A Simple Strategy to Lead Your Volunteers Into Change
Have you ever made a change at church and got way more pushback than you thought you would?
Or maybe you’ve tried to implement a change, but after a while, it somehow by itself went back to the old way?
Those are 2 scenarios I’ve experienced.
There are lots of reasons change can be hard.
Personally, my biggest problem is that if I think a change needs to be made, I want to do it immediately without consulting the people I should consult and without even thinking it through all the way (because I figure we can just fix it as we go).
I’ve learned that isn’t the right strategy (duh), and have had some great mentors walk me through a better way.
Here are some steps I’ve learned to take that have made change much easier and successful.
1. Submit the Change to Prayer
If there’s a change you want or need to make, pray about it to make sure it’s really a change God wants you to make.
I bet you’ve probably heard this before, but good ideas are not always God ideas.
Don’t move until you have a sense from the Holy Spirit whether you should go through with the change or not.
Praying also helps the change to go deeper into your heart, which will really make a difference when you begin to communicate the change with others.
2. Share Your Heart with a Few
Connect with your closest leaders who you know will give you honest and loving feedback.
Begin by sharing your heart before you get to the nuts and bolts of the change.
Don’t move forward before you have a consensus amongst each other.
I’ve found that predominantly at this stage Josh and Hannah give suggestions about making the idea better, how to communicate it more clearly, and the steps we need to take before implementing it; rather than saying we shouldn’t do it (of course if they both believed it was a bad idea, I’d listen).
Make sure you honestly and openly take the feedback you receive to heart.
3. Communicate the Change Individually with Your Team
This is the step that I’ve found to be most vital…and hardest.
Depending on the size of your volunteer team, you’ll have to do this in varying sizes of groups, but I would recommend not going more than 8 at a time.
At our church, I normally do this in pairs.
Basically, I set aside a month and before, within, and/or after the services each week, I take volunteers aside.
I begin by explaining that we’re looking at making a change.
Then I share my heart behind the change.
And finally I share the nuts and bolts of what the change will look like.
I’m careful to communicate that the implementation of the change is just an experiment.
If the change works well in fulfilling the heart of what we want to get at, we’ll keep with it.
But if it doesn’t, we’ll try something else.
Is this time consuming? Yes. Is it worth it? 100%
4. Bring Everyone Together
Note: Step 3 is normally the step I skipped in the past, but don’t, because it’s probably the most important.
Of course, it is also helpful, especially if the change is relatively big, to bring everyone together.
If you have the budget, provide a meal.
Use this time to reaffirm the heart behind the change.
And then practice with your volunteers.
Do a live run-through of what the change is going to look like practically and have your volunteers practice doing whatever is going to be different.
It’s also important to let your volunteers know there’s going to be accountability.
Because unless change is managed all the way through, you’re volunteers will tend to naturally revert back to the pre-change way.
End by encouraging your volunteers and letting them know how much you appreciate them.
Application: Do you have a change coming down the line that you practice these steps on?
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