We often hear that people resist change. I’m not sure that’s entirely accurate.
We’ll tackle that partial truth another time. For now, let’s focus on why pastors and churches are so resistant to change.
Every organization (church, business, non-profit, and all the others) struggles with change. Change moves people from a state of known to a place of unknown. Known is comfortable, and the unknown is far from it. Organizations exist because leaders need to bring order to the chaos of creative activities. Order allows for scale and predictability, all of which are essential. The bringing of order created the organization and simultaneously slowed the creative, leadership elements of change. This happens in every organization, but for churches, it seems worse.
Obviously, a complete lack of order isn’t the answer. Churches need order. The cyclical nature of what we do (is it already Sunday?) requires organizing our work, staff, and volunteers. This is a tension: Order produces resistance to change because change provokes disorder in the organization.
That’s a problem that desperately needs a solution. The church is the hope of the world. We’ve been given the saving message of the Gospel to share and spread across the globe. But the world is continuously in a state of change. Culture changes. Openness to truth changes. Consumerism has changed how people look at products, organizations, and churches. Expressive individualism has changed our response to authority (like God and his church). Moving from a Christian to post-Christian culture has dramatically affected the church. There are generational effects.
These current changes aren’t the only changes that we’ll face. These are just the recent changes. There’s more on the way, because change is the only constant in life (that’s from the ancient Greek philosopher, Heraclitus – 500 BC). If the world we serve is ever-changing, that leaves us with only one choice:
Only a church capable of changing can maintain influence in an ever-changing world.
Why do churches resist change?