This is part of a blog series that has 30 practical tips for the pastor looking to start or restart well. You can get the entire series as a Kindle book. The landing page will be updated with each new post.
Don’t Change Anything
It doesn’t matter how painful it is to watch or how obvious it is to you that change is needed you have to tap the breaks.
The cynics and those who are leery of you just because you are new are expecting that you will come in and change things and they are prepared to resist you. This small handful of people is only really a threat when they are able to rally others to their foregone conclusions. So don’t give them any ammunition.
You may have just read that paragraph and are now thinking that I am a combative cynic that is contributing to the problem rather than the solution.
In part you are right. I have been burned before and it hurts. People resisted my leadership not because of what I was changing, but because I was changing something. And what I have learned is that the only real solution is trust.
If you come in and change things in the first 30 days you will find resistance, if you wait and build trust you will have considerably less. No matter how you lead change there will be some who are against it, basic sociology tells us that there are always late adopters who need to see it before they get behind it. However if you have developed trust through relationships you ease and limit this resistance.
The most important reason for you to wait on changing things though is that you need to learn. As I have worked with other Rookie Pastors pride has consistently been a barrier to healthy leadership, and my own personal story backs this up. The sooner you realize that what you have learned or read does not perfectly translate to your new community the better off you will be.
You need to understand the distinct culture you are walking into and the only way you can do this is by waiting a bit before you start making changes. The anxiety that people have about a new minister coming into town is the concern that some prideful young leader is going to come in and change everything. So show some humility and learn a thing or two about the people before you start making changes.