and move 2 steps ahead in a single bound?

If you get a small cut on your arm, you’re probably going to reach into your cabinet and pull out a bandage.  You’ll put it on, wait it out, and then the day will come when you have to do the unthinkable: pull the bandage off of your hairy arm.  We’ve all been there.  And we know the right approach: just rip it off.  It’s faster and it really is less painful.

But what if you skipped over the entire bandage issue?  Did you know they now make a “liquid bandage” that you never have to remove?  You put a few drops on your cut and it just goes away after the wound is healed.  Brilliant.

What about your church?

How could you determine the changes you could just “leapfrog” to arrive at your ultimate desired destination?

Here are a few questions to help you think it through:

1. Is this change necessary?

Face it, every change is going to cost you some leadership points; spend them on purpose.

If you’re going to phase out a program in the next 6 months, it’s probably not necessary to make too many tweaks to it now.

Divert your attention to the stuff that will build momentum.

2. Is there a faster way? 

Like the bandage illustration, faster can be better (not always, but often).  Removing the number of steps involved in a change effort can exponentially reduce the cost in time, energy and money, saving those valuable resources for reaching and growing people.

3. Who is five steps ahead and how do they think?

Find a way to get around people who are doing what you’re dreaming about.  For them it’s not just theory – they have actual experience to share.  Ask them what they would do.

Above all, try to think like they think.  Look at your situation from their vantage point and steps will start to dissolve.  You may find out that your ladder is up against the wrong wall.

I’ve benefited so much from mentors like Nelson and others that have helped me grow in leadership & ministry.  They help me see that what seems like an obstacle to me is really a completely unnecessary step and I move past it gratefully.

If you’re looking for a connection like that, I can’t emphasize enough how much a coaching relationship will help.  Get in a network (check out one of Nelson’s) and start asking some good questions!  I promise you’ll get further faster.

It’s been a privilege to share the time with you over the past few weeks.  I believe that great things are ahead for you and your church!



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About Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is an experienced church growth strategist, pastor, church planter and coach, consulting with churches around the world. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has personally trained more than 3,500 church leaders in over 45 denominations through live events, seminars and monthly coaching. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in Boca Raton, FL. Nelson and his church routinely appear on lists such as “The 50 Most Influential Churches” and “The 25 Most Innovative Leaders.” He is the author of over 100 church growth resources and 18+ books, including The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life, Ministry and The Difference Maker: Using Your Everyday Life for Eternal Impact, and At the Cross with the People Who Were There. He and his wife, Kelley, have one son, Alexander.

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