Friday, October 14, 2005

Initiating Change…

Change is a difficult thing! Having worked in a mainline denomination that is known to be change resistance I have come to realize that there are some key steps to initiating change that must be followed to insure acceptance. Now change is always hard and some people will never accept that change is needed but as we seek to reach more and different people for Christ we must change our methods while still clinging to the foundations of our faith.

Here is my plan for initiating change:

o Define core audience that provide financial viability

Somebody once said that a leader is two steps ahead of his followers and a prophet is ten steps ahead, and they stone prophets. In business, and even more importantly in ministry, you have to know who you have! You have to understand the context from which your ministry is grounded. Take some time and define who it is that provides the core of your existing ministry. Understand the locus of your center. This will allow for you to take the next step…

o Define target audience that will take you into the future

Once you know where you are you can define where you are going. A map is a wasted piece of paper until you know your current location. Then you can define destination. Step two involves defining target audience. The word “target” makes some church folks uncomfortable, but that is usually because they don’t want to admit that if you aim at nothing you will hit it every time. Define who it is that God is calling you to reach. Be specific. Write a description of the people that God is uniquely putting in your path to share the message of hope with. Once you have a clear picture, begin making friends with these people. Hang out where they hang out, move them in your understanding from abstract to actual, then you are ready for step three…

o Help core understand target

This is tough. Finding a way to communicate missional objectives to those who aren’t concerned with actual mission may be one of the toughest jobs in ministry. I have found that helping them understand the ministry target in terms of their family is most effective. Ask about their children or grandchildren (even better!) who don’t share their faith. Help them put a face on the people your church is uniquely positioned to reach. Again, moving them from abstract understanding to actual relationship is essential. Then…

o Interpret, interpret, interpret…

Every opportunity that arises, interpret the target to the core. Use pictures, stories, portraits of faith, [1] and anything else that helps core become burdened to reach the target. Once you begin intentionally seeking these opportunities they will become abundant!

o Initiate change

The key concept in initiating change is that my idea may be good, but your idea is better, at least in your eyes. Now, more than ever, it is time to get out of the way and let God work. As you begin to open up conversations about how to reach this new segment of people God is calling you to, if you have done your work, the core will have far more ideas, some more radical than you ever imagined, to implement. Resistance will be lessened (it is never gone completely) and by making it their idea, acceptance is increased. Change becomes the natural result of their burden to reach others.

Most of these lessons have been learned the hard way. Thankfully, God’s love abounds and I remain:

Lost in Grace,

Marty


[1] A portrait of faith is a three to five minute testimony where somebody tells what God is doing in their lives right now. Not a recounting of their faith story, but a place where they are meeting God today. Brevity and intensity are the key concepts in a portrait of faith.

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