Challenging the Status Quo: How Churches Can Inspire Deep Change

Church Revitalization Podcast – Episode 86

By definition, the status quo is the current state of affairs.  You may consider it a snapshot in time.  For some churches though, a snapshot taken today would look the same as a snapshot taken five years ago, or maybe thirty years ago.  It represents being stuck, maybe by tradition, maybe out of habit, maybe out of comfort.  Regardless of cause, a lack of forward progress in making and maturing disciples of Jesus leaves churches in an unhealthy state.

Choosing not to change does not equate to staying the same.  Things are always changing whether we want them to or not, or whether we choose to direct the change or not.  Positive change in the church is change that is biblical, intentional, strategic, and measurable.

If your church is ready to challenge the status quo, here are five things to inspire deep change.

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Define a Mutually Desirable Outcome of Change in the Church

Mutually. Desirable. Everyone (or most) would have to agree on something that could be better than what they see now.  This is where biblical mission and vision set the tone for the future of the church.  The Great Commission mandates that we make and mature disciples of Jesus.  If that’s our mission, then our vision for the future of our church, our city and our world must paint an exciting picture of the results of us being on mission.  It should be desirable, and most should agree it’s the right thing to do.  Establishing this central work and rallying the church towards it the first step in leading out of the status quo and towards a better tomorrow.

Quantify the Cost of Not Changing Your Church

There’s a price for every decision we make.  Choosing not to change to better be on mission for Christ has eternal consequences for untold numbers of people that you will never know.  What else might you lose for not changing?  A declining church also has declining finances, so eventually, it results in less ministry altogether.

Make note that this is second on our list for a reason.  Always lead from the perspective of vision.  Show people a better tomorrow that they will want to participate in accomplishing before you show them what’s wrong with where they are today.

Have a Bias for Participation Over Discussion

There is a prerequisite to this point that must be in place – know your people.  If you know your people, the challenges in their lives, their passions for ministry, the reasons for their comfort in the status quo, then you can speak to those concerns when talking about change.

The default starting point for most churches is discussion.  Town hall meetings.  It takes a lot of time, and usually does not result in constructive dialogue.  Instead, if you can address concerns on the front end, move through the decision process and then engage people in participating in the change as it rolls out, you’ll increase unity in the church as change occurs.

Invest Minimal Attention in Bad-Faith Detractors

Don’t reward bad behavior.  There are people who will resist change, but are open to conversation, and there are people who resist change and just want to throw bombs into the process. Nurture the former, but Invest minimal time in the latter.  In most cases it’s a losing battle dealing with bad-faith detractors, and your time is precious when leading through change.  Spend it where positive ministry fruit can be cultivated.

I’ve experienced both types of people on Strategic Leadership Teams.  Good-faith participants who resist change, but are open to mature discussions and learning fresh biblical perspectives for change can become great supporters of initiatives.  Bad-faith participants on teams never change, and only delay good action.

Draw Maximum Attention to Progress—Even if it’s Small

This is a simple yet powerful point.  Find an extra minute or two in your Sunday service schedule to have different people speak about positive changes and vision progress.  I don’t mean have Pastor Mark say something instead of Pastor John.  I mean have someone that never gets up in front of the congregation tell everyone what they are excited about. Look for other opportunities to do the same thing.

“…darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Genesis 1:2

Do it.  Break out of the status quo and unleash the potential that God has for you to change the world.

A.J. Mathieu is the President of the Malphurs Group. He is passionate about helping churches thrive. A.J. lives in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex, enjoys the outdoors, and loves spending time with his wife and two sons. Click here to email A.J.

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