When my kids were younger, at two times during the year, Christmas Break and Spring Break, we would go through all the closets and storage boxes of clothes and discard anything that no longer fit. Some of the items were still in good shape. Some of the items were worn out. Some of them came with funny stories and precious memories. And dare I say that some of them still had the tags on them (Shhhhh! Don’t tell!) For most items, none of that mattered. The only criteria was whether the item still fit. If it didn’t fit but still looked nice, and could be used, it was time to give it away. If we wore it out, and there was no more use for it, it was time to send it to the garbage. If the seasons changed, their favorite jacket went in the storage bin. Whatever the reason, growth required change. We might laugh and tell stories to celebrate things that happened with the item. We would talk about the items current limitations. My daughter had outgrown it. The movement forward into the next season was inevitable and intentional. Growth required change.
Growth requires change, and this gives an opportunity to celebrate what happened previously.
Whether the methods are no longer suitable for the size of your church, the vision of the leadership, or the relevance of ministry, celebrate what happened previously and the stories of impact. Recognize the individuals that were most influential. Talk about the kids and students that were impacted. Celebrate how the previous changes might have been difficult but how it accomplished so much. As the previous methods are discarded and no longer used, tell the stories that value the memories and give strength for the changes that must occur in order to hold the growth that is happening.
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Growth requires change because everything has its limitations.
As most clothes are designed with a certain type in mind, so are most systems. The Excel spreadsheet that works for check in on Sunday morning with 20 kiddos is insufficient for the church hosting 400 or even 100. The Excel spreadsheet is great but it is essential to know when you’ve outgrown it and need a database or more elaborate check in system. A small group is no longer a small group when you have 30 teenagers in one room. Empower more adults to lead and break that one group into three groups where relationships can do deep. Quickly planning a gathering for a core group of five is not as easy as when you have a volunteer group of 30. When the group gets to be that size have two or three big gatherings per year and then have several smaller coffee meetings in between. Embrace those limitations and implement new ideas that will support the growth.
Growth requires change that is intentional.
Put a start date in place to move on from the old. Get advice from those that work closely with you regarding the timing of implementation. Talk to leadership and ensure they agree with the plan and the timing. Get as many people as possible in the boat and rowing the same direction. Growth and forward movement will inevitably cause waves. It is easier to row against them the more people you have rowing in the same direction. As the process of change slows down after the initial onset, celebrate the great moments of the process and note the lower moments so that they won’t be repeated the next time growth and change occur.
Growth and change go hand-in-hand. Whether the growth is reflected in the changed lives of your kids, students, and families or the quantitative data of those participating in small groups, change is required. The same way we embrace moving on when changing out too small or outdated clothing, we must be willing to change out methods and practices that we have also outgrown. Celebrate change by being willing to grow. And embrace your growth by being willing to change.
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