Carey Nieuwhof says that the most effective churches change constantly. He goes on to say there are certain signs of churches that are resistant to change. Here they are:
1. They keep having the same conversation over and over (and over) again. Talking about an issue—even talking passionately about an issue—and doing nothing about it is a complete waste of time. Awareness doesn’t solve problems. Discussion doesn’t solve problems. Insight doesn’t solve problems. Action does.
2. Every time someone raises a new idea, someone lists 3 reasons it won’t work. In 1876, cash-strapped Alexander Bell offered to sell his new invention, the telephone, to Western Union for $100,000. They rejected it. This was their report: “We do not see that this device will be ever capable of sending recognizable speech over a distance of several miles. The idea is idiotic on the face of it. Furthermore, why would any person want to use this ungainly and impractical device when he can send a messenger to the telegraph office and have a clear written message sent to any large city in the United States? This device is inherently of no use to us.”
3. Small things always become things. You never reach any big things because the small things always become big things. The debate on whether you should have carpet or hardwood lasted six months. And then they decided on carpet. Which itself then became the two-month discussion on what color the carpet should be. Which then became the four-month debate on who should install it. Break in one night and install it yourself!
4. “We’ve Never Done It That Way Before” has become a theme song. It’s easy to get smug and think “only super traditional churches fall into traps like this.” Successful, growing churches struggle with this tension too. You become so afraid of breaking what’s working that you resist change. The greatest enemy of your future success is your current success. When your church becomes about your personal preferences, you’ve lost the mission.
What to do? Start by personally owning your resistance to change. We all resist it, and our resistance might be born out of fear. Realize that change IS possible because not everyone is actually opposed to change. Don’t let the 10% of people who are opposed to change determine the future of the 90% who aren’t.