But when is the right time?
1. As Soon as You See the Problem
The best time to fix a big problem is when it’s still a small one.
If the cabin owner had kept a regular roof maintenance schedule, no one would have lost a moment of sleep from a leaky roof.
Problems that get delayed don’t go away. They get worse. Then they become invisible to us. If the cabin owner’s friend lives there for too long without repairing the roof, he’ll stop hearing the drips, too.
Many church leaders can become like the cabin owner, if we’re not careful. Things get bad, then stay bad, so we get used to it and resign ourselves to living in a broken church because “it rains a lot here.”
The truth is, it rains a lot in every church. Let’s not get used to offering excuses, instead of working on solutions.
You can’t stop the rain, but you can fix the roof.
Churches with obvious, chronic dysfunctions can’t keep new people because they can’t stand the drip, drip, drip of unaddressed problems.
Long-time members don’t pitch in and help out because they’ve gotten used to it.
Sometimes, the person who sees the problems most readily is the guest. We need to resist the temptation to act like we know better because we’ve been around longer. Fresh eyes can bring a helpful perspective on problems we’ve gotten used to. A wise church leader will listen to new voices and fix leaks they didn’t know they had.
If you’re the new pastor with new eyes, fixing chronic problems requires wisdom. Fix the problems you can. But when you get resistance on other problems, don’t give up. Write them down, then wait for a better season to tackle them.
2. Immediately Following a Crisis
Right after a crisis, people are much more aware of the need for change. Like the first sunny morning following a storm.
As Winston Churchill famously said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”
I’ve also heard people say, “God never wastes a hurt.” Instead, he redeems them. If we let him.
Good leaders let the storm pass without causing further disruption in people’s lives. Then they seize the moment on the morning after the storm, so problems don’t repeat.