Championed Change

No one likes to have change imposed on them. People resist change.

It’s human nature. The status quo. Our comfort zone. The feeling that we know what how the world is, and we have some control over it. Change threatens that.

It doesn’t matter what the change is, if it is imposed on us, we resist it.

So how do those of us that are tasked with driving change accomplish it?

The best way to drive change is to create champions of change. People who are convinced that the change they are experiencing is for the better champion it. They voice their support for it. They accept it. They embrace it, and encourage others to do the same.

Creating champions of change is difficult. It cannot be done with coercion. That is, you cannot simply tell a subordinate to execute the change and get a champion. You may get the change, but it won’t be easy.

For example, this year we did VBS differently. For years we have done the traditional Vacation Bible School thing; bringing hundred (even thousands) of kids to the church, put on a big show, teach them about the Bible, present the Gospel. There were always good results, kids got saved.

With the advent of Adventure Quest, our children’s church service, we pretty much do that every week now. What was troubling to our children’s ministry leaders was that very few children who did not already have a church home came. Last year we had about 50 of the almost 2000 kids who were not already part of a church. That’s 2.5%.

So the children’s pastor lead his team to take VBS to the community this year. We did not do our normal VBS at the church. We had smaller “Expedition Clubs” at 10 locations around the city. Six of them were held at inner city parks. There was no big event at the church building.

This created no small amount of complaint and criticism. Anyone and everyone associated with the church has heard at least one person react critically to this decision.

To deal with this the children’s pastor had several meetings to talk about why and how this new VBS plan would work. He explained the demographics of the city, the effectiveness of what we had done in the past, and what we could do. In short, we are uniquely positioned to reach a segment of the population that most churches can’t or won’t.

I for one emerged from one of those meetings ready to champion this new change. When I encountered questions or criticism of the new idea, I freely voiced my support, and presented information about why this change was a good thing.

Why? I was persuaded that this change was for the best. It was obviously something God put into the hearts of our children’s ministry workers. The facts were concrete. I was convinced we must make this effort.

When it was all done, we had over 750 kids involved. Less than half what we had last year. But, over 550 of those have no connection to any church. Many had never heard the Gospel before. The most basic information about the Bible, God and Jesus was unknown to them. We built relationships with inner city kids. We loved on them. They loved on us. They learned that God loved them enough to send his son to die for their sins.

Would we have done VBS this way regardless of opposition? Probably. But why? Creating champions of change is really creating partners. Why wouldn’t you do that if you could?