Being an Agent of Change
As a result of doing the Children Everywhere Challenge, a conversation with a friend from another church, reading a book that revolutionises your thinking or being challenged afresh from some passages/texts from the Bible, you may be stirred about one or two changes needed in how your church approaches ministry with and for children and their families. It’s one thing to be stirred. It’s quite another thing to bring about change.
Top 10 Tips for Change
The following steps may help to bring about this desired process of change.
1 Pray about it
Pray about whether or not you should propose change. Pray for wisdom, the right attitude, love, a gentle spirit, courage, God’s timing and for people to share this journey with you. Without this platform of prayer, one can easily become too strident in a desire for change which will work against desired outcomes. Continue to be in prayer during each of the steps that follow.
2 Do your homework
Check the facts of the current situation. Keep notes and records. For example, if you want to build more of a sense of belonging with your children in the Sunday service take note of the signs each week that show that your children are part of the church family…and the signs that show that they may feel disconnected. Ask the children for their suggestions for what would help them feel like they belong.
3 Involve others
Begin to talk with individuals about the direction you feel change should go. To begin on an individual basis is a good idea, because:
a) you gain practice at saying your vision
b) you can also correct what people don’t understand or misunderstand
c) you give people a chance to think about the issue at their own pace
d) to start at a public meeting will almost certainly mean confrontation
4 Identify the opinion leaders
It is a fact of organisational life that some people wield more influence than others. Make a personal appointment with the opinion leaders and share your ideas with them. This is another good idea, for the same reason as in 3 above. The influence they will have at any decision making meeting is probably critical to the success of your idea.
Although we have suggested that you share your vision personally, always try to keep the focus on the issues not the personalities involved. Be especially sensitive to those who are committed to the old ways you are trying to change. No one enjoys losing face in public. Pray that you may actually gain the help of those very people in the process of change.
5 Be willing to change yourself
As you talk with people you will probably modify some of your ideas. That’s fine. An agent of change with a closed mind is a sad sight! We have no right to subject others to a process to which we are not willing to submit ourselves.
6 Work towards others owning the goal
The others involved need to believe the needed change is a good goal because “it is our goal”.
7 Take your time
It is better to achieve change over a longer period than to rush into it. If people are hurried about change, they often automatically resist, just to survive. Keep your dreams big but your aim low.
8 Find an entry point
As you talk together, look for the entry point for the first step on your journey towards this change. A journey of 1000 km begins with one step! For example, decide on one small change to the morning service that would acknowledge and involve children. This might simply be having a family with children on the door as a welcome team. Further steps will evolve from this starting point.
9 Break it down into steps
Don’t try to achieve everything at once. If it becomes “all or nothing” it’s a 50% chance you’ll achieve nothing. Think about the steps towards your big goal, then work at the ones that matter most. If you have a number of steps, you can fail in some without losing everything.
10 Build in success
Nothing succeeds like success. So make your first recommendation one which you have come to know will achieve something obvious, and something a number of people want to happen. Take the easy steps first. Let people enjoy achieving together.
There are three ways to bring about change:
Revolution: Doing away with the old and complete rebuilding.
Reformation: Implies something is wrong with the existing order and what has been done in the past is wrong.
Innovation: Copes with the future, which will be different, by drawing on the best of the past and finding new ways to achieve worthy goals.