By Carey Nieuwhof
If you are a leader, you will lead change. But the problem is that most people don’t seem to enjoy change. Let’s face it. We’ve all heard stories of churches that dissolve because of ineffective change. Change is difficult to lead.
The Importance of Change
The one constant thing in my 20 years of leadership has been change. When I started in ministry, I served small churches. I realized almost immediately that change was needed to impact our community and to grow. Over five years, we had to change everything. We changed governance, music style, dress code, meeting structure, and so on. After this time, the church looked completely different than when I first started.
The reality is that culture changes quickly. And if we don’t keep pace with these changes in our church, we run the risk of becoming irrelevant. Most people only change when the pain associated with the status quo is greater than the pain associated with change. For our churches, the stakes are high.
Four Types of People During Change
Fear of opposition is an obstacle during change. It was one of my fears as a leader. But what I’ve learned is that there are four types of people when it comes to change.
- Early adopters
- Early majority
- Quiet majority
To understand these types of people, let’s consider when a new smartphone releases. The early adopters will want it the first day. They’ll wait in line at 3am to get it. The early majority will wait it out. They’ll get the phone when it’s readily in stock or as a birthday present. The quiet majority are not opposed to new technology, but they won’t go out of their way to get it. And finally, the opponents don’t like technology, even a little bit.
Leaders fear the opponents in their churches.
Do the Math
Consider your church for a moment. What percentage is each group in your church? From my own leadership experience, I’ve found that usually 10% are early adopters, 30% are early majority, 50% are quiet majority, and 10% are opponents. Read that last part again: only 10% are opponents.
The problem for us as leaders is that we confuse loud with large. We confuse volume with velocity. Think about it for a moment. How many negative emails have you received? What about positive ones? If you’re like most leaders, you forget the many that are positive but the negative sticks with you for a long time.
So what percentage of your church will really stand in opposition to change? Do the math. My guess is the number is far less than you think.
Check out Carey’s exclusive Ministry Grid leadership courses here.