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Leading Through Change in Your Church with Larry Wren

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Thanks for tuning in to this week’s podcast. We’re talking with Larry Wren, Executive Pastor at Pathway Church in the Witchita, Kansas area.

Pathway Church began in 1959 and has become one of the fastest growing churches in the country as they’ve shifted their focus over the last ten years to children’s ministry and reaching out to the community.

Larry is talking with us to talk about how to lead through change in your church.

  • A delicate balance. // The job of the pastor is to push the envelope – to challenge people to to the next level. This is the biggest part of leading change. At the same time you can’t lead so quickly that you leave the majority of people behind. Find that balance within your church between challenging people to a greater mission, and also making sure you don’t lead change too slowly.
  • Focus on the mission. // When leading change, always go back to: What’s the mission? Why are we here? What’s the great commission? What does that look like in our context? Challenge yourself to think more about why to do a certain thing rather than just the how and what. The why is much more motivating! Help people process through the why before you start unpacking the steps that will take you from point A to point B.
  • Tell stories of life change. // It’s critical to keep the why in front of your congregation as you lead through change. Pathway Church does this not only by weaving it into its preaching and teaching, but also by telling stories of life change. These stories remind us of how Jesus is still changing people’s lives and that’s why we do what we do.
  • Set the goals and initiatives. // With the why in mind, help your staff teams think through what goals and initiatives to focus on that will help you achieve your mission. Ask what is the most important thing that should happen in the next six months to a year? Examine each area of ministry and explore what their piece looks like to help them achieve their goals.
  • Over-communicate. // As you lead through change, remember it’s necessary to over-communicate. If you as a staff are getting sick of talking about something, it probably means your community is just starting to understand what you’re asking of them and what they need to do.
  • A new normal. // When we think of things returning to ‘normal’, that often means going back to the strategies and the ways we did things before the coronavirus. But in the future, our new normal is not going to be the same and we’ve got to go back to asking what is God’s mission in the world in this new season. We can become attached to the forms we have in place rather than the functions. And although it’s difficult, we have to grieve these endings and die to some of these old forms because they will need to change. As we look to the future, the focus always needs to be the why, not the what or the how.

You can learn more about Pathway Church at pathwaychurch.com.

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Thank You to This Episode’s Sponsor: Portable Church Industries

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.