Steps to Change [MAIN STORY]
Moving toward the new you
These are the steps we took in order to foster change. They may work for your church, too.—Bill Bossert
1. Don’t assume you know what the problem is. This is the most crucial place to start real change. We thought we already knew what all the problems were. We were dead wrong. Finding out took time and effort, but it kept us from working on issues that weren’t the cause of the problems at all.
2. Gather as much data as you can before drawing any conclusions. The more facts we could pull together, the easier it was to see the scope of the problem we faced. We checked our community demographics online with the U.S. Census. Then we asked our church clerk to give us our church’s demographics, which included members and attending nonmembers. We wanted to know if our church reflected the community demographics around us. It did not.
3. See what or who is missing from your church demographics (people groups). It was easy once we had the clerk’s reports to find the different generational groupings in our church. We divided our whole group into four (builder-boomer-buster-bridger) categories. Placing them in a bar chart made it easy for all to see where we were not being effective.
4. Start reading. Once we knew exactly who was not attending, we then went in search of timely information and solid research on how to reach that group. We were particularly interested in the young adults who were right around us. But once we got into reading the wealth of information on postmodern culture and young adults, we saw a much larger picture that helped us address the deeper, needed changes.
5. Start making a list of areas that need to be discussed. Here is the step where most churches want to start. We had to fight the urge to go to problem solving quickly without doing our homework first. It is still a temptation, but we frequently ask ourselves if we are trying to do “the quick and dirty” method. We firmly believe real change cannot happen without doing the first four steps first.
Once we had done our homework, the list of what we needed to do was easier and more workable. For us, we had to do something about our boring worship service. For others, it may be other things. We developed a list of about eight items to start, and since then have kept adding to that list.
6. Decide together what to do first. Only after we had the list and had done the rest of our homework could we decide how to act. We knew we had to think of the needs of those born after 1964 first. Yet we didn’t want to alienate our builders. We carefully crafted an 18-month strategy to keep people informed and moving together. Information that everyone can understand and take ownership of was crucial. We still work on that even today.
7. Realize that change brings conflict. We knew that change would bring some conflict. By taking our time and bringing people along with us we avoided a lot. But some—at first—grumbled about things being different from what they were used to. Some weren’t sure if we were moving toward abandoning our Adventist roots. Time helped settle those fears, but the changes we made are known now to be Spirit-led.
8. Keep moving forward. Don’t give up! Here at The Shepherd’s House we accept the fact that we are at the beginning of our adventure, not the end. We are looking forward all the time to where the Lord is working now and how we can work together with Him. We have determined that we want to actually follow Christ into our community. So we aren’t going to stop moving forward. We recognize that if we are doing the same things a year from now that we are currently doing, we’re not where He is.