Navigating change is difficult work. Full stop. Whatever the change may bring as an outcome – good or bad, the actual process of changing from an established routine to the unknown, IS difficult. In our world of producing services for the church environment – change is going to happen. How we handle the change and choose to carry ourselves through the process is where the learning and growth happens. Navigating changes in leadership, while leading others is challenging. But it can be rewarding if we take a posture of humbleness and curiosity into the uncertainty of the new.
Transitions are important. In our church services, we will strive to make the shift from one element to the next as smooth as possible. We will rehearse that key change until each instrument of the band feels cohesive. We will tweak the timing on the lyric slides to match the tempo of the tune. We will practice the moment when we enter into prayer from a song until it flows together well. As a group, we will pour into these details – all for the opportunity to help eliminate distractions and usher people into a closer relationship with God. I believe we are called to commit that same attention to detail and care to our team relationships as well.
Transitions for staff, leaders, and key volunteers on your teams are all going to happen. Setting a foundation of trust and connection will ease the channels of communication when changes occur. I have come to an understanding of how ministry work comes in seasons. Some seasons are longer than others and can lead to a lifetime of working alongside someone or even a group of people. Some seasons are short and powerful – with lots of learning and quick growth for your team. As these seasons change – let us be open to the idea that if things are feeling great and clicking on all cylinders for you right now, there will come a time when that shifts and your team will struggle. This looks different for all of us – it could be lower recruitment numbers during a specific time of year. It could be that your best volunteer now has to move away for another opportunity. It could be family dynamics or health concerns, or really anything that causes change within your ministry team. Leading through these changes will grow your influence with the team. Let’s be open, honest, and caring during these times. Sharing your thoughts with team members, either individually or collectively, will help to bring a cohesive team together. Unity around a change is a great way to keep learning through the process.
Here are some key ways to bring a team together around a new idea or change. First, celebrate where you have been as a team. Call out the things that are important to your group and will remain a strong part of your culture as you go forward. Over-communicate the vision for where you want the team to be as you look further ahead.
Pastor Andy Stanley is famous for saying:
“Vision is a mental picture of what could be, fueled by a passion that it should be.”
If we can lean on the vision of our teams and trust the process to move forward, we are already pressing into the changes from a healthy position. Often, an unexpected change can bring a sense of disunity and can stir up questions of stability. By shifting our focus back to the tenets that we have built upon, we are able to lead from a place of faith rather than fear. Faith that God has seen us through many storms, that He has never failed, and that He won’t let us fall.
We should also be quick to understand that transitions are necessary. We learn through the loss of what came before. A disruption to the status quo can often push us into a place of learning and development. Growth happens on the edge of your comfort zone. If we can check our posture to be sure that we remain humble – it will help us to lead from a place of curiosity rather than skepticism. This is a hard practice to master. We should start with trust and seek to understand the “new” that is in front of us – so that we can return to a place of strength and confidence. God will guide us, and our teams, through a trial and to a place of joy and acceptance.
Looking for more learning on building healthy teams? Digital resources from FILO 2023 are now live! Check out our Digital Resources from the FILO 2023 Leadership Track.