We’re getting ready for the 2012 Ideas to Impact Conference – it’s hard to believe it’s less than a month away! Here’s another guest blog post by Ideas to Impact keynote speaker Nicole Unice, who serves in student and family ministry at Hope Church, the fastest growing church in Richmond, VA.
Nicole is also the author of She’s Got Issues (May 2012), a book on God’s work in women’s ordinary struggles. Nicole blogs at www.nicoleunice.com.
3 Ways to Use Your Influence for Change in a Church Setting
Change. There’s something about it that we all love. We look forward to new seasons, new opportunities, new relationships. But as much as we anticipate the good that change brings, we also resist it. Change often means work. It means conflict. And it means stepping out of our comfort zone and into unknown territory. But change is also inevitable. Every leader has to grapple with their way of facilitating change in the wild and dynamic community that is a church.
When you think of change—implementing something new, shifting something existing or removing something old—what do you feel? Do you get excited? Are you hesitant or scared? Do you have a sense of dread at how these changes will be received? Here are a few ways to make change more effective in your community:
1) Be Open-Minded. When I was tasked with starting a women’s ministry in our new church, the first step was making sure that my idea of what we needed did in fact line up with the majority of women in my church. This process began with knowing about what the end goal of the ministry should be without becoming too caught up in the means of accomplishing that goal. When I had achieved consensus on what the goal of the ministry was, it became easier to dream big about the many different ways we could accomplish that goal.
2) But Not Too Open-Minded! When a leader is too narrow minded about how something can be done, they often miss the opportunity to hear great ideas and to provide a chance for others to buy into the plan. But just as dangerous is the leader who has no sense at all of what he/she is trying to accomplish. When a leader enters a meeting or committee without clarity about what the mission or vision of the change is, the group is easily sidetracked. Most of the time, we work with volunteers in our organizations, and we need to respect their time and energy. If a leader invites people to move with them but has no road map or sense of an end location, he/she will lose influence.
3) Leverage Relationships. Anyone interested in moving their organization into change needs to be aware of their current relationships and how to leverage them. To return to the women’s ministry example, the second step in the visioning process was to invite women in every stage of life to come together for a short series of meetings. These women became my “pilot group” to test ideas, brainstorm methods, and cast out a vision to see if it landed well with their needs and dreams. These same women all had influence in their own circles of life. By spending intentional time with them first, I was able to leverage my influence into multiple groups within our community.
By doing the hard work of casting vision for a ministry, being open minded about the means to accomplishing that goal, and leveraging current relationships to spread my influence, our women’s ministry continues to be a integral part of our church community, even after I stepped out of that leadership role.
Change doesn’t have to be scary! If we want our churches and ministries to be relevant and life-changing, we must be willing to ask the hard questions, open our minds about the possible answers, and move forward with confidence even when things don’t go exactly as planned.
Join us at the Ideas to Impact Conference in Atlanta to see Nicole speak in person – including a session on Managing Conflict in a Church Setting. Get more information and register at IdeastoImpact.com.