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3 Groups of People in Your Church When It Comes to Change

By Todd Adkins

As you introduce change and adapt ministries, three groups of people will likely emerge. 

Napoleon said there were three distinct divisions in his army when it came to leading change, breaking camp, and moving on to take new ground. 

First were the people who were always ready for change. These soldiers were ready to pick up and move on to the next campaign. Napoleon secured their commitment early on. These are the people in your church that are always open to change. Sometimes we call them the early adopters.

The next group was the soldiers who wanted to stay right where they were. “France looks great!” This group is made up of the keepers of the status quo. They are not open to change, and anytime you try to change, they have pitchforks and torches ready. 

That leaves all the soldiers in the middle who waited to see where the momentum was going. This may not be broken down into exact thirds in your church, as I have seen many churches with a  “middle majority.” They can be easily swayed. If there is a leadership vacuum, the person with the loudest voice or clearest vision will win them over and win the day. 

Unfortunately, church leaders tend to spend the most time, effort, and energy with the pitchfork and torches brigade.

Instead, Napoleon spent the most time with people ready for change to establish early wins and bring over the remaining third, who were just waiting to see which group would win. As soon as you start telling stories from the group ready for change, you will begin bringing people back over from the status quo crowd. Focus on early wins and gaining commitment by continually casting vision and telling stories to keep everyone moving forward. 

How to Communicate Change

So how do you communicate with people in your church as you move forward in leading change? 

Leaders must be sure to leave no stone unturned and speak one-on-one or in groups with as many people as possible in the church. Communication should be clear, concise, and genuinely from the heart of leaders. People are carriers of the vision, not paper. A pamphlet can be a good tool, but vision can be multiplied in the hands of a person who is committed to it and compelled to share it. If you want this vision to go viral in your church, you need as many carriers as possible.

Think in terms of one to church, one to ministry area, and one to team.  One to church communication is casting vision up front. One to ministry area is contextualizing the vision to that group. And finally one to teams this to a ministry team or even an individual, helping them to personalize their part of this change.

To help you lead change in your church or ministry, our team has created a FREE course on Leading Rapid Change: 7 Steps to Agile Leadership in your church. Click here to get started.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Todd Adkins

Todd Adkins (@ToddAdkins) is the Director of Leadership at LifeWay. Prior to LifeWay, Todd served as an executive pastor at McLean Bible Church. He has a background in launching strategic initiatives and scalable campus models to provide immediate growth while remaining financially solvent. During his time at LifeWay, Todd has introduced customizable, web-based leadership development through MinistryGrid.com. He is passionate about helping churches build a Leadership Pipeline and develop Training Pathways for every role in the church.

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