Church Leadership
Bungee Cord Leadership: Leveraging Tension to Lead a Church Through Change
Tension doesn't have to stress us out. We can use it to our church’s advantage if we follow a few simple principles.
  • Admit your mistakes
  • Thank people – a LOT
  • Lead by example
  • Show them a better future
  • Give people time to understand the need for change – just like God gave you

What Will Weaken the Cord

Now, some common mistakes that will kill any hope for change and health:

  • Betray people’s trust
  • Ignore their feelings
  • Ask for too much, too soon
  • Complain when they can’t keep up
  • Demand change without explaining why
  • Keep changing your direction suddenly and without warning
  • Complain about the congregation without leading them to a better alternative
  • Gain a reputation for starting big, but finishing weak or not at all
  • Ask them to change for you, but refuse to change for them
  • Don’t change anything for a long time, then change a whole lot all at once

What Does the Right Amount of Tension Look Like?

The right amount of tension varies from church to church and from situation to situation.

Here’s one example that you can draw on.

If you’re in a traditional church and you want to introduce newer worship songs, don’t let months go by without introducing any new songs (not enough tension) and don’t do a whole set of new songs on one Sunday (too much tension).

Instead try this:

  • Play a mix of new songs as background music before and after the service for a few weeks
  • Introduce one of those songs in worship (It will feel familiar since they’ve heard it for a few weeks)
  • Sing it for two out of three Sundays
  • Add another new song from the background music mix two or three weeks later
  • Repeat for one year and you’ll have up to 20 new songs that won’t feel strange to people

That’s just the right amount of tension.

No, I’m not going to call it the Goldilocks method of leading. I’m sticking with bungee cord.

Support our work. Subscribe to CT and get one year free.

Join in the conversation about this post on Facebook.

Recent Posts

Read More from Karl

Follow Christianity Today

Free Newsletters

More Newsletters ...