Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Knowing When to Change

In Great by Choice, Jim Collins and Morten Hansen make this observation:

“Conventional wisdom says that change is hard.  But if change is so difficult, why do we see more evidence of radical change in the less successful comparison cases [in the research study]?  Because change is not the most difficult part.  Far more difficult than implementing change is figuring out what works, understanding why it works, grasping when to change, and knowing when not to.”

This is a significant finding and one that those of us in the church should reflect on!  We realize that change is necessary at times, especially if something is no longer effective.  Too often we spend time propping up things that no one really wants to support.  But if something is basically sound, productive, and has a committed core of support, we should not rush to change it.

A pastor friend once proposed that his church cease Sunday night services because only a few people showed up and the service required several hours of staff preparation each week.  He had a visit from a delegation of upset church members urging that the service continue.  He asked the group, “Will you come regularly if we continue this service?”  The consensus reply was, “We can’t make that kind of commitment.”  The pastor then asked, “Then why should we do this service?”  One person summed up the group’s attitude:”Well, we just want to know that it’s there if we decide to come.”

We don’t need to continue those things that have outlived their usefulness and in which people are no longer invested.  This is not a matter of numbers but of effectiveness.  There are things that are going well in our churches and some that would go even better if we tweaked them a bit.  Adjustments in time, leadership, format, or preparation could make a great difference. 

Perhaps the key question is, “Is this building up the kingdom of God?”  If the answer is “No,” it is time to change.  If the answer is “Yes,” let’s get on with it and do it well.

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