We recently had a remodel in our children’s ministry, space. The team had been in place longer than any children’s ministry team I’ve ever heard of. They loved each other and loved the kids.
In the remodel, the crew took years worth of posters off the wall. They covered murals that had been there since before any of the children in the class were born. The classrooms got state-of-the-art, and I mean art literally, magnetic chalkboard paint (I didn’t even know there was such a thing and can vouch that it smells terrible!).
Within a couple weeks, however, of the completion some of the staff was struggling. They felt left out. They didn’t really want all the upgrades. Some of the work they had previously done had been discounted. Finally, this all came to a head. They had a “summit” meeting and got the air cleared. Everything is now as good as it was or better.
After talking with the primary leader, here are some lessons she learned that I hope you won’t have to learn on your own!
A budget year was ending. The team recognized the window would quickly close on their funds. And, they wanted to disrupt the smallest number of Sundays, so the whole remodel took less than two weeks — from final plan to implementation. Everyone was consulted. But, the painters had to take down the posters and put them in a pile. The teachers found themselves scrambling to get their room workable in time to teach.
The primary takeaway is that speed kills. This same change, done over two months, would have been nothing but positive. Rational people take time to adjust to change and new routines. When we take time, we can bring them along. When we rush, they will rightly protest.
Over-reliance on Email
Because this change had to happen quickly, emails exploded. Everyone was kept in the loop with every email. The leaders discovered, that while the email was good for information, it wasn’t good for emotionally connecting with the change. Phone conversations or face-to-face meetings, though time intensive and emotionally exhausting, perhaps, would have been much better preparation for a change of this magnitude.
The first few days gave a hint that not all was well on the team. At first there were scattered sarcastic or snarky comments. A couple workers had talked with each other about their frustrations and let it leak to the leaders. It would blow over, the leaders thought to themselves. And, many times it does. It is not a bad strategy generally to let things run their course and see what happens. It became obvious, however, that something needed to be done when the teachers began to tell the kids about their frustrations. It affected the ministry then and a summit meeting was called.
Confrontation Is The Pathway to Peace
One of the hardest things to believe, for those new to Christian leadership, is that confrontation will actually resolve conflict. It feels like confrontation escalates conflict. And, for a short time, it does. It also says, “You are important to me and I cannot bear what has come between us.” That message combined with the forgiveness of Christ wins the day almost every time.