By Carey Nieuwhof
When leading change in your church, you will likely encounter opposition. That’s why you must choose a focus as a leader: who do you want to reach or who do you want to keep?
The Importance of Focus
Early in my ministry, God burdened me to reach those who need the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, many leaders pursue the opposite and focus on those they want to keep. We confuse loud with large and volume with velocity. These are the people who call and email with complaints and threaten to take their time, talents, and treasures elsewhere.
Most likely, these opponents make up less than 10% of your congregation. I think our responsibility as leaders is to focus on those whose voices we don’t hear, especially those who are unreached in our community. The surprising thing is that you will actually keep far more people than you think.
Two Questions to Consider
Over the years, I’ve found these questions are helpful to ensure our church stays focused on who we want to reach.
1. What’s more frightening to you: to lose a handful of people or to never have accomplished the mission that God has called you to accomplish?
What if your church could reach more people in your city? God has given you people, time and resources. Personally, I’d rather lie away at night wondering “Is there more I can do for the sake of the mission?” than worrying about an opponent who has threatened to leave our church.
2. Who would you rather lose: those who support your change or those opposed to it?
The reality is that you’re going to lose somebody. If you don’t lead change, then those who support your change are going to leave. I’m sure that you, like me, would rather lose the opponents. You can’t build the future of the church on opponents. Most likely, they don’t even have a vision for your church’s future. They just disagree with yours.
Let’s say your church has 100 people. If 10% of the people in your church are opposed to change, then you have 10 opponents. And if you choose to focus on this group, that means you are sacrificing the good of 90 other people for the sake of the 10 people opposed to change, let alone the hundreds, thousands, or more of unreached people in your community. Focusing on those you want to keep can tear apart your leadership and your ministry if you allow it to do so.
So what’s your focus: the people you want to reach or the people you want to keep?
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