Our family recently moved from New Mexico to Texas. As you can imagine, this made for some pretty big changes. We found ourselves in a new neighborhood, looking for a new church, having to find new grocery stores and gas stations and seeking to build new relationships.
It’s been exciting, but also pretty stressful. Change – especially big change – is hard. I’ve found myself grieving certain small things. I can’t go to what was my favorite coffee shop in our previous town. I don’t recognize faces when I walk into the auto shop or the gas station.
Even exciting new journeys bring their share of grief along the way. As a pastor, I’m not sure I’ve taken enough time to allow people to grieve the big and small things when we’ve introduced changes.
Our family communicated a lot throughout this whole process. Our kids, now 13 and 12, were brought in on this possibility very early on during a family meeting. We made sure we were on the same page. My wife and I tried to give them as much information as possible about what was happening with the move, where we were in the process, and answering their questions. Oftentimes, the answer to those questions was a simple, “I don’t know those details right now.” That didn’t necessarily make it easier, but I think it made it a bit less hard.
During one of the last nights before we loaded the truck, my wife made a comment to our kids that struck me. She said, “This is going to be hard. A lot of things will change. But, no matter what, we will be together. That won’t change.”
I think it’s important to understand this as a church family as well. When your church is facing a change, you should communicate as much as you can. If you don’t know the answer to certain questions, it’s OK to simply say, “I don’t know.” Change brings about a whole lot of unknowns, and it’s all right to acknowledge that.
But I also think it’s immensely important to communicate that, no matter what changes, at the end of the day, a church body is a family. Will you always get along? No. Will you sometimes disagree strongly about seemingly insignificant things? Yes. But no matter what, at the end of the day, you’re still a family. You’re still part of the same body of Christ.
So, our family is still navigating the changes that come from a move. I imagine we will for the next several months. And then, do you know what will happen? We’ll settle into a routine and things will feel “normal.” They’ll feel different and weird for a while, but we’ll get used to the new rhythm.
The same is true of leading change in your church. Yes, things may be awkward for a while. But eventually, you’ll settle into a new rhythm, and it will feel natural.
And, no matter what, we’re still a family.
Published June 1, 2021