How (Not) to Initiate Change

I saw this sign at a restaurant and I just loved it.

Sometimes the best example is failure.  Nothing speaks louder than, “Well, that didn’t work!”

The same goes in life; we learn the most from our failures, as long as we are willing to re-visit them in a healthy frame of mind.

With those thoughts in mind, here are a few ways not to initiate change at your church.

1.  Sign your notes to the pastor, “Your thorn in the flesh.”  I kid you not.  I had one lady in the choir who would smile and give me “suggestions;” then she would sign the note just that way, as if criticism was a spiritual gift.

Why not send your pastor an encouraging note and thank them for what they are doing right?  If you have a concern, take him or her out to lunch and have a healthy conversation.

2.  Yell.  Loudly.  In.  Your.  Leader’s.  Face.  This happened to me once.  One of my older musicians got up in my face because I refused to allow them into a confidential meeting I was preparing to lead.  I am not a superhuman.  I left the meeting in the hands of my elder and went home crying.

The best way to get your leader’s ear is to speak more quietly and sparingly than anyone else.  Leaders become masters at tuning out noise because they deal with it all of the time.  I take notice of the people who listen well and then interject thoughtful comments.

3.  Pass around a letter to gather support for your cause while the pastor is away.  Several people used this ploy in different ways during my tenure at one church.  Nothing does more to support Satan’s work and spread division.  Unless you make the letter anonymous, which is like lobbing a grenade into an unsuspecting crowd.

In contrast, Matthew 18 gives us a model for resolving conflict.  First, go by yourself to the person with whom you have an issue.  Deal with it directly rather than mulling it over with a few sympathetic friends.  If you cannot resolve the issue, then go again and bring one or two godly friends (not bouncers!).  If that still does not work, involve the key church leaders.  Finally, the last resort is to involve the church body as a whole.

4.  Leave in the middle of a rehearsal or meeting because you do not like a decision or comment the leader made.  Instead of punishing the leader for their supposedly errant decision or comment, you are emphasizing your inflexibility, self-centered-ness, and resistance to constructive criticism.

Instead of leaving the scene of the conflict, walk through it together.  Even if you come out agreeing to disagree, you will come out unified and stronger.  Few things in life outside of a bathroom emergency require an immediate exit.

How have you successfully initiated change?

2 thoughts on “How (Not) to Initiate Change

  1. Points well spoken. One thing I’d said over the years though in grudging defense of some of the dysfunctional methods cited here is this…

    What happened IF someone gave honest input in a respectful manner?
    Was it listened to?
    Was the “suggestee” punished (directly or indirectly)?
    Was the input valid?
    If it wasn’t valid was the reason’s underneath at least respected?

    Was there actually a conversation?

    Has the leader directly and forcefully given permission for input to occur?

    Very often the answer to that question is NO. Meaningful input was squelched so the culture learns that the only method to give input is to “not give input”.

    Our sinful nature at that point kicks in and all the dysfunction you’ve mentioned starts to leak out all over the place.

    All your poiints are valid but the final question’s not been asked?

    Is the environment such that people CAN disagree safely?

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