How does a pastor know when to make changes in his church?

wisdom-2Pastors who walk into existing churches are quickly burdened by needed changes to improve the church.  Where the challenge is for most of us is when and how those changes need to be brought.  If you are wondering how to choose those battles wisely, first receive this most excellent counsel I received as I entered my first Senior Pastor position at a church clearly needing change and revitalization:

 

“Preach the Word, sacrificially love those people, and do not change anything for a while.”

Now, having shared this invaluable counsel that should be applied first, here are 3 questions to ask yourself as you move to bring the change that is needed and how to do so with discernment and wisdom:

1) Is it biblical or preference? 

Whatever you wish to change, make sure you have a strong biblical argument to do so.  If you desire to change the structure of your church to a plurality of elders/pastors, or raise the commitment of all church members to gather regularly on Sundays together (Hebrews 10:25), those are appropriate biblical changes that should be pursued.  If you want to change which translation of the Bible to preach, the style of music, or remove the giant picture of a white, American, Jesus in your lobby, those do not possess as clear a biblical argument.  Whether it is biblical or a preference matters in how you bring change, and in many cases whether you should change it at all.

2) Is it the right time?

Just because a biblical argument can be made for the change, does not mean it is the right time to make the change.  So many young pastors walk into an existing church, make quick, needed changes because, “It’s in the Bible” and think nothing of shepherding a congregation through those changes.  Then they wonder why eighteen months into their pastorate, half the church remains and there is a general lack of trust and suspicion towards the pastor.  That’s because the new pastor was too busy figuring out what “had to change” instead of first loving and shepherding that congregation so they would later be receptive to the change.

3) Is it worth the possible consequences? 

Determine if the change can be taught as biblical, consider if the timing is right, then a pastor must weigh whether the consequences deem it wise and worth the risk.  For example, I would not split the church over a plurality of elders/pastors, or purging an inflated membership role in the first few years at a church.  Those are changes that can come later with good teaching and patience.  However, I would risk being fired over confronting a deacon found in open adultery, or an attack on the deity of Christ, whether the church was ready for it or not.  Choosing the right battles wisely involves whether you are willing to face the potential consequences of your decision as well as stand before God with a clear conscience.

This is a general template to follow as you determine the changes you desire to make and how they should be chosen and done.  Whatever you do, choose battles wisely as if you will be at that church ten years or more.  That will give you a different perspective and will help you be patient.

Oh, and one more thing.  If you are married, listen to you wife.  My wife kept me from getting fired a few times by her wise cautions about a few different things I was about to change.  Your wife is your helpmate and will be a particular help to keep you from doing something you might regret.  Listen to her.

Posted in Oversight of Souls, Training for Ministry
One comment on “How does a pastor know when to make changes in his church?
  1. Bud Brown says:

    Thanks for opening up a dialog on this issue. We have seen (in our work with churches and pastors) that most pastors are clueless in this area. The idea that things need to somehow change escapes them.

    Perhaps this is part of the reason why 85% of the churches in America are on plateau or in decline?

    Let me offer a few additional tells or markers which point to the need for change:

    1. The church isn’t praying for laborers, open doors, and for evangelistic success
    2. The annual number of visitors falls below the average Sunday attendance and the annual number of first-time professions of faith falls below 2.5% of the average Sunday attendance
    3. Ten people selected at random give different statements about the mission and vision
    4. Programs, events, and activities are designed for the needs, interests, and preferences of church members rather than potential new converts.
    5. The church leadership team (paid and unpaid) is demographically different than the gospel receptive groups the church has focused on reaching with the gospel
    6. The church has not identified said receptive groups
    7. The sermons don’t mention (in some way) the mission and vision every week
    8. The mission and vision don’t receive significant attention from the pulpit at least monthly
    9. There is no well defined process for nurturing spiritual maturity in church members
    10. The stories told, the values held, and the intentions pursued aren’t voiced in the language and vocabulary of the groups the church has focused on reaching with the gospel.

3 Pings/Trackbacks for "How does a pastor know when to make changes in his church?"
  1. […] Croft is Senior Pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. This article is from his blog, Practical Shepherding, and is used with […]

  2. […] Croft is Senior Pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. This article is from his blog, Practical Shepherding, and is used with […]

  3. […] How Does a Pastor Know When to Make Changes in His Church? (Brian Croft) “Pastors who walk into existing churches are quickly burdened by needed changes to improve the church. Where the challenge is for most of us is when and how those changes need to be brought.” […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Donate

Help send free Practical Shepherding resources to pastors around the world.

Categories
Facebook
Subscribe

Email:

RSS Feeds:

Advertisements