Death and taxes–and now change–are life’s constants.
How we identify potential changes and deal with them often spells the difference between a growing and a stagnant ministry.
There are four approaches to change. Which one describes you?
- Change is constantly happening and you are able to change with it.
- Change is taking place, but you’re able to keep doing what you are doing without changing.
- You aren’t changing with the times, everyone knows you should, but no one is willing to confront the fact of change,
- You can see the change ahead, and adapt what you are doing before the change is inevitable.
If you identify with #1, I want to be a volunteer in your program or buy stock in the company you lead! You are comfortable with change, aren’t intimidated by it, able to see it when it is anywhere around you, and able to respond. “Able” meaning ready, having the ability, even the desire to respond.
If #2 is more similar to what’s happening in your ministry, do not be afraid as the St. Louis Jesuits wrote. It looks like change is happening, but perhaps you’ve planned far enough in advance, chosen really rich programs and resources that can withstand a certain amount of change before you have to face a shift. It’s a nice place to be, but don’t get overly comfortable because you may be #3 soon.
We probably all have nightmares about being aligned with #3. It’s the old “head in the sand” approach. In most situations, you haven’t faced the choice of change or die yet. Best case, someone of their own free will confronts you. Worst case, everyone around you reinforces that everything is fine as it is. Who loses? Usually those with whom you minister. Is that really what you want to happen?
And #4 is the “healthy” approach. We’d all like to be there, but life sometimes interferes. Confirmation has to happen. Have to keep the five service programs going so that all of those service hours get completed. Etc. Etc. Etc.
How do we keep the spigot of change open and flowing? A few thoughts.
- Look for improvements in what you are already doing. Are you marketing it enough? Is your message strong or clear enough? Are you attracting other leaders who can help you implement the improvements and other potential changes?
- Identify the expectations people have for you and your ministry. What end do they expect you to achieve? Ensure that their children go to Mass? Make sure that they stay Catholic? Diversify the ministry? Have more outreach to more people?
- Schedule regular opportunities to step back and scan the environment to see what changes are ahead in order to prepare for them. Invite your best allies and some of your biggest challengers. Do it quarterly, but do it, lest the change overtake you.