How to Get Essential Leaders on Board with Change


Last week, I had the opportunity to speak at Exponential on the topic of transitioning a church with small groups to a church with Missional Communities. A few asked for some notes on it and thought I’d do a few blog posts on it.

The first step in this process is to start with why and the win of this transition. The second step is to get essential leaders on board. This is simple change theory and applies to any change a leader is thinking about making, but it is incredibly important as we talk about transitioning a church from small groups to missional communities.

The reason is: groups and MC’s are so different that it will change everything about your church. It is not simply adding “missional” to your church, but changes everything. 

When you make any change or transition you need to be able to answer these questions: Who needs to know? When do they need to know it?

A few other things to ask: What leaders will be the most crucial to making this transition happen? Who are the people in this church (leadership by title or leadership by influence) who can keep this transition from happening that I need to get on board early?

Too many leaders when they make a change think they can bulldoze through it because “they’ve heard from God” or “are the leader.”

When we transitioned from groups to MC’s, we made a list of everyone we thought who could be an MC leader and I met with them to cast the vision, invite them into the process and join in being a part of this. By the time we announced the change to our church, almost 30% of our church knew about the change, why we were making it and were on board with it.

This is the moment the change becomes real because you invite people into it. 

Up until this moment, the change or transition is simply a dream, a hope, a prayer in your mind. This moment is when you put the flag in the ground and bring others into it.

To get the leaders on board that you need, you will have to make sure the change is clear, thought out and you can answer questions.

In short: be as clear as possible. 


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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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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.


Philip Nation on How we do email completely wrong.

Email is a normal part of my everyday life. It is for many of us. It is a tool that can be a huge help. But, if executed poorly, email is a great weight dragging you to the depths of productivity oblivion. The reason is summarized by a great observation that my friend and LifeWay colleague Brian Daniels has made, “Anyone with an email account is your boss.” It would be funny if it were not true.

10 things you could’ve done this morning if you had gotten up early.

You were going to get up early today. Instead, you stayed up late last night. Now, after resetting your alarm twice, you are rushing to get out the door. What could you have done if you had gotten up early today?

Ryan Kearns on 4 ways small groups can work with the sermon (this is why our MC’s study the sermon).

Ministry is really hard. But sometimes we make it harder on ourselves by not having our core ministries working together. A preaching pastor can find himself wishing for a deeper impact and application of his sermon than just what happens on Sunday morning. On the other side, a community group leader can suffer from a lack of focus and direction and bear the constant weight of preparing multiple curriculums.

Carlos Whittaker on How to avoid the monday morning hangover for church staff.

5 ways to stay productive if you work from home.

The work from home lifestyle is certainly not for everyone (especially those that thrive on day to day interactions with coworkers), but if you have a job where working remotely is an option, here are some tips for keeping you productive and happy.

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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.


John Piper on When we send someone to their death.

Ronnie Smith was shot and killed in Benghazi, Libya, on Thursday. He was 33. He was a husband and father. The leaders of his home church have given me permission to respond to his death publicly and carefully. You can read the fuller story at World or in the mainstream media. One of the reasons I want to respond is because Ronnie wrote to us at Desiring God last year and told us that one of my messages was significant in leading him and his family to Libya. Now Anita is a widow, and his son Hosea has lost his father.

Jon Bloom on For all who have ever lost a child.

Suffering. Evil. Death. All of us experience them. They consume the lives of our precious loved ones — sometimes in unspeakably horrible ways. They bend us to the ground and produce tearful groanings too deep for words.

Thom Rainer on One of the biggest mistakes pastors make.

Pastors, I want to talk frankly and, hopefully, with a spirit of love, about one of the biggest mistakes I see many of you make. Most pastors have little emphasis, or sometimes, even knowledge about the content that is taught in groups in their churches.

Jonathan Holmes on Why does he look at pornography.

