About a year after finishing a church relocation in Arkansas, I jumped into the middle of another relocation at LifeWay. Either I’m trying to relive the Exodus through my ministry, I have poor timing, or God is just messing with me.
Regardless, I have a few words of encouragement for leaders who are attempting to lead their ministry through either a relocation or a seismic change of any kind.
1. Accept Uncertainty
Timeline and budget projections are important, but they are, at best, educated guesses. Toward the beginning of our church relocation, I was fielding questions left and right with a copious amount of confidence. Eventually my guesses merited the stoning of a false prophet in the Old Testament.
My best advice is to embrace uncertainty with the innocence of a child. Learn to say, “I don’t know” without the biting hint of suggestion that you have been left in the dark.
2. Stretch Your Faith
Relocations will test your faith, so why not leverage that test into an opportunity for spiritual growth? Some days you may find your hand hovering over a panic button because of a frustrating setback in your staff, timetable, or budget.
Immediately turn this opportunity for panic into an opportunity for prayer.
Instead of hitting the panic button, hit your knees, and ask God for His favor on your life and ministry. Some of my best spiritual growth spurts happened during the Second Baptist Church (2BC) relocation, so I am asking God to use this LifeWay relocation to stretch my faith as well.
3. Don’t Commit Mutiny
Every church and organization has early, late, and never adopters. Whether saving millions on utilities or saving more souls, some people can only see the bottom line through a negative lens.
I am an early adopter who embraces change for a number of reasons: vision, curiosity, boredom. It’s easy for people like me to get frustrated with late and never adopters. Instead of demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit, I sometimes want to throw rotten fruit at those who are sowing seeds of discontent and discord.
I can rebuff your bad attitude with my own…and then some!
Before you commit mutiny, remember that you are called to be a servant…yeah, a slave. Put down your sword, pick up a basin of water and towel, and get back to work.
“Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23).
4. Embrace a Culture Of Change
Some organizations have a flexible dynamic. They are forward thinkers who are more than willing to do whatever it takes. LifeWay and 2BC are fun places to serve because they cultivate a culture of change.
While LifeWay is reducing its campus, 2BC expanded its campus—both for admirable reasons. LifeWay is selling its campus, while 2BC decided to repurpose our downtown campus into a ministry center that hosts a dozen ministries weekly. Although there are endless variations of relocation and change, one common thread to success is embracing a culture of change (a.k.a. culture of faith).
5. Be Grateful
I thank God for Dr. Rainer and his Executive Leadership Team, who are working harder behind the scenes than you probably realize. Our vice president of organizational development and relocation guide, Selma Wilson, is admirably overseeing several teams through both our consolidation and relocation phases. Would you join me in praying for them to continue to “shepherd you with knowledge and skill” (Jeremiah 3:15)?
Whether you are leading people through a corporate or church change, take time to consider how boring it would be to serve the Lord in an organization that has no vision. Take time during this season of change to thank God for the opportunity to be on this bus, regardless of how fast it goes or what seat you are in.