I am an avid facebook user and like many others…I am grumbling about the new changes. One day…I click on my facebook link expecting to see what I am comfortable and familiar with. I expected to see the same messages, know where to click for my favorite links and interact with the many people I consider “friends.” But things have changed…wether I like it or not… I am left to figure out the new layout.
A post on facebook by my friend PC Walker got me thinking though. His post was, “It seems facebook is hearing the same ‘feedback’ pastors have been hearing for centuries: “stop changing stuff.”
I laughed as I read it. It’s so very true. In order for the church to grow and infect lives with the gospel message, it has to change. People are used to their seat in a service. They are used to the format of church and the path they have to connect with their “friends.”
With that in mind, I thought I might share my thoughts on how change can be brought on with effectiveness and health.
Preview, preview, preview. There was no preview given of the new FB home page before it went live…no real announcements and very little heads up. When Yahoo! changed its famous home page, I am pretty sure most people knew what to expect because they offered you a chance to preview the new page format a full two months before they changed it. When Google changed the format of it’s GMAIL, they allowed you to switch back to the old format if you needed….at least for awhile.
When we make changes in our discipleship patterns, church services and many other aspects of how people connect to information and others through the church, we must give them a preview. Give them a chance to understand why the change is important. Create a conversation with feedback that allows them to be a part of the change rather than exploding on them one weekend. Preach the change…talk about the changes and how they will make things better in the long run.
Never assume that you have all the answers. When Facebook changes it’s design and links without a preview, they are essentially saying that they have the process figured out and know that you will eventually see the light. There is an assumption that people will stay through the change and with new products like Google Buzz coming into the mix, assumptions are never safe because people always have a choice.
Now, I am not calling church a product…but people have a choice. In our consumerist culture, people will choose a church that suits them if they feel like they have no choices in their current place. As a worship leader or preacher or pastor…you have to understand this concept. Hopefully, through time…you have been able to connect and build trust with your congregation so that they understand the heart behind the changes you feel are needed.
I am not saying that you should cater and sacrifice your calling to the whims of the church. I am not saying that you need to create multiple types of services so that you can attract the largest crowd. But, if you forget that the changes you make as a pastor affect peoples lives…then you will be a leader with very few followers. Learn to create a conversation. Learn to continually provide vision. And learn from the mistakes of others.
Blessings friends. Jesse.