Something I have found personally helpful in counseling with both men and women through this issue is helping the counselee identify what motivates him or her to seek out pornography. In some ways we might say the actual viewing of pornography is symptomatic of a deeper worship disorder that is happening in the heart. What motivates and precedes the viewing of pornography? Once that can be identified then more specific biblical counsel can often be offered.

Letting pastors be real.

We have a cultural tendency to elevate leaders. Maybe it’s because they have an extraordinary education or a title or a position. Maybe it is because they have had a great deal of success in the growth of their church, or as an author or speaker. Whatever the reason, we’re creating minigods in our minds and hearts. That creates expectations in leaders, and expectations are the foundations for disappointment.

One Family’s Adoption Journey

Links of the Week

  1. According to Christianity Today, being a pastor is a risky profession. This is a helpful article for pastor’s to know the dangers and for their churches to know how to support and pray for their pastor.
  2. Brent Thomas gives his favorite albums of the year so far. Admittedly, I have none of these, some were on the list, but they’re now moving up the list.
  3. How the gospel makes us generous and content with our money.
  4. Ed Stetzer on Freedom of religion has to be freedom for everyone.
  5. New Barna research on how churches are impacting their community and how they are viewed by their communities.
  6. Will Mancini on 6 ways to communicate vision every week. This is helpful and important for leaders to understand.
  7. The missional student ministry. Makes me grateful for the leadership Paul Samson gives to Rev uP.
  8. Pete Wilson Taking a digital detox. I cherish going on vacation, leaving my computer at home and handing Katie my phone so I don’t check it.
  9. Spiritual warfare in the home. This is real and you need to pray against it.
  10. Michael Hyatt on 5 reasons you need to get better at saying “No.”
  11. Instant churches. We are blessed to meet in another church, but I definitely could see us having 1 or more sites that meet in schools in the future.
  12. Charles Stone on 5 really bad ways pastors react when people compare them to more successful churches.
  13. Factors that predict multiplication of communities.
  14. R.C. Sproul on Understanding what the Bible says on homosexuality.
  15. Leadership red flags.

Links of the Week

  1. Scott Williams on 5 mistakes ministry leaders make.
  2. How the gospel helps us overcome pornography. This is a must see interview if you struggle with this.
  3. Tim Keller on The family. This is a great post on how we view family and children.
  4. Ed Stetzer on The long term goal of the church is the harvest, not in a disneyfied Sunday morning service.
  5. Rick Warren on How to maximize your time. As he points out, “The difference between successful and average people/leaders is time management.
  6. Are you embracing these church trends? Tony Morgan did a great series with close to 20 church leaders asking them what trends they see in the coming years. Eye opening stuff for leaders, definitely pushed my thinking.
  7. Tim Keller on Spiritual and secular jobs are God’s work.
  8. Jeff Vanderstelt on How a missional community is different from a bible study.
  9. Anthony Bradley on The social costs of pornography. This is an incredibly eye opening study on the effects of pornography.
  10. How applicable is the biblical view of women in today’s culture? Great article by Grace Driscoll on a pretty controversial topic.

