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“From 'Yikes!' to 'Yay!' - Part Two”
by Tom Goodman
September 1, 2005

Can churches go from “Yikes!” to “Yay!” when it comes to change?  As a Hillcrest leader, you need to understand five reasons why churches resist changes more than any other organization and five reasons why churches can make changes better than any other organization.  Last week we looked at the resistance to change.  In this edition of LeaderLines, we’ll look at the marvelous capacity to change.

Compare a church to any other organization—business, government, military, non-profits, academic institutions—whatever organization you name, none of them have the resources to deal with change that a church has.  Five realities make the church better suited to deal with change than any other organization.

First, we experience the Holy Spirit.  God’s Spirit leads his people into new territories.  God’s Spirit unifies his people, even as they make potentially divisive changes.  God’s Spirit gives his people courage.  So, as leaders, we must make sure our people are focused on the resources of the Spirit.  All sorts of selfish, carnal reactions take place when we do things in the flesh and not in the Spirit, but a church yielded to the Spirit can be changed by the Spirit.

Second, we tend to have low overhead.  Many organizations go out of business because of insufficient capital necessary to make the changes in order to keep up.  When you have to shut down factories, retool, and consume huge amounts of your assets in implementing the improvements, you have to think hard about making such changes.  While churches have fewer financial resources than many corporations, our work force is primarily unpaid volunteers.  Because our assets are primarily people—as opposed to facilities, machinery, and products—we can be more flexible to respond to needed improvements.

Third, family sticks together.  The view of employees today is that they’re a type of paid customer.  Organizations have to work at keeping quality people, who are more apt to jump from job to job if the paycheck increases.  Perks, benefits, and opportunities are now regular parts of employee considerations in addition to salary.  When you have talent and the economy is good there’s often little keeping you in an organization when something better comes along.  The good side of church life is that family and friends can keep us committed even when change issues might tempt us to bail.  Overall, people are more apt to stick through a time of transition when they have emotional ties.  Our kids have friends.  Our wedding pictures were taken in the chapel.  Our Sunday School friends have walked through life with us.  Because of these benefits, people in churches are more apt to wait out the stress of transitions than are corporate employees and customers.

Fourth, faith is in our genes.  The Bible has plenty of stories of change that required faith.  When you take a biblical approach to life, you tend to see problems as giants that need to be killed and mountains that need to be moved.  Faith is a part of our Christian heritage.  God’s church has persevered throughout history, sometimes in spite of ourselves.  When we focus on this intangible force that keeps us in tune with a faithful God, it improves the odds that we can make it through yet one more time of transition.  Stories and testimonies abound where people trusted God during the tough times, only to see his hand of provision.  We can do it again. God’s still with us.  This kind of faith holds us together in our cause.

Fifth, we have a higher calling.  When we understand that the Christian life isn’t about what we want but what God wants, we can persevere through many difficult moments.  Every transition phase toward improvement and more effectiveness is an opportunity to deepen our faith.  Leaving behind our Egypts in order to settle new Promised Lands is a calling of God who’s saying, “Trust me.”  Obedience amid fears has never been easy.  But the fact that we recognize a higher calling and are willing to trust God makes effective transition a greater possibility.  Keeping our focus on the bigger picture is why we’re in business.

Let’s be sensitive to the reasons churches resist change, which we looked at last week.  But let’s also rejoice that our church has the resources to deal with change better than any other organization, too!


The outline for this week’s and last week’s newsletters came from Alan Nelson, a consultant to churches in transition.  His complete article can be found at www.thewychefamily.com/beliefs/house.html.

The Leadership Summit is coming!  Mark your calendars for the Leadership Summit on Saturday, September 24.  This will be a time of inspiration and important information for anyone who has a role at Hillcrest.  If you serve at Hillcrest in any capacity, you’ll benefit from this Summit.  With our gym floor being repaired, we may not be able to meet at the church.  We’ll let you know the time and location for the Summit as soon as we can.

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