By Todd Adkins
As you introduce change and adapt your ministries, three groups of people are likely to emerge. Napoleon had this rule of thirds, and he 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 were the soldiers who were always ready to pick up, break camp, and move on to the next campaign. Napoleon always secured their commitment early on. These are the people in your church that are open to change. Some call them early adopters.
The next group he talked about was way on the other side. This group of soldiers wanted to stay right where they were. This group is made up of keepers of the status quo and they are not open to change. And any time you try to change something, they have their pitchforks and torches at the ready.
This leaves the soldiers in the middle. This middle group wanted to wait and see where the momentum was going. Then they would decide if they were onboard or not.
Now, this may not be broken down easily into thirds in your church. I’ve seen in many churches that there are a lot more people in the middle. And they can easily be swayed one way or the other, especially if there is a leadership vacuum in your church. Then, the person with the loudest voice, or the clearest vision, is ultimately the one who will win them over and win the day.
Unfortunately, church leaders tend to spend their most time, effort, and precious energy with the torches and pitchfork brigade, instead of doing what Napoleon said and spending the most time with the people who are positive and ready for change and to establish early wins. If we do that, if we establish those early wins we begin to bring over people, maybe even people from the status quo. Definitely we are bringing over the people who are waiting to see who will win. As soon as you start telling those stories, be ready for change. Be ready for people to move over. Focus on those early wins and gain commitment by telling stories over and over and over again. You’ll keep the vision moving forward in that manner.
So what’s the best way to communicate with these groups? Think in terms of: one to all, one to team or ministry area, and one to small. In the exercise after this session, you are going to contextualize the top three changes that you need to make in your church overall. Then contextualize that to the ministry area and contextualize that to the team or individuals that are there. You will have a separate sheet for each group, but you will use the same three changes on each sheet.
You want to identify who the key stakeholders are. What are you going to do to execute these changes or what strategic shifts are you going to make? Then you are simply going to be providing this greater contextualization into who, what, where, when, and how at each of those levels I mentioned before. It may seem like extra work, but processing that in these three levels now, will save you more time in the long run. Doing it on these three separate pages will ensure that everyone is on the same page later on, do to the ministry area, team, and individual. You may have noticed that the last column is blank here, but that’s intentional and will be addressed in our next session.
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