Tough Decisions Made Through Transition

Transitions are tough because that means change is coming and it’s inevitable. Let me take you on a journey of some changes I’ve made so far at my church—River Valley Church:

We’ve simplified ministry. We are a large church and as a children’s ministry were trying to do too much. We have restructured what our weeks look like by almost entirely focusing on the weekends. Our weekend children’s ministry is floundering and instead of trying to focus on several things that are good, we’ve decided to focus on a few things and do them great. I’ll be more specific in a later post.

We are making sure what we do can be duplicated across all campuses. We are a multi-site church with five soon to be seven locations. There needs to be more cohesiveness throughout our campuses. This means we put more muscle and emphasis behind a few events, but still allow each campus to put on a couple campus-specific things. This also means we line up structurally.

We are changing formats of children’s and youth ministry to more effective. Instead of necessarily doing what we like to do, we are doing what needs to be done.

We are moving staff around on the bus and defining rolls. This isn’t easy and it’s one of the things I often do not look forward to because I know not everyone will be happy. In a perfect world, everyone smiles and says, “Absolutely! I’ll do whatever is needed!” The reality is that though they may show that on the outside, it can be disappointing if what I’m asking them to now do is not something they would choose to do. Leading through this can be tricky, but very possible. In the end, my heart isn’t to make people mad. Shuffling staff around is done because I believe it’s going to benefit our children and youth more in the end.

Some maybe asking why these decisions seem tough. They are tough because all these decisions involve people. Some of these people lead ministries that we’re cutting, lead groups of people that need to be replaced, require new roles that were never considered, etc. When people have a passion for what they’re doing, yet you don’t see that ministry or need in the church going forward—it’s not easy. It maybe the right decision to change things, but it doesn’t make it any easier. I don’t enjoy seeing people disappointed or frustrated with me, but leadership is all about making tough decisions and doing our best to lead people to see the benefit of our decisions.

Being the “new guy” brings two reactions to the team/church: excitement and skeptical

You’ll have those who are with you because they love change and believe in you. You will also have those who you need to prove yourself to thus they are skeptical until they see results. There is no getting around it.


1 comment

  1. I am enjoying reading you journey as you make the transition. I too went moved 2 years ago from a church that was only 1200 to my new church which is around 6000 now (at the time of the move we were 5000).

    I look forward to continuially comparing notes from what you are picking up that are the same lessons I learned, and reading new lessons that are different due to our different locations.

    The one lesson you picked up quicker than me was the simplification of ministry. I just met a few months ago with my pastor and told him I no longer want to do the typical out reaches but instead have 2 that we will stay with because of what it provides for our community and our church and instead pour the remaining outreach resources into our weekend and midweek services. He was completely behind the idea and said he has always thought that would be a better strategy.

    Thanks for going public with your journey.

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