Several times, after presenting to a group of pastors on re-shaping the practice of the church for Mission, I lead a closing session where I ask pastors to share their top reasons for why “this will never work.” Last Spring I was in Nebraska leading a pastor’s workshop for the American Baptist Pastors, and during this session one of the pastors gave me his top ten reasons in written form. I think they are great. My apologies to the pastor who wrote this list because I do not have his name. The list is instructive as to what blocks congregations from change. Here’s the list in bold, along with my quick responses in italics. What other hurdles do you face in leading change in your church body? What responses might you have to this list?
1. “We’ve never done it that way before!” And that’s possibly why we need to do this? Change requires doing something different than what has gone on before.
2. Unbelief in God’s power and presence. If we would lead change at all, we must lead people into Christ’s presence via prayer and the Eucharist. It is the foundation of all transformation in the church.
3. “We tried that before and it didn’t work.” We must ask ourselves what does it mean for something ”to work” in God’s church, and how long we might have to wait to see it happen. God is so excessively patient.
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