Subtle shifts can often cause seismic changes.
A few subtle shifts in your blood acidic and alkaline levels can have dramatic effects to your health. A few subtle shifts to the earth’s orbit or axis could lead to drastic changes in climate and even life itself. Sometimes subtle shifts can bring big changes. Subtle changes to your kidney function can be life-altering. Small changes can have big consequences.
We made a subtle shift in our church this year. We made an agreement as a staff (and our elders), recently, that has changed everything about how we think about our people and our role. The small change has flipped our entire way of thinking, which has change our actions. We decided to quit using a certain statement. It has been one of the best changes we have ever made. If you would be willing to make the change, you might find the results the same. Here’s the statement:
“Our people won’t _________.”
We have refused to use this statement ever again. “Our people won’t: give, serve, invite, sing, attend faithfully, etc.” We will not say it. It is no longer permissible to use that phrase. It has been outlawed. It is a “four-letter” phrase at The Journey Church in Lebanon, TN. You may be thinking, “yeah, but what if they don’t do those things, is it not okay to acknowledge that?”
We don’t ignore our shortcomings as a church. We have not opted for putting our head in the sand and pretend things are great. Instead, we have changed the statement. Here is what we say now:
“We haven’t led our people to ________”
THIS statement changes everything. It is a subtle change. It is a change that flips the entire conversation. Instead of whining or moping over what our PEOPLE won’t do, it forces us to take responsibility for what WE, the leaders, have not led them to do.
When I quit griping about our people not giving, and begin seeing it as my job to lead them to give, it puts the responsibility on me. When I quit complaining that our people won’t invite anyone to church, and begin seeing it as my fault for not leading them to invite people, it forces me to grapple with my behaviors. This statement challenges me to be a better leader.
The first statement blames our people for what is not being done and makes us (the leaders) passive observers. The second statement makes the leadership accountable and ignites our thinking towards solution.
As a pastor, I will not let our staff or elders use the first statement any longer. We have removed it from our lexicon. It is unacceptable practice in our church’s culture. If everything rises and falls on leadership, then we must take responsibility for what is not happening.
How would this subtle shift change the culture of your church and your leadership teams? I believe it would bring increased responsibility and generate creative solutions for solving problems, instead of simply blaming others for them. We don’t stand idly by wishing people would behave differently. Leaders take responsibility and get things done.
Lets ban, “our people won’t” language, and start acting like pastors and leaders who take responsibility by saying, “we haven’t led our people.” The subtle shift will change everything.