When it comes time to remodel a house, the fun part is picking out the floor plan, the colors, window treatments, landscaping, and the like. What isn’t so fun, if one chooses to do the work oneself, is the prep work. If you are painting, it means scraping. If you are putting in sprinklers, it means digging trenches. If you are moving walls, it means sledgehammering and massive cleanup.
Yet, if you don’t do it, the remodeling isn’t possible. Without scraping and primer, the paint will come right off. Without digging the ditch, the sprinklers can’t be placed, and without quite a bit of demolition and cleanup, the structure is going to stay exactly as is.
In my own experience as both minister and consultant, a lack of preparation for changes we make self-sabotages those changes from conception. By “preparation,” I don’t mean teaching on the matter–though that can be fine. You can teach the congregation and leadership team until you’ve exhausted all language, and not be any closer to real preparation. When I say “preparation” I mean “healthifying” the emotional systems in which the change will take place. Without this, substantive remodeling of a church is nearly impossible.
For instance, many churches seek to hire good ministers, but pay little attention to whether their church is a habitat in which a called and gifted minister could and would serve at maximum capacity for the long haul. Other churches want to make changes to their worship styles but ignore the health of the leadership team that must not only embrace the change but have the pain-tolerance to see the change through. Other examples abound.
Before you paint…scrape and prime.
Before you hire…prepare the habitat.
Remodeling can be fun. But, the difference between a dream house and money pit–between a church God guides through metamorphisis and a church sidetracked by man-made dumpster fires is often…
Be still. Pray. Discern. Scrape. Prime.
And by all means…paint.
Question: In what ways have you seen churches fail to prepare or successfully prepare for change effectively–other than teaching?