NOT BABY STEPS, TAKE GIANT LEAPS!

From pages 95 and 96 of "Adapt to Thrive" Abingdon Press 2014

The conventional wisdom for a new, incoming pastor is "Do not change anything in the first year. Learn all you can about the operating culture of the local church and its history before you arrive. Go into the situation and get to know the people. Let the people know you care. Then, after a year, maybe two, you can implement some modest changes, but always remember, take baby steps, go slow." This tenet needs adaptation. Here are some ways that problems may emerge when pastors follow that established pattern;

1. after one year of no changes, to initiate healthy, adaptive cultural behaviors may be a shock to the system. The people may have already "settled in" with you. They may be comfortable with no changes and happy you have not brought any.

2. It will be more difficult to initiate changes after that first honeymoon year. If the pastor buys into the current culture of working hard to keep the congregation happy (that first year) then to change at the beginning of the second or third year makes the pastor's first year relationship-building work seem disingenuous.

3. In a sustaining culture of taking baby steps, the people may be happy but there is no sense of urgency or passion for the one true purpose of the Christian Church (to make disciples of Jesus for the transformation of the world).

4. The church no longer has the luxury of baby steps. Critical mass and financial support can decline precipitously over two to three years (of waiting). For most churches the adaptive change needs to begin yesterday!

Be bold! Set a vision in alignment with the stated Christian purpose! No more baby steps! Make disciples! Love the people while taking giant leaps.