What is the solution to leading unleadable people?

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Jonathan Charles's picture

The example in the article states that the pastor was at his church "less than four years" and found the people still resisting change.  I took a church like what is described in the article, back in 1998.  It was constituted of mostly older people, the church had just come out of the American Baptist Convention, its organization was very bureaucratic (for a church of about 75, we had about 20 committees).  Such a church isn't going to change drastically in four years, but I have been here 16 and the change is dramatic.  Young pastors are often in too much of a hurry.  After four years at my present church, I was still the "new pastor."  If a young pastor goes in willing to stay 15 years, the church will change.  But if he wants to breeze in, move quickly, make his mark and move onto a bigger church, then he will undoubtedly find the people immovable. 

dcbii's picture


I would suggest that a new pastor that wants to start new initiatives should start with expository messages on the scriptures he is using for justification for wanting change, then explain why the church should change given what the scritpure is saying, speak to individual members and get *them* to answer questions on what changes might be necessary, and only then introduce an "initiative."  Even when that is done, he and the other elders (and even the deacons who will be helping to carry out the change) should be prepared to answer a lot of questions about the reasons for the change as well as the ramifications.  In other words, get the congregation behind the *need* for change and then convince them to be a part of that change, rather than just springing it on them.

Too often, tradition is the only reason that things are done.  However, traditions also usually come from a need to do something in a particular way at a particular time, and over time they become a reason in and of themselves rather than being an outgrowth  and application of scripture.  When those traditions are no longer appropriate, changing them should be explained, not just done.  And yes, even if this is done, it may take longer to effect change than is hoped by the new pastor.  That's where the patience mentioned in the article comes into play.

If a new pastor comes in and expects obedience when he acts like a dictator, he should expect a lot of resistance.  Members are to obey those in authority, but pastors are also not supposed to be lording their authority over the flock.  Further, a new pastor should not only accept but desire a Berean attitude among the believers.  Many don't want this, however.  With those types of believers, persuasion will go much further to accomplish the desired goals than commanding from on high.

Many times thinking that people are "unleadable" comes from seeing the flock only as those that need milk, rather than realizing many can handle meat and are the true disciples who want to rightly divide the word of truth rather than just have it handed to them as pre-digested pablum.

Dave Barnhart