In order to lead a team of staff and volunteers in the church, you must have an understanding of change and what causes people to buck when you’re initiating it. Something that has often confused me is how a person may rave about the changes they see elsewhere, but speak loud and boldly of their disapproval of the changes that are happening under their noses. People get comfortable. They feel safe. And change messes with both of those.
No matter what the change is that you are proposing, you need to understand that there are going to be people who voice their disapproval. You’re thinking, “This is a great idea! Why would anyone resist this?” Before you get too confident, let’s look at some reasons that you’re going to deal with opposition.
1. Some people are downright content to be where they are, doing what they’re doing … no matter what it is. Before you cause a confrontation, go to this person and ease them into the change. Offer them tiny changes to move them step-by-step into a more substantial one.
2. They distrust leadership. As much as we hate to admit it, past staff may have been responsible for creating an atmosphere in the church where leadership is distrusted. Figure out the cause of their distrust, through one-on-one conversations with them. Then, set out to prove yourself different. One of the keys here is to approach the change with great intentionality and don’t catch this person off guard. Even if it seems to be none of their business, until they trust you, make an effort to let them know what’s coming up. You don’t want to fuel their already flaming fire.
3. Some people feel their input doesn’t matter. Bring people along with you when you’re making a change. Include them in the discussion. Encourage input, but what’s even more important is that you use that input in some way. Even if it’s not a very good idea, find a way to use part of it so this person can feel safe to offer more (and better) ideas.
4. Some people resist because they lack the vision. They just don’t see it. It seems as plan as day to you, but they’re not getting it. Cast the vision in lots of different ways, and always highlight the benefits of how more kids will come to know the Lord because of it. Find ways to open their eyes.
5. Then, there are those people who resist change because they have a negative nature. Jesus could recommend the change and they still wouldn’t be happy. Keep any negative comments you may have, or doubts about what you’re doing, to yourself. Never, never, never share them in this person’s presence. Always say something positive even in the midst of their negativity. In rare instances, this person can have a change of heart about the change, but more than likely they will be an “irregular person” you just have to live with.
No matter what the cause of resistance is, the best way to combat it is through clear communication and an excitement for what will be. Don’t let these nay-sayers cause you to cower or give up.