This scenario has probably happened to you. It could have happened at home, or at work, God forbid even at your church. You come up with this idea in your mind that has come down right from the very mountain where all great ideas come. You may even go so far as to think this one may have been inspired by God himself. You are excited; you are pumped you can’t wait to tell the proper people who of course will agree with you right away that this idea has the very fingerprint of God on it, so you run to the next meeting all prepared. You have flowcharts and timelines. You have already gathered a faithful few volunteers. You have a start date, and you looked at the organization’s budget, and there is seed money already allocated for just such a project and then it happens you run face first full steam into the Status Quo wall. Ouch! You get hit with a myriad of questions and reasons why that idea won’t work. Questions like, “How is that going to work here, we have never tried that before?” Or the classic stall move, “This is a magnificent idea since Jim(is just a convenient scapegoat, it would be whatever name of the person who missed that meeting) is out of town let’s table this until the next meeting. Maybe you get the dreaded diversion where you are sent on board by board approval goose chase until the idea dies in committee. I have seen this practice kills not only good ideas but also kill new potential leader’s spirit. So how do you get a new idea implemented? This blog post will give you a few practical ideas.
For that last ten years, I have been a certified ministry coach. When people get to the point of trying to implement change in their organization, here are some questions I have them work through. These are adapted from Coaching 101: Discover the Power of Coaching by Robert Logan. I pray you will find this helpful.
How will you free up time and energy to focus on the changes you need to make your congregation more missional.
To take on some new project in your already over-taxed life, you have to let something go. So the question you need to answer first is if this imperative to what are you willing to let go if to make sure this new idea gets your full time and energy.
Who are the key people who can work with you to facilitate the changes that need to be made?
No man or woman is an island. So who are the key individuals who can provide the skills you lack to make the changes necessary to accomplish this new venture? For example, if you are the idea person, but not great with details which do you know that is good with details which can provide that critical element needed to implement your idea.
Who are the key influencers who need to embrace the vision or/be included in the discussion/planning process?
In every organization, there are those people who wield powerful influence. You need to invest time getting buy-in from those individuals who can either help your idea take off or kill it.
What permission’s need to be secured and from whom?
Who needs to sign off on the idea? That could be trustees, Board of Director’s, or the organizational leader, but whoever it is secure their approval.
Who are the people/groups affected by the proposed changes?
Regardless of the size or scope of the change, it affects the lives and functions of some individual or group. Take the time to figure out what groups or persons affected by the proposed change and give them a heads up on what changes are coming. Gather their input and suggestions on the most effect to make that change as smooth as possible. This will also give you an opportunity to see if there is a better way to implement those changes.
What can you do to help people embrace the change? How will you strengthen relationships during the change process?
These two questions address emotional intelligence. How through this change will you protect the valuable asset of people. Relationships will be strained in any transition so how will you address and protect people’s hurt feelings during this process. How you manage these critical relationships will determine if the changes are ones that help the organization adapt needed improvements or does just lead the idea person to find a new challenge in a different location.
This change process may seem like a lot to go through just for an idea, but then I would push back how important is the idea becoming a reality to you? If you honestly think this idea needs wings and a chance to fly then take the necessary steps to see it through. And after much prayer and planning, you still feel it needs to be implemented, then no matter what don’t give up don’t ever give up. Too many great ideas have died because the idea person gave up. If it is from God, be ready for the strong opposition because that idea will threaten Satan’s stronghold. Keep fighting, keep praying and see what God does. We need those dreamers in our organization, in our families and life. Keep the dreams coming.
Michael Yaconelli articulates this powerful story in his book, Messy Spirituality—God’s Annoying Love for Imperfect People. Chronicled during World War II, he recounts the actions of a group of soldiers and one old priest in the rural countryside of France:
“During an intense battle, one of the American soldiers was killed. His comrades did not want to leave his body on the battlefield and decided to give him a Christian burial. They remembered a church a few miles behind the front lines whose grounds included a small cemetery surrounded by a white fence. After receiving permission to take their friend’s body to the cemetery, they set out for the church arriving just before sunset.
“A priest, his bent-over back and frail body betraying his many years, responded to their knocking. His face, deeply wrinkled and tan, was the home to fierce eyes that flashed wisdom and passion. Our friend was killed in battle,’ they blurted out, ‘and we wanted to give him a church burial.’
“Apparently the priest understood what they were asking, although he spoke in very broken English. ‘I’m sorry,’ he said, ‘but we can only bury those of the same faith here.’ Weary after many months of war, the soldiers simply turned to walk away. ‘But,’ the old priest called after them, ‘you can bury him outside the fence.’
“Cynical and exhausted, the soldiers dug a grave and buried their friend just outside the white fence. They finished after nightfall. They next morning, the entire unit was ordered to move on, and the group raced back to the little church for one final good-bye to their friend. When they arrived, they couldn’t find the gravesite. Tired and confused, they knocked on the door of the church. They asked the old priest if he knew where they had buried their friend. ‘It was dark last night and we were exhausted. We must have been disoriented.’
“A smile flashed across the old priest’s face. ‘After you left last night, I could not sleep, so I went outside early this morning and I moved the fence.’”
Isn’t that truly the power of God’s grace through Christ’s death and resurrection? Jesus through taking our sin upon himself on Calvary’s cross changed the rules of the game. Those who were at one time outside the fence now are included in God’s plan of salvation. The Apostle John in one of the most famous verses in all the world says it so eloquently, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” God showers on the world that would reject his love grace upon grace through his Son, Jesus Christ. Who moved the fence? Jesus did. Why did he move the fence? Because of his love for the world. How did move the fence? By taking on himself the sins of the entire world. And what does that mean for us? If we believe in him we will not perish but live life eternal reunited with the Creator. I am so glad he moved that fence and included me in his kingdom.
Recording Artist, Author, and Abuse Survivor Advocate
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