1. Give responsibility back. When a layperson says, “Somebody ought to be doing this,” as a pastor, you might respond saying, “That sounds like just the thing God may be calling you to do.”
2. Expect trouble. Too many pastors see themselves exclusively as peacemakers, reconcilers. Most of us pastors like to be liked. But conversion is inherently part of the Christian faith. The call for relinquishment of one belief and the embrace of another can produce conflict. People do not give up power easily…Trouble comes with the territory when the truth is involved.
3. Value small steps. It is a virtue to have a long-range vision, but it is essential for the pastor to realize that one gets there by a series of many small steps.
4. Plan. Laity complain about the wasted time and dissipated energy that result from having no long-range vision for the congregation, no means of holding ourselves accountable, no way to know when we have actually accomplished something and ought to celebrate. Planning helps keep a church on course, enables a pastor to prioritize pastoral time and focus energies in a commonly conceived direction.
5. Identify the vital few. Who are those who like to get things done? Who in the congregation can be counted on to make things happen?….Do not tackle too many things at once; stick with the few things that are essential and possible. Give the congregation a few victories to celebrate rather than risk constantly being overwhelmed with many defeats.
6. Do not overvalue consensus. Not everything needs to be put to a vote. Sometimes we need to ask members who have grave reservations about some course of action to trust those who want to move. If we wait until everyone is on board, we disempower those who are ready to take risks, and risk takers are usually in short supply in most churches.
7. Count the yes votes. We often worry more about those who are not yet ready to move, or may never be ready to move, than we worry about those who are bored, frustrated, and disheartened when too little takes too long to happen in the church…Sometimes we need to let the enthusiastic lay leaders go ahead, counting the yes votes. Rarely will a majority support a new ministry from the first, particularly if the new ministry requires risk.
8. Create a new working group for a new job. Established structures tend to protect the status quo. Established boards love to say no. If there is a new ministry to be done, you probably ought to create a new committee, composed of those who feel called to this work, to do the job.
9. Change by addition, not subtraction. It is easier to get approval to begin a project than to kill an established ministry. Why mobilize the supporters of the established program against you by declaring it dead and ready for burial? God ahead with new initiatives. If the new program succeeds, people will gradually rally around it. People are more likely to let go of the old if they have something new to embrace.
10. Be persistent. Change, no matter how obviously needed, inevitably provokes resistance. Don’t give up too soon. Studies indicate it takes about five years before a pastor has gained the trust of the congregation to make significant, threatening change.