Churches are no different from other organizations in that sometimes there simply needs to be a change. Whether it is a change in strategy, how work gets done, or church leadership the old saying is true – the only constant is that change is inevitable.

11 Ways to Successfully Bring Change to Your Church Without Destroying It

Churches reorganize internal structures and processes to better align with changing conditions and ministry demands or perhaps because of a crisis that affects the organization. To do this, step back and look at the organization from a strategic perspective then make a plan for realignment and adjustments. The goal is to get the organization closer to where it should be in terms of strategy, internal systems and enhanced customer (members, volunteers and employee) experience.

Some organizations succeed at change efforts and some fail miserably.  McKinsey Quarterly did a study that revealed that only 8% of executives polled, who had been through a redesign, said their change efforts added value, met business objectives and were completed on time.

However, most of the executives said successful redesigns took six months or less and were successful at changing the mindsets of employees to rally around the change – rather than resist it.
Organizational leaders explore reorganizations and change efforts when they feel the need to:

  • Respond to rapid growth of the organization
  • Reduce costs
  • Benchmark best practices
  • Change a static organization

There are different thoughts on timing of implementing change initiatives.  Should organizational change be gradual over time or should it be quick? When discussing this with leaders, I simply ask, “do you like to pull a band-aid off quickly or slowly?” There are definite advantages to both approaches, but making changes quickly allows the organization to get to where it wants to be faster and slower implementation prolongs what is often a painful process.

The secret to successful, rapid change is to focus on altering the mindset of those that the change affects. In the book  Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink, talks about the importance of influencing the employee’s motivation to change.

The premise being, that in order to successfully change an organization, the change needs to well up from within the ranks of the employees – and in the church this includes members and volunteers.  Figuring out what motivates people to change is key, and there needs to be targeted efforts to identify the heart of what motivates them.

11 Ways to Successfully Bring Change to Your Church Without Destroying It

1. Implementation tactics helped employees overcome distraction and demoralization.

Change is scary when it is not understand. Make every effort to ensure employees understand the what and why, so they are not preoccupied with mental “what ifs” of the change.

2. The change focused on the entire organization and not just one area.

Often we find a problem in one area and try to make a quick change there without taking into consideration the global impact. Look at the organization from 50,000 feet and strategically make changes across the board. And then address each individual area.

3. Detailed and targeted performance goals were established.

For successful change to occur there needs to be a target. Write measurable goals so you can assess whether the change had the intended result and impact on the organization. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

4. Sufficient systems, processes and resources were available to support the change.

Take the time to create the necessary systems and processes to ensure a smooth transition. Also, make sure any needed resources are available. For instance, if a new ministry is created in response to member needs, make sure there is adequate funding and staff and/or volunteer support.

5. The right leadership was in place to support the efforts.

Change efforts succeed or fail based on the effectiveness of the leadership. Identify someone who has the passion, motivation and talent to lead the change. Then let them run with it.

6. Fast implementation.

Implementing a change quickly can be a scary thing but the faster you can get through it the quicker the organization will get back in the rhythm of ministry.

7. Targeted and very specific strategies to change employee mindsets.

Change is scary to employees. Take the time to develop strategies that can affect the employee’s perception of the change. Helping them to understand the why, when and how will go a long way in engaging them in supporting the change.

8. A clear communication plan.

Organizations often drop the ball on communicating information that people need to help them understand. Take the time to think through the questions your members, volunteers or employees might have and answer questions before they are asked. This will take the unknown out of the equation and will help to control the rumor mill.

9. Support systems for the change.

Implementing any kind of change requires systems and processes. Make sure your change effort has the necessary support to ensure a smooth transition.

10. Employees clearly understood why they were being asked to change.

There is always a reason for prompting a change effort. Take the time to communicate to employees what is driving the need to change and how the outcome will improve how work is done, how strategy is implemented or how ministry is delivered.

11. Quick, decisive action was followed by employee support of the change.

When employees support the effort, things can be done quickly and successfully. Make a plan to get the employees engaged in the process and use their enthusiasm to ensure a smooth and successful change.

Churches can help employees and volunteers cope with organizational change by creating an organizational change strategy, developing a very clear communication plan that helps them understand why the change needs to take place, soliciting employee and volunteer involvement in organizational change, thoughtful timing and very defined procedures for implementing the change.
Poorly planned change efforts can affect employee engagement and ultimately worker productivity.

Taking the time to plan every specific detail of a change and developing a strong communication plan to help engage employees, members and volunteers in the process, is the best way to turn your church around quickly and successfully.

Has your organization been through a reorganization or redesign lately? How did it go?

About The Author

Patricia Lotich is the founder of Smart Church Management, a site devoted to providing free articles, tools and resources for those managing a church operation. Patricia has ten years of Business Administration and Church Operations experience and has a driving passion to help churches fulfill their call by managing the resources God has given them – people, time and money. Follow Patricia on Twitter and Facebook

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