The Greatest Challenge in the Church Today

Q. What is one of the largest challenges to effectively leading change in the church?

A. This is a no-brainer. There’s not even a close second.

Changing myself is by far the largest challenge I face! It’s the largest challenge most leaders face.

The person God calls to lead has the greatest ability to effectively move people through change or keep people from changing. As the old saying goes, everything rises and falls on leadership.

Of course, we leaders and pastors love to take credit when what we’re leading is “rising.” But we tend to blame other people or the circumstances when what we’re leading is “falling.” However, as leaders and pastors, we need to honestly and humbly own our part in both.

Here’s an important discovery I’ve made through the years: We can be called and gifted by God to be leading where we are, while at the same time failing to be the leader God desires us to be. 

Personal Change Required.

I think this can result from two specific failures. The first is a failure of character.

Sadly, many who have been called and gifted by God to lead have failed in their leadership because of a compromise of character. King Saul in the Old Testament is a great example. Sadly, we’ve seen this kind of failure too often in the lives of pastors and leaders in our world.

The second is a failure to change. Stagnating environments often stem from stagnating leaders.

As our world, culture, communities, circumstances, organizations and people change, we have a tendency to keep leading in the same way we’ve always led. This never works in a changing environment. What used to be positive, effective leadership becomes negative and ineffective.

One of the realities we must understand is that leading change demands personally changing. When God wanted to change something in the world, what was the first thing He did?

He changed the person He was calling to lead. This was true of Moses (Ex. 3), Isaiah (Isa. 6) and Paul (Acts 9).

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Brad Powell
Brad Powell is the senior pastor of NorthRidge Church in Plymouth, Mich., a 2011 Outreach 100 church (No. 47 Largest). He is the author of Change Your Church for Good (Nelson) and consults with church leaders to help them lead their churches through transition.

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