Monday Morning Insights

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    Ever wonder why people react to change the way they do?  Seth Godin had a great, very short post today that helped me understand a little more about how and why people react to change.

    Rule #1:  People who think they will be hurt by a change will speak up immediately.  And loudly.  As Seth puts it... they will speak up regardless of the odds or the reality of whether or not they'll even get their way.

    Rule #2:  People who will benefit from any change won't believe it until it actually happens.  So their response?  They usually sit quietly.

    Notice that the people who should be excited about the change aren't usually vocally in favor of it.  Instead, they're skeptical.  They'll sit back and watch the leader to see if he/she can pull it off.  Then, if it goes well, they'll be supportive (even vocally).  By then, it's too late to have much impact on the change itself.

    What do you think?  Have you seen this play out in your church?

    Are the people most vocal against change the ones that think it will affect them?

    And are the people who support change usually the ones who keep quiet?

    Have you discovered any way to get people to vocally support change?

    Think about the last big change you made at your church.  How did it play out?  With your board/elders?  With the congregation?

    Take a couple minutes and share your last big change, and what you learned about people and their response to change.




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    1. Peter Hamm on Mon, October 25, 2010

      I’ll speak towards getting people to support change… It sounds manipulative, but in my experience it’s not…

      Have them drive it…

      Rather than tell your leaders “here’s what’s going to change”, bring them together and say “There’s a lot of great stuff going great (if there is)... but here’s what’s broken… how do we fix it.” ACTIVELY allow them to critique EVERYTHING about the area of ministry (except the mission, that doesn’t get touched), and ESPECIALLY to critique YOU as the LEADER. This has been really successful for me.

      The last time I had to do this, it created a little bit of tension (we had two special meetings with all my worship leaders), but the changes we made were GREAT… and everybody owned them!

      DId everybody come to the same conclusions and make the same changes as if I would have just unilaterally made them? Yup. To a T. Would they have “owned” the changes if I’d just spoken from the mountain? Heck no!

    2. Peter S. on Mon, October 25, 2010

      We’re going through a lot of change right now @ our church - it’s either change or close so we need to do something. However, I’ll admit to being one who is sitting by a little bit right now. I’ve heard the vision and what we want to value, but I want to know how exactly we plan to get there. There’s been a group of people meeting about this for months and all I hear is where we want to go - it sounds great, so no problems so far. I haven’t yet heard a “here’s how we want to do it” or even a “here’s where you can help”.

      I agree w/ Peter above - people need to own the change. I’m just one of the ones who is on the sidelines for whatever reason and our team working through all this just isn’t good at communication. I don’t think they’re trying to be secretive or exclusive, but they really don’t know how to communicate what they’re going through and what they want to do. That’s been an ongoing problem for a while and I’m hoping it’s one of the first things addressed so we don’t all operate in little silos.

    3. eb on Mon, October 25, 2010

      I like Peter Hamm’s above reply and I have seen that work more at our previous pastoral post. 

      At this church, Things have been a little different. It’s sort of an isolated location and had a series of short-term previous pastors (many stayed only a month), and pastor disasters.  We found the people very hungry for stable leadership, and they have so far been willing to to let my husband lead and make the decisions and changes.  Which his has done gently, but firmly.  We have definitely experienced the rule #2 notion.  We are going on our 3rd year here.  Since we have stayed longer than 98% of our predecessors, more and more the people have been willing to do more than sit. 

      The people that have been vocal about the changes, have voiced them, but then went right along with them.  As I said above, they seem ready and relieved to have some leadership.

    4. Peter Hamm on Mon, October 25, 2010


      The “time” issue can not be overstated.

      I have made far fewer changes in my 5.5 years as Worship Pastor at this church than many think I should have made in the first 6 months.

      If I had… I’d probably be employed somewhere else today.

      You need to build up trust and history before you can change a lot of things. Sounds like you’re working on that. Bravo!

    5. Christopher Fontenot on Mon, October 25, 2010

      Our church just began to elect elders as part of our church government.  Our pastor first introduced the idea Scripturally.  He presented the case for elders as well as the need and their responsibilities according to God’s Word.  As Baptists are usually resistant to change, it was voted on and overwhelmingly approved.

    6. Jan on Tue, November 02, 2010

      It’s been my experience that when people are quiet they are usually against it.

    7. Deb on Tue, November 02, 2010

      I relate with most everything that Peter S. said except that I have been part of the team “working through all this”.  We believe that knowing the vision and what we want to value is not the same as knowing “exactly how we plan to get there”.  I understand your frustration, Peter, with wanting to know the plan.  We have heard the same thing in the early stages.  One thing that we have said is that we are going to do some things to move in this direction and they might fail or succeed.  Either way, we are still moving in the direction of the vision and it will be a learning experience so we can adjust the course to “get there”.  God doesn’t always (if ever?) just lay out the plan from “A” to “Z”.  Rather, he tells us to move in this direction.  Communication is very important and hasn’t necessarily been our strong suit either.  It has seemed that we were getting more clarification and more “gelling” of the vision for a time before we actually began to communicate it well.  Now, after over a year, I think most everyone understands the vision whether or not they agree with it or want to go there.  Thanks so much for sharing…good to know that our experience hasn’t been unique.

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