How to Overcome 3 Common Criticisms When Leading Your Church Through Change

There is no growth without change. And there is no change without loss. And there is no loss without pain. A church that wants to grow without going through growing pains is like a woman who says, “I want to have a baby but I don’t want to go through labor.” Is the pain worth it? Yes, it’s worth it. People need the Lord and as long as one person doesn’t know Christ we have to keep reaching out.

As your church begins to grow you’re going to face a lot of different criticisms. But there are three really common ones to prepare for:

1. The care issue.

As your church begins to grow, some of the people who have been around the longest will say, “Pastor, you don’t care about me anymore.” What this really translates as is, “You’re not available to me like you used to be when the church was little.” The truth is, they’re right. You aren’t. The solution to that is not that you double up and work harder.

The solution is small groups. You cannot personally care for everybody’s needs or the church will never grow beyond you. You have to teach people to have their pastoral care needs met in their small group. Growth means restructuring and every time you restructure you disappoint people and the older you get the less you like to do that.

2.  The control issue. 

When you grow, some people will begin to say things like, “I don’t feel as involved as I used to feel.” Growth upsets the balance of power between the pioneers and the homesteaders. When the scales tip you can expect criticism.

When the church first starts growing everybody goes, “Isn’t this great? Look at all these young people coming in. They can help pay the bills!” Once you have more newcomers than you have established members the question becomes, whose church is it? The answer is that it isn’t their church and it isn’t your church. It’s God’s church.

You can have some measure of growth and some measure of control, but you can’t have a lot of control and a lot of growth at the same time. You have to choose.

3.  The comfort issue.

You cannot grow without change and change is never comfortable. A lot of people want the church to grow as long as it doesn’t make them uncomfortable. But if the church is going to continue to grow, we must be willing to minister outside our comfort zone. I’ve seen people in our church who would start a ministry, grow it up, turn it over to a newcomer, then start up another new ministry, grow it up, and turn it over to a newcomer. The real issue is selfishness and it takes unselfish people to grow a church.

So when criticism comes as a result of growth, change, and loss, how does a wise Pastor navigate the relationships that exist in the church? Here are three things you need to do that aren’t easy, but they are often necessary.

1.  Be willing to let people leave the church

People are going to leave your church no matter what you do. But when you define the vision, you’re choosing who’s going to leave – those who are supportive of the vision or those who aren’t. You cannot surrender the leadership of your church to manipulators. Jesus invested the maximum time with those who would bear the maximum responsibility.

2.  Continually remind people why you’re making these changes.

Why are we doing all this? There is only one reason – people need the Lord. We’re making these changes to reach one more person for Jesus.

3.  Affirm and appreciate people for the changes they do agree to make.

Be grateful for minor changes. Focus on progress not perfection. Change is hard, and God uses change to grow people. So affirm growing people who have chosen to embrace change for the sake of the kingdom.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
comment_post_ID); ?> "While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 

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