Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. He is deeply devoted to Christ and His Word, and he is passionate about church health and disciple-making. Prior to serving at LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. Rainer has written several books, including Who Moved My Pulpit?, which provided the inspiration behind the convention’s “Leading Change in the Church” event this coming March.
Rainer will be the keynote speaker at “Leading Change in the Church” at Calvary Baptist Church West Campus in Advance on March 7. He and more than two dozen church leaders will lead a day of equipping for those who want to see their church changed for God’s glory.
Rainer recently took some time to answer questions in advance of “Leading Change in the Church.”
Q: Why do we need a conference on leading change?
A: With nine out of 10 churches losing ground in their community, there is an absolute necessity for change in many churches today. There are few things harder in ministry than leading an established church through change.
Q: What are some typical failures of pastors who want to lead change?
A: There needs to be a sense of urgency that will create a desire for change among the members. If not, complacency sets in, and people don’t realize the need for change. When this happens, change never occurs.
Complacency of the members is not the only issue. Complacency of the staff can also hinder a pastor’s ability to lead change in a church. A pastor who is leading change must have the buy-in from the staff and key lay leaders to be effective. Also, the pastor must understand the proper pace of change that the church can handle.
Q: What keeps church members from embracing change?
A: The two main hindrances to embracing change are fear of taking the next step and sentimentality toward traditions. Change often means leaving one’s comfort zone. That can cause fear in church members, leading them to refuse change. Sentimentality often takes the form of sacred cows in churches. These sacred cows become more important to church members than changing in order to do what is necessary to reach new people or to better meet the needs of the community.
Q: In your book, you talk about building a coalition. Why is this step important, and why do many leaders overlook it?
A: You begin to find out who is on board with the coalition. They can be incredibly instrumental in moving others forward, as well. An eager coalition is important because you want your key leaders on board so that congregants have faith that the change is needed, is right and is necessary.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Visit leadingchange.church. Registration includes lunch and is $10 per person or $50 for your church staff.)