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21 Signs Your Church Needs to Change

Change is one of the most controversial issues in almost any organization.

There’s something inside you and me that clings to the status quo, hoping it will work one more time, even if it hasn’t worked in a long time.

Sometimes the need for change is obvious. If nothing has changed since 1962, the case for change presents itself.

But often it’s more subtle than that.

As leaders, we spend a surprising amount of time trying to convince ourselves change is really that necessary.

We’ve seen how change has swallowed colleagues alive. We’ve watched great leaders suffer as they met all kinds of opposition. We sense the conflict pending in our own community.

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So we ignore the signs that would tell us change is needed.

So, how do you know your organization needs to change? How do you stay 100 percent honest as a leader and engage the difficult issues?

Answer: You constantly watch for the signs you need to change.

What are those signs? Well, there are plenty of them.

Change needs to happen on a macro-level, and it also needs to happen on a micro-level. Because the need for change almost inevitably means some level of conflict, it’s easy for a leader to move into denial—to pretend the status quo isn’t really that bad.

But great leaders don’t run when they see a need for change. They embrace it and demonstrate the courage needed to navigate the change required.

So how do you know if your church needs to change? At the macro- and micro-level, here are 21 signs your church needs to change:

1. Your stories are about what used to happen, not what’s going to happen. You need to change because your memories exceed your dreams.

2. You’re still growing, but any real innovation has stopped. Every season has a shelf life. Smart leaders prepare for the next season before the current one expires.

3. Your team is misaligned. This means you need to change your culture. Misaligned organizations will always struggle with organizational health and unity in purpose and mission.

4. Your growth is mostly transfer growth. You’re missing your mission. Enough said.

5. The number of baptisms has slowed. Signs like this are the canary in the coal mine.

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Speaker and podcaster Carey Nieuwhof is a former lawyer and founding pastor of Connexus Church, one of the largest and most influential churches in Canada. With over 6 million downloads, The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast features today's top leaders and cultural influencers. His most recent book is “Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences.” Carey and his wife, Toni, reside near Barrie, Ontario and have two children.