You've probably heard this phrase or something like it in your role as a church administrator. You're raising concerns about an ineffective event, and you hear that familiar pushback.

While most people would agree we want to use our resources effectively, they balk when that means not doing their favorite event.

Here are three ways to respond to a reluctance to change:

1. Find out why they're resistant

Let's say a fall ministry event your church hosted for years hasn't had much participation recently. It's probably time to stop doing that event, but there are a few folks who are unhappy about that suggestion.

Instead of giving up or forcing the issue, go talk with them.

  • Why do they feel that event is important?
  • Who does that event impact, in their view?

Maybe her son decided to follow Christ at that event. Maybe he met his wife or had a life-changing moment at that event.

That certainly indicates an emotional attachment. It's not really about the event — it’s about what that event represents.

2. Offer an alternative

Is there another event or ministry program those who loved the original event could easily fit into?

If you cancel an event without finding another avenue for connection for those who did connect with it, they'll continue to resist the change. Instead, see if you can direct them to something else to which they can warm up. Even better, ask them to lead part of the planning efforts for that event or otherwise be part of the team.

It's difficult to resist an event you've played a role in making happen.

3. Explain why you're making this change

When people understand the reasoning behind your decision, they're more likely to come around. This doesn't guarantee they'll be fully supportive, but providing an explanation can help.

"We've seen a significant decrease in the number of attendees at this event, despite our best efforts to promote participation. We want to be excellent stewards of the resources God has provided our church, so we need to stop doing an event that's no longer effective in reaching people and making disciples."

Making any significant change can create friction within a church. However, by listening to people's concerns, empathizing with their attachment to an event and helping them understand why change is necessary, you have a good opportunity to implement change and gain widespread support.