You’ve heard it before – people don’t like change. I understand why. A few years ago Chick-Fil-A changed their chicken salad sandwich and I’m still not over it. Bonaire, Georgia looks a lot different today then it did when I was a boy. In some ways, that makes me sad. I’m a nostalgic person. I really do understand why people don’t like change.
But change is a necessity. Think about it. Imagine a world with no automobiles, with no antibiotics, with no internet. All of those things came about because someone challenged the status quo. So, if you want to move forward – if you want to grow – change is inevitable. In business, in life, and in the church – you must change if you want to move forward.
As a pastor, I’ve discovered a way to soften the blow of change. At least I think I have. Or maybe I hope I have. I’ve discovered that one reason people don’t like change so much is because they’re surprised by it. This led me to a pretty important discovery.
People like surprises even less than they like change.
That’s right. People don’t like change. But they really don’t like surprises. So, as a pastor, I’ve decided that when I’m leading the church through change, I’m going to do a couple of things that I hope will help.
1. I’m going to telegraph my movements. In other words, I don’t want to turn right when the church expects me to turn left. If I’m leading the church through a season of change, I’m going to telegraph it. Let me be specific. For small changes, I will usually give at least two months notice. For big changes, I may give a years notice. I know you think that’s a long time. But I would rather take the time to telegraph my movements then pay the price of leaving too many people behind.
2. I’m going to tell them what’s not changing. With every change you make there will be a group of people that feel like they’re losing something. Don’t just tell them what’s changing. Tell them what’s not changing as well. We make tweaks along the way. We change certain things when necessary. But there are many more things that stay the way they are. And for good reason. When I’m introducing change, I pray through it big time, try to give a clear rationale, lay out a plan, then remind the folks about those things that are constant.
I’m not saying that I’ve got this figured out – or that I’m even good at it. I’ve just learned that there’s actually something people like less than change. And when change is really necessary, I want to minimize the discomfort the best way I know how. So, I try not to surprise people with change. I try to be as predictable as possible when it comes to leading through change.