Home Pastors Articles for Pastors How Long Will It Take for My Church to Really, Actually Change?

How Long Will It Take for My Church to Really, Actually Change?

One of the most common questions I hear from church leaders is, “How long will it take my church to permanently change?”

It’s such a great question because change sometimes feels, well, impossible.

You hear a constant stream of complaints

You’ve run into too many people who like things the way they are now (or the way they were a long time ago).

You’ve got too many friends who got hurt badly trying to lead change.

The committees keep meeting and they keep stalling.

You’re starting to feel like Moses in the desert with no Promised Land in sight.

I get that, I’ve been there.

But don’t get discouraged. Change—even radical change—is possible.

The bottom line? Don’t overestimate what you can accomplish in one year. Don’t underestimate what you can do in five years.

Our Story: From Slow Death to Radical Transformation

I’ve led change in a local church for 20 years with the many of the same core group of people I started with when I was a seminary grad.

I began ministry with three small mainline churches whose total average attendance was less than 50. They churches were about as traditional as churches get: century old buildings, organs, choirs, committees, few kids and zero growth.

Within five years we had sold all three buildings and merged the three churches into a new church with a new name and a new mission. In the process, we changed the structure of leadership, engineered a radical overhaul of the style of worship, moved to an elementary school and launched a building campaign. In the process, we grew to over 10 times our original size.

Then seven years ago, a core of us left the denomination we were a part of. We left a nearly paid for building to start again in neighboring communities as Connexus, launching two locations at once. We moved from a permanent building to rented facilities and planted as a North Point Strategic Partner. Now, we see over 1,000 people on weekends, 60 percent of whom have little to no regular church attendance in their background. This has helped us realize our vision to be a church that unchurched people love to attend.

I realize, that’s a lot of change. Have we lost people? Of course.

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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.