Six things to do when making changes to an existing ministry

Pastors of established churches often come in to said established churches with varying ideas, cultures, and agendas–ready to unleash these ‘incredible’ ideas on the church. Regardless of how needed or solid these ideas are, pastors of these churches should take a couple of breathes and consider these steps before making changes:

  1. Pray, seeking God’s wisdom. After all, it’s His church!
  2. Find out the history of the particular ministry. If that person who began that ministry is still in the church, talk to them and tell them your heart as their pastor. This goes a long way into them seeing that your thinking is not simply arbitrary, and you show them you care about them, not just your vision.
  3. See if the initial purpose of the ministry is being met either in that ministry or somewhere else. Every program or ministry has a shelf life. Many fall in love with the program for its own sake, even if that shelf life has expired. Talk with other key leaders to see if this ministry is being met elsewhere.
  4. If not, can we find ways to meet that need in another way or in another lane that refreshes this Great Commission purpose? If you have two missions programs or ministries, bring them under one umbrella. If you have Sunday School and small groups, find a way to marry them or to pour into one or the other.
  5. How do we communicate this lovingly and well? Teach about the purpose from Scripture. See, change is tough for established church members. Communicating lovingly and thoroughly is critical for the unity and harmony of the church. Not everyone may understand the need for the change, no matter how well the pastor or leaders communicate.
  6. Listen to the heart of the people. Many times, leaders only hear what their parishoners are saying, rather than what they are saying. The ‘thing’ that may be upsetting them may not be the main ‘thing.’ Established churches have history. And with that history comes fear, hurt, and every other kind of painful emotion because of the various ups and downs that happen. The longer the history, the more probability for hurt. Plus, every ‘thing’ that any pastor does looks similar to a hurtful ‘thing’ that happened in the past. Reminders are everywhere, good and bad. Listen to the heart of your people. Love them. Pray with and for them.
  7. Once change takes place, move forward, going at the speed of God. If the changes does take place, continue to look back at how this is in line with everything the church stands for in the Great Commission and Great Commandment, but look forward and move on to the next area and repeat these steps.

What steps have you taken that helps move change along in established churches?

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