Saturday Night Mind Dump…

  • Tonight was an intense day in Tucson and at Revolution
  • It started with a shooting on the Northwest side of the city of Representative Giffords
  • We changed the flow of our service tonight to better handle the mood of the city and what was happening
  • It was a great opportunity to bring the gospel to bear on a horrible situation
  • We kicked off our brand new series Give Me Faith on the book of James
  • It was perfect timing for what many people in our church are going through and what our city experienced this weekend for me to talk about trials and why God allows storms to happen in our lives
  • I was reminded tonight how involved God is in our city and church
  • We plan our sermons 6-10 months in advance and we debated starting James in February but decided to start it in January and then today we had a horrible tragedy in Tucson
  • It was God’s perfect timing for us to talk about trials and why God allows things to happen
  • If you missed tonight, you can listen to it here
  • If you didn’t pick up a study guide tonight, you can download it here
  • This is a great way to get into Scripture in 2011 and follow along as we walk through the book of James this spring
  • We kicked off sign ups for our spring small groups tonight and they are filling up fast
  • Love seeing that happen
  • We have a ton going on at Revolution in January
  • We have a child dedication on January 22
  • We have a newcomer’s brunch on January 23
  • And a partnership class on January 30
  • I’m driving up to Phoenix 2-3 times a month to be a part of the surge school leadership as part of Acts 29
  • This is something that we will start doing in 2011 at Revolution as a way of training new leaders, potential elders, church planters and other leaders at Revolution
  • It will be a seminary on-site
  • Can’t beging to tell you how excited I am about this opportunity for our church and city
  • There are so many things happening behind the scenes right now at Revolution as we prepare for what is next
  • I would covet your prayers for myself and our leaders as we seek wisdom and figure out what steps to take and what steps to not take, there are so many great opportunities right now, and God’s hand is definitely moving in our church and preparing us for some incredible things
  • I often get asked why God allows things to happen (which is what my sermon was about), here is my breakdown of some reasons why
  • I’m wiped from today and roller coaster ride today was
  • Looking forward to watching some football with some neighbors and Revolutionaries tomorrow
  • Love the challenge of living on mission (some of the things God is challenging me on through the surge school, more on that later)

Saturday Night Mind Dump…

  • It’s been a few weeks since I blogged a mind dump because of the holidays
  • Amazing night tonight at Revolution
  • I feel like I say that most weeks, even though when it isn’t as good as tonight, I do say that as well
  • But tonight was a powerful night
  • Paul was on vacation tonight and A.J. did a great job of leading tonight
  • Love seeing new leaders getting developed and stepping up
  • It was great having a week off from preaching
  • We showed a video from Craig Groeschel tonight called “One Thing”, you can listen to it here on our podcast
  • It walks through 4 questions to ask to discover the one thing God is calling you to
  • In case you are curious, here are my goals for 2011 (I do goals instead of resolutions because goals actually get done)
  • This week I start getting trained through Acts 29 for the surge school
  • This is going to be the primary way we train up potential leaders, elders, pastors, small group leaders, and church planters at Revolution. It is a seminary on-site
  • I can’t wait for this to get off the ground in the coming year
  • As I’m going through the curriculum, I am getting so much out of it personally
  • It covers leadership, pastoral care, theology, mission and community
  • Speaking of things coming up
  • I had a meeting this week, that if everything falls into place will be a complete game changer for Revolution in 2011
  • I’ll share more details as it becomes official, but it is awesome
  • I did the best of lists that most blogs do, so if you missed them, here are my my top albums, books and posts of the past year
  • It was cool putting these lists together to see what God has done in my life over the past year, how I’ve grown and the journey I’ve been on
  • Blogging, reading and music have a way of telling a story
  • I can’t wait for next Saturday as we kick off our new series on the book of James called Give. Me. Faith.
  • I realize that I say that for every series we do, and I am excited for every series we do
  • But this one is going to be special for our church in a way no other series has been and I believe it is going to push us as a church in ways no other series has
  • James is one of my favorite books of the Bible and I have been waiting to preaching through it
  • So many great things and is coming at the right time for our church
  • Many of you have asked and we will have the study guide for James available this coming Saturday
  • Also, next Saturday our sign ups for small groups will start
  • Katie has some chocolates sitting next to me that are hard to not eat
  • Tomorrow is donut sunday at our house and watching a big Steelers game, we need that week bye
  • We’re also having our new years day meal:  Brats
  • Right now, I’m reading some great books that are worth checking out:  Decision Points (great look at how George Bush made decisions, I’m learning a lot about him) and To Change the World (this book is stretching my thinking more than any book has in a long time, highly, highly recommend it)
  • Right now, I am in one of those places where I see God moving in ways I could not have guessed he would move, in powerful ways in my life and the life of my church and I am grateful
  • I told Katie that I love when God reminds me how much he cares about me and our church
  • He is orchestrating things in a way that I could not have even written
  • Stay tuned, 2011 is going to be off the hook

Starting the New Year Off Revolution Style

We had a great Christmas Eve service and broke through 200 for the first time! It was awesome to see so many first time and second time guests. Way to go on taking that huge step to invite people. If you missed Christmas Eve, you can listen to the message here.

