by Karen Hearl
Is your ministry to women changing? Is your church experiencing some kind of change in pastoral leadership, church membership, worship and teaching methods, demographics? What about you as a leader? Are you experiencing change? Change is continually occurring within and around us. It impacts our church and ministry culture. Change is a fact of life: life cycles, seasons, perspectives, communities, consumer goods, generations, governments, and churches. In the midst of change, however, God is faithful and true. He never changes, nor does His Word. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father … who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17 NIV
The challenge facing leadership is how to remain true to God’s Word and His message while meeting the short-term and long-term needs of those God has entrusted to our care. As a leader, you are a change agent. You are the catalyst that God can use to initiate, communicate, and implement change that will enhance ministry to women and by women in your local church setting.
What is the dream God is giving to you and your team? Are you willing to stretch the envelope, move out of your comfort zone, and step up to the plate? Are you willing to trust God for your future as a ministry? Risk is the operative word; faith is the motivator; vision is the dream set in motion.
Hans Finzel, in his creative leadership book, Change Is Like a Slinky, writes: “Dreams drive change. Without a hope for a better future, there is no need to change. In fact, those who resist change are the ones who are in love with the status quo. They thrive on the past more than envision the future. When a leader gets right down to being a change agent, it all begins with dreams. Leadership has to accept that change strategy is a fundamental building block to figure out where we would like to be.”
Casting vision and building a strategy as a team with prayer, focus, and energy gives new life to sagging and lagging traditional forms that have lost their vitality and meaning.
Yes, but how? Setting mission-related goals, with much prayer, a unified spirit, and a commitment to reaching women for Christ with the Good News, is set in the framework of effective communication. Developing good communication skills bridges the gap and invites others into the process of change. Don’t assume women know where you are going or what you are talking about. Creative communication involves one-to-one “dream catching.” Gathering events in which the vision is embraced and ownership is developed are essential for the process of change to occur. Each local ministry is unique. Don’t be afraid to try new things that will encourage, support, and motivate your women in the growth process. The goal is to become more like Jesus.
There are several stages in the change process. A few will be innovators of the change, eagerly embracing new ideas. A few more will work with the changes within a designed framework. More will come along when they understand the overall picture and ramifications Some will be reluctant and slow to adopt any change, and some will never accept the change, preferring to go back to the “old” ways. The team is best when made up of those who are willing to adopt and adapt, while trusting God for His purposes. It is a process of growth, first in the leader, next in the team, and then within the ministry.
Change is a good thing if it is encompassed with a right heart, a yielded heart, a committed heart, and a heart after God. Tools and resources are available to you through leadership training events for women, summits, conferences, and mentoring relationships. Don’t miss out on the future God has planned for you and your women. The door is open. And Jesus, the Chief Change Agent and Shepherd of our Souls, invites us to follow Him to a new future with new hope. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way.” Isaiah 43:18-19.
This article was originally published in the summer 2007 edition of Woman to Woman.
Before moving to California with her husband, Pastor Alan Hearl, Karen was a dear colleague and valued member of our Vision New England and by design leadership teams. Additionally, she had an enormous impact nationally within the Evangelical Covenant denomination and served in a variety of influential capacities. Her passion was to come alongside Women Ministry leaders in order to assist them in strategizing and developing a ministry designed for their unique setting. After a long battle with cancer, Karen went home to be with her Lord in 2013. Her legacy and impact lives on, however, in the hundreds of lives and churches she has influenced for Christ. “Well done, thou good and faithful servant!”