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March 19, 2019

Three Ways People Respond to Change in Your Church

By Todd Adkins

When leading change in your church, you must communicate for buy-in. In this stage, leaders must be sure to leave no stone unturned and speak one-on-one or in small groups with as many people as possible in the church or organization. This communication should be clear, concise, and genuinely from the heart of the 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 you possible.

Napoleon said there were three distinct divisions in his army. I know what you’re thinking, Napoleon had more than three divisions … And he did. But Napoleon said that when it came to leading change, breaking camp, and moving on to take new ground, he had three distinct groups of people.

First were the people who are always ready for change. He was excited to have those people on board, and what he did was secure their commitment early on.

The next group is the “I’m never going to change” crowd. They’re the keepers of the status quo. Anytime you try to change and go a new direction, they have pitchforks and torches ready. They do not want to change. Unfortunately, this group is the one that we often focus on the most, spending all our time, effort, and energy.

Napoleon instead said to spend the most time with the people ready for change and establish wins early to bring over the remaining third who is waiting to see which group will win. This third group wants to see where the momentum is going, so as soon as you start telling stories from the group ready for change, you will begin bringing people back through from the status quo crowd. Focus on getting those early wins and gaining commitment by telling stories and casting the vision to keep everyone moving forward.

  • Identify staff members who are in each group.
  • Identify leaders and volunteers who are in each group.
  • How will you approach each groups differently?
  • How is leading your staff through change different than leading your volunteers and leaders through change?

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At this point, everyone must feel empowered to lead change. The problem is that the keepers of the status quo will always be with us and will start playing some strong defense. You have given your people a compelling vision, but now they have to be able to carry that ball down the field through any opposition.

Your job is not over. You now have to block and tackle. There will be barriers to implementing this change, and it require adjustments to ministry. You will be shocked to see how many people suddenly realize that to lead change means that they will have to change things in their ministry. That’s why gaining clarity and commitment early on is so important.

Adapted from Leading Change in Your Church. Download the FREE ebook here.



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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