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Ministry Change is like Swimming with an Alligator

John Gilman June 10, 2014

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BoyChange isn’t easy, but change means you’re alive. Without change, you die. A body that isn’t changing is dead. Life is a complex set of barely manageable changes that work together and keep us moving.

Churches always need to change. The word of God remains forever, but the things we do and how we do them change often.

There’s never an easy way to change. Changing a church is tough because everyone is effected, and they embrace or resist the change.

Going through change is like going swimming in a pool. You move to swim. If you don’t move you can’t swim and start to sink.

I grew up with a pool in my back yard. I put lots of things in my pool. I put dogs, cats, friends, turtles, alligators, my parents and even myself in the pool.  

Dogs: We didn’t have cool dogs who loved water. We had chihuahuas who loved us, but hated to get wet. We put them on a boogie board. The boogie board allowed them to be in the pool, but feel a safe hard object underneath them.

Leaders provide support for change. With the right support, some people can embrace change for the sake of others. 

Cats: I may have thrown a cat or two in my pool. I may have had to go into the pool to get it out. The cat may have hissed and clawed at me as it fled our yard for safety. And if that happened, I might have learned that you should never try and hold on to a scared wet cat. 

Leaders let people leave if change is to hard for them. Some people won’t change. They need to leave, and they might claw at you on the way out. Let them go. 

Turtles: We’d find tons of turtles in our yard, and they’d pull up into their shells when we grabbed them and placed them in the pool. They’d hide for a while, but once they were in the water, they’d get more comfortable and swim around. They seemed like they were having fun, but it’s hard to know what a turtle is thinking.

Leaders make change happen. Some resist change very hard at first. They draw into themselves and act like it’s not happening. Put them in the pool anyway. They’ll start swimming. 

Alligators: Alligators live all over South Florida, and one or two made their way into my pool. Duct tape is the key to having an alligator in your pool. When you tape their mouths shut, they can swim all over the pool, and won’t be able to hurt you. I’m not saying this was a good idea, and please don’t try this at home.

Leaders don’t let negative voices stop change from happening. Some people will survive the change, but need to keep their mouth shut. It’s the key to their survival.

Kids: Kids love the pool. It didn’t matter if it was sunny and 85 degrees out or a chilly rainy day. Kids always want to swim even if they’re not dressed for the occasion. I may have pushed a few of them in. I know they pushed me in. Many of my friends wound up swimming when they weren’t expecting it.

Leaders help people enjoy change. Change is good. Some people jump right in, and some don’t know how much they are going to love the change. They’ll have a blast even if it wasn’t in their plans.

Parents: When you get older, you get crusty. I, mostly, go in pools when I’m with my kids. They push me in, or I jump in and play with them.

Leaders make changes for others even when it’s uncomfortable for them. Some people need to change for the sake of others. We do things differently because it’s good for them.

We are all thinking about the changes we need to make. Praying over the things we feel God is leading us to do differently. We’ve got to make those changes, and there’s no better time than today. Everyone needs to change. Some will leave. Others will resist, and some need to keep their mouths shut. But, more people will enjoy the change and benefit from it if it’s the change God ordained.

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