How can I get them to …

By Bob Bickford

Some of the most frequent questions we receive from Replanters go something like this …

  • I have a Deacon who is anti-everything I propose…
  • Our Worship Pastor is not willing to ….
  • Generally our church is inward focused …
  • Our tech volunteer is really committed to …
  • Historically our church has always done …

How can I get them to change?

Leading change in a Replant is absolutely necessary and often it is about as difficult as pushing a cart with square wheels up a muddy hill in a driving rainstorm. Replanters and Revitalization Pastors often wrestle with the slow pace and the great pain of bringing about changes so that the church can regain its gospel vitality. Change is possible, but you may need to change your approach to see real change take place.

Change Your Perspective: Instead of viewing your people as obstacles begin viewing them as partners. God has called both you and them to be part of this local expression of the church. Determine to discover ways you can partner with them for Gospel ministry. Spend time talking, listening and dreaming together about ways they can contribute to the mission to proclaim Jesus and make disciples.

Change Your Pace: Replanters often want change yesterday. The real truth is this; the longer the church has been in decline–the longer it will take for it to turn around. There are some exceptions to this rule (for instance when a declined church becomes part of a campus network) or merges with a healthy church or church plant. I have no real scientific data on this, honestly it’s much more a gut feeling, but I’m finding that it often takes one year for every decade the church has experienced decline before you see real growth.

Change What You Celebrate: You are moving toward a vision that is years down the road, you see the church as it could be and as you want it to be, but it’s not there yet and may not be for quite a while. Rather than waiting to celebrate when the church becomes what you envision–celebrate each step it takes in getting there. Celebrate the small things: a few more babies in the nursery, a new sign, fresh paint or carpet, a new members meeting, each new guest. These may not seem like earth shattering victories but they are indicators that you are making progress.

Change How You Pray: As a Replanter you may find yourself praying more about problems and problem people than for the power of the Holy Spirit to be evident in your church and the lives of your people. You may be a great leader but you alone cannot change a person’s heart–that’s God’s work. Pray for the Holy Spirit to convict, comfort, counsel and change you and your people.

Real change is possible but it’s not something you can make happen, it is a work of God. He will use you in bringing about change but changing hearts is His business.

Published March 22, 2016

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Bob Bickford

Bob Bickford is a Replant Pastor in suburban St. Louis, serves as the Associate Director of Replant for the North American Mission Board and is the co-author of Am I a Replanter,  Pathways to Partnership and the Associational Replanting Guide. Follow Bob on twitter @bobick