Because I don’t want you to miss anything, here is how we are kicking off 2011 at Revolution.

This Saturday, January 1st, we are back to our regular schedule with a service at 5pm at 6620 E 22nd St. and we are having a special service on “The One Thing.” Many of us will make New Year’s Resolutions, but very few of us will keep them. Even fewer will actually do the one thing this year that God has called them to. We will be looking at 4 questions we need to ask to figure out what is the “one thing” God is calling each of us to in 2011.

Many of you have asked and yes, there is still time to give to the Christmas offering. You can do so online before the end of the year, or on Saturday night. We have had requests to give to the Christmas offering into January because of bonuses and other things, so you can do that through the month of January. This is a great opportunity for us as a church to bless the city and community around us and help to move the gospel forward outside the 4 walls of Revolution.

Don’t forget, we are kicking off a brand new series on the book of James called “Give Me Faith” on January 8th. Be on the lookout for the James study guide in the next week and be prepared to have your faith stretched as look at how to follow Jesus in everyday life and to be on mission to move the gospel forward where we live.

We will also begin our sign ups for our spring small groups at the beginning of January, so be on the lookout for that.

Lots of great things happening and coming up at Revolution. Can’t wait to get started. Join me in asking God to stretch us, challenge us, take us out of our comfort zones and that he would move in powerful ways as we help people find their way back to God. It is going to be a great spring at Revolution.

Saturday Night Mind Dump…

  • Tonight was a night where I didn’t speak and got to attend church, a rare treat
  • Felt weird though
  • Dave did a great job preaching tonight
  • It’s nice to have guys who can preach to give me a night off
  • He talked about how Christians get so caught up in different ideas and agendas (not all of them bad or even unbiblical) but that in the process, we lose sight of the gospel
  • The message of 2 Timothy is fight for the gospel
  • The gospel is the answer, it is the only thing that changes lives, always fall back on that, always rest in that, always push that
  • The gospel should be our only agenda
  • I’ll get off my soapbox
  • 🙂
  • Equally cool is seeing our band step up and take the challenge of cover songs
  • We did a Skillet song a few weeks ago, but tonight they hit a home run with a Panic at the Disco song
  • Wow
  • Because I wasn’t preaching, I was bored before the service so I just walked around
  • It was amazing to see all the people who show up early to make Revolution happen each week
  • It is humbling to see everyone and how bought in they are and wanting to make Revolution great each and every week
  • We seriously have the best staff and volunteers on the planet
  • We shot a video after church tonight that we will use next Saturday during one of the worship songs that is going to be powerful
  • So ready for football season to be here
  • Even though my Steelers will probably have a rough start, any football is good football
  • Got 2 fantasy drafts tomorrow night, one with some guys from Revolution and one with a bunch of pastors in Tucson
  • Right now, I’m in this weird funk right now and I’m not sure why
  • I’d appreciate your prayers
  • Had a really hard week that left me feeling beat up
  • Which means God knew what he was doing by doing it before a holiday weekend so I can recover
  • Looking forward to 2 days with nothing but hanging out with Katie and the kids
  • Thinking about hiking one of those days
  • So cool seeing our fall small groups filling up
  • I think at least one of them is already full and a few are getting close, so don’t wait
  • For more info, check this out
  • One of the cool things that has been happening every week at Revolution is a bunch of first time guests
  • Love meeting them, hearing how they found Revolution and how much they like it
  • Sweet
  • The coolest part is almost all of them came with someone
  • Way to go Revolutionaries!
  • Speaking of tonight’s sermon, here are two great links on how Christians should live out their faith:  here is Russell Moore’s take and Chuck Colson’s take
  • You definitely don’t want to miss next week
  • I’ll be preaching about how to have freedom and fight the sin in your life
  • If you or someone you know would love to have freedom in their life from something but can never seem to find it, then you need to bring them next week
  • It will be powerful