At the next meeting, the longest-serving, most respected deacon spoke up.
“When you brought up a possible name change, I was opposed to it,” he said. (Uh-oh) "But when my wife and I were on vacation, she found a pamphlet with the names of some local churches. When she read the name of one church, I told her 'I don’t want to go there. It sounds dull and boring.'”
"My wife looked up from the pamphlet and said 'that’s the same name as our church.'"
“It hit me like a ton of bricks,” he admitted. “That’s how people see us. We need to change our name.”
If I’d asked for comments on the possible name change when I brought it up, his negative response would have been the first seed planted. And, like a weed, it would have grown and choked out any chance for change.
Instead, I gave him a month. And in that month, everything changed. Within a year we had a new name for our church. And we’ve made a lot more changes with the same process.
(No, I won’t tell you the old church name. Some of your churches still have it. It’s a name that works for a lot of churches. It had just reached the end of its usefulness for us.)
Take Your Time – And Give Some to Others
People need time to process big changes.
After all, I’d had months to ponder it before I’d brought it up to them, and I still wasn’t sure. How do we, as pastors, expect people to make the right choice in 20 minutes, when we’ve had weeks, months, sometimes years to consider the question ourselves?
Most churches are far better with change than we give them credit for. As long as the church is relatively healthy, that is. If the environment is not just broken, but toxic and dysfunctional, different rules apply.
But the leaders and members of a relatively healthy church want what every pastor wants. Necessary changes, properly understood, with enough time to think, pray, learn, discuss and implement them.
Yes, this process takes a little longer. But doing something slowly and right is always better than doing it fast and wrong.
Copyright © 2015 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.
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