Someone once said that the only thing that never changes is change itself. It seems that everything is changing all the time. Just when you get into a routine, something changes that causes us to alter our plans and schedules. Change is inevitable. And the wise leader and manager anticipates change and adapts to it. Failure to adapt to change in our culture, our environment, or our ministries, will inevitably cause us to lose momentum. Staying the same while the world around us changes may give us peace and some level of comfort, but it will also leave us behind. Ministries that fail to seize the opportunities that change brings will soon become out of touch with the world and have little to offer it in the way of meaningful value.
Think about some of the changes our world has undergone recently. For example, as I travel the world, it seems that everyone has a cell phone today, even in the remotest parts of Africa! And many of those phones are smartphones, meaning that they also have access to the internet and social media, not to mention the functions of a camera and mp3 player. Communication has accelerated at a mind-blowing pace and the use of technology is an essential part of our world now and shows no signs of slowing down. Similarly, the internet has opened up communication and information to anyone, anywhere in the world, at any time. Everyone has access to real-time information, whether it is news, history, facts, books or people. We can shop online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Any question you can think of can usually be answered by a simple google search. And if you don’t know what that is, you are seriously out of touch with the world today. Transportation has also become more affordable and accessible, meaning that people can travel the world with relative ease.
So learning how to manage change is important because we must deal with it every day. As Christians, we need to know where God wants us to be. We need to seek God’s will to know if we are where we are supposed to be. Galatians 5:25 says, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Sometimes God brings change into our lives to lead us in a new direction that He wants for us. We also need to understand change so that our message of the gospel remains relevant to those we are trying to reach. So as the culture changes we must adapt. The Apostle Paul said it well when he said in 1 Corinthians 9:22 that “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” And change may also open up new opportunities for ministry, and we need to be able to seize them as they arise. And finally, change often helps us realize that some of our ministries are no longer effective and must be dropped or significantly revised.
1. Change is Inevitable. Nothing truly stays the same. And without change there is no future!
2. Change is Normal. Everything changes, including people, cultures and even the earth itself. God built change into all of His creation. And without change, there is no growth!
3. Embrace Change. Those who adapt to change prosper. Change will grow you.
4. Anticipate Change. Prepare for change so that you can adapt more readily.
5. Seek Change. Be thinking ahead. Do not be content with the way things are. Always be seeking to improve or get better.
6. Master Change. Become good at embracing, anticipating and seeking change. It will improve your flexibility as a church or ministry.
Well, here are some things to consider when faced with a change. First, identify what is changing. Is the change permanent or just a fad? Is it a structural or cultural shift? Is it a local or national/global change? Second, determine the impact of the change in your ministry. Is it important to the way you function? Does it impact the way you present the gospel? Is it important to people? Third, determine if you need to adapt. Will this change impact our ability to minister to others? Will it increase our effectiveness? Will it help us reach more people? Fourth, develop a plan to adapt to the change. Do you have time to analyze what to do? Is the change happening now or very soon? Do you have the resources to adapt? What might happen if you make the change? What happens if you do not adapt? Fifth, implement the change plan. Who will lead the change? How will we communicate the change? When is the best time to make the change? Sixth, review your results. How has the change affected our ministry? Have we seen any benefits from the change? Has it made us more responsive or effective?
We must not fear change nor ignore it. Change is part of life and the world in general. Only when we face it head on and determine how best to respond can we avoid being left behind or being left out.
So let us all pray that the Lord will open our eyes to the changes around us and give us the wisdom to discern if we must adapt to the changes, and if so, give us the courage and strength to change!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barry Voss