Leading Change
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How to Effectively Change Your Ministry Structure

Test the riskiest thing first.

I love leading change but altering a ministry structure scares me. Changing a ministry structure has the same affects as remodeling a home or building–there’s tons of mess for a long time. We made two risky changes at Chico State to our bible study structure that both resulted in positive increases in students retention. Both times someone on our team had seen this change happen at a previous ministry assignment, effectively testing the change for us and sharing the pros and cons.

Conferences, events, and retreats are great venues for testing your changes if you do not have the benefit of previous experience. Here are a couple principles that have emerged in the process of changing structures:

  • The needs of those to whom we were serving determined the change, not the desires or preferences of the leadership. The first change we made to our bible studies suited my preferences (co-ed, larger sized in place of single-sex, smaller sized) but I struggled with the second change (separating freshmen and sophomores into two studies instead of one). However it was beyond clear that the students desired this and was necessary for us to grow to the next level. Had I relied solely on my preferences I would have hindered movement growth.
  • Those that have not seen the change before will have a really hard time, don’t take it personally, and don’t allow it to stop you from leading that piece of change. I find that when new leaders cross my path they bring clarity and insight on many areas outside of my experience–if I’m able to receive their differences I find that God grows my leadership capacity significantly.
  • Don’t let the first conversation about changing your structure be the one where you make decisions. My experience shows it puts too much pressure on the leader and the team to diagnose, discuss, and decide on the appropriate changes.

Am I missing something? Please share your insights in the comments!

Image courtesy of minnesotaumc.org

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