Why Change Fails


If you talk to any leader or pastor, they will tell you stories of changes, new ideas and initiatives failing. Even if, the new program would do better than the old program.

Churches are notorious for change failing.

Why quit having a class when no one comes? Because someone’s grandmother started that ministry 35 years ago. Why add drums or change how worship is done? Why bring in lights or projectors? Why should we change how we do discipleship since the way it is happening right now is not developing leaders or disciples? Because we’ve always done it this way. 

Going right along with this is a failure on the part of pastors and leaders to engage change well.

In his book Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds, Carmine Gallo makes this comment:

People don’t know what they want and, if they do, they have a hard time articulating what they truly desire.

The average person, when you ask them if they prefer A or B, they don’t know what they would prefer. They only know what they have experienced.

If your church only does Sunday School and you begin exploring small groups, people who have never experienced them will be resistant. Especially because pastors don’t know how to ask. They ask if “they would go to a home group?” “NO” is the resounding answer.

When a church begins exploring a second service, all people can think of is what they lose if the church goes to 2 services and how it will change their life and bring them a different experience.

Churches exploring multi-site and video preaching run into the same thing. People in your church only have one lens to look through, what they know and have experienced. 

A better way to change something is to ask:

  • Would you be open to trying a small group in a house?
  • Would you be open to going to an earlier service so we can open up seats for guests?
  • Would you be open to attending a church plant we send out?
  • Would you be open to trying a church with video preaching?

Now, when they say no and someone will, you are having a different conversation. Now you are talking about vision and buy in. Now you are talking about idols, resistance to change, what their fears are to new things. You also have an opportunity to help a person wrestle through what they don’t know and helping them see that they don’t know something. This is a great opportunity to shepherd someone into new things and help lead them.

Leaders, we need to learn how to ask better questions.

Four years into the life of Revolution Church we changed from meeting on Saturday nights in a church building to Sunday morning in a school. We had to raise $50,000 to go portable, set everything up and tear it all down and we changed days and times. There was some resistance. But we asked people if they would be open to trying it. Most everyone said they would try it. Same when we transitioned from semester small groups that met for 12 weeks to moving our church to being on mission in missional communities.

Leader, as you lead change, ask better questions to move your people and your church forward.


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