How can a young pastor know when to initiate new structural or institutional changes?
A young pastor should consider several matters when considering when to initiate new structural or institutional changes in his church:
- State of the church: Is the congregation new and growing or old and declining? In new and growing congregations, the people tend to be confident in what they’re doing, and they may not understand why you want to change things. An old and declining church, however, may require change more quickly since there’s a reason it’s old and declining. But make your intentions clear while you’re still candidating.
- Teaching/communication: Have the new ideas been taught? Several times? In several different forums (Sunday School, church newsletter, meetings, and so on)? Have the ideas been adequately communicated to everyone? Will anyone be caught off guard? Has everyone been given ample time to absorb the proposal?
- Level of support: Does the congregation appear to support the change? More to the point, does it appear that the congregation will follow the change without significant division? Even better, has the congregation begun asking for the change? Are they convinced that it’s wise? That it’s biblical?
- Other leaders: Do the other leaders support the change?
- Level of resistance: Have the changes been presented to those most likely to resist the changes? How strong is their resistance? Have the opposers been given the opportunity to make improvements to the possible change?
Finding the right time to make changes is something of an art—change often needs to happen not too fast and not too slow. Most young pastors need to be told to slow down. Then again, some need to be told to speed up!