DTS Magazine

Building Support for Change

One of the clear measures of leadership is the ability to secure a commitment to the vision strong enough that people are willing to give their time, energy, and resources to see the vision realized. Develop a critical mass of support for the change.

Some helpful actions in building support include the following:

  • Communicate twice as much as you think is necessary.

Communicate the vision clearly and passionately so that people can understand it and will be excited about seeing it fulfilled. Clear, frequent communication will help alleviate a crucial source of resistance- uncertainty about the future.

  • Model your own commitment to the changes required to fulfill the vision.

This relates to the issue of trust. When asked to commit themselves, their time, their resources, people will follow only those leaders in whom they have a high degree of trust. One of the most important ways that a leader builds that trust is to demonstrate his or her own commitment to the vision. This was at the heart of Peter’s exhortation to the elders when he called upon them to be examples to those in the church (1Peter 5.1-3). Trust in the leader builds the confidence that diminishes the insecurity associated with change.

  • Build a team.

Team building for change starts with those who are asked to be a part of the visioning team. These visioning team members, respected as they are in the congregation, need to be the first “sponsors” of the change. Beyond the initial visioning team, recruit other respected and influential people to join together to advance the vision. Ask yourself, “Whose help is critical to have in order for us to realize the vision?”

Concerning the visioning team, develop a group of a size to enable reasonable representation of the congregation while still enabling discussion and decision making. Members of the group must be highly respected by the congregation and in touch with a sizeable segment of the congregation. The goal is not to try to blend every group’s views into the result, but it is critical to be aware of the various groups in the church as the process develops.

 As sponsors, team members will sanction change, letting others know that the change is important enough to justify the initial difficulty it will bring. Sponsors legitimatize the change.

Any worthwhile vision will require great, focused effort over a long period of time. Team members will add their unique gifts and strengths to the process and be able to share the load and encourage each other for the long haul.

  • Celebrate every success that helps fulfill the vision.

Celebrate or recognize with approval every action that helps make progress toward fulfilling the vision. Give public commendation as progress is made; celebrate all “wins,” big and small; have public celebrations when goals are achieved; express personal appreciation to those who work to fulfill the vision.

This post is based on a portion of Andrew Seidel’s work Charting A Bold Course: Training Leaders for 21st Century Ministry. For more information on this title and for many other leadership resources, visit our Resource Center today!

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