After analyzing the need for change and recognizing the barriers to change, we know what needs to be done and what stands in the way. Yet another key question has to be answered: “How will we bring about this change?”

How we do something is as important as what we do. Unless we facilitate change in such a way that we bring the people with us, we will face what one man calls “the kiss of yes.” That is, our people will smile and nod and agree with everything we say – and then behave as they always have, sabotaging the new plan. So how do we bring about change?


The proper procedure for implementing change in the church usually includes four specific actions.

Action Number One: The recognition of a need to change. Change will not be implemented unless there is a substantial degree of discontent with the status quo. We can bring this discontent to the surface in a variety of ways: by having a special study group in the church, by individual discussions with key leaders, by taking a group of our leaders to a church that has already successfully done what needs to be done in our church, or by developing a support group of new leaders who see the need for change.

Action Number Two: The development of a plan for change. A group needs to be formed that will develop a specific course of action to bring about the change. Lyle Schaller explains that ad hoc committees are usually more effective in implementing change than standing committees because ad hoc committees are limited by time and that tends to move them to action, and because standing committees have other items on their agenda.

Action Number Three: The enlistment of a support group for the proposed change. This can be done with open forums, with the presentation of materials explaining the change, or by the enlistment of key leaders who will personally approach individuals who seem to oppose the change. This enlistment of a support group is the most difficult but the most crucial step in implementing change.

Action Number Four: The approval of the change. Officially, this is done by the congregation for major changes. Actually, minor changes are often approved in practice by smaller groups within the congregation. When enough of these minor changes have received approval of enough of the smaller groups within the church, a change will be implemented before and in some cases without official approval of the congregation.

It is not enough just to know what needs to be done. We must also follow the proper procedure, for how we do it is as important as what we do.

Implementing change is never easy, but it is essential in today's world, for as Lyle Schaller put it: the number one issue facing institutions in America today is the need to initiate and implement change.