Using the biblical account of the people of Israel’s exodus from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land as our guiding analogy, we are considering the pace of the Israelites’ journey alongside our own congregations’ journeys toward God’s intended destination for us.
First, we looked at the Early Adopters—those at the front of the pack who eagerly embraced change.
Next, we looked at the largest group in the change journey, the Mid Adopters, or those who usually need to see evidence of successful change before moving forward on the change journey.
Late Adoptersoften cannot see how they will benefit from the change, and they won’t enthusiastically embrace the change until they feel they are being left behind.
Finally, there will be some Non-Adopters—people who choose not to go with us. For Moses, there were people who wanted to go back to Egypt or choose another leader and another destination. Sadly, such a choice usually meant death in the desert.
When it comes to change, some people won’t go with us into the new direction. They will either slow their participation, pulling back from previous levels of involvement or they may leave the church altogether. A pastor should be prepared for the potential of loss when changes occur, but he or she can limit the size of this last group with patience, understanding, and a listening ear. If change is managed carefully, we can usually keep non-Adopters to about 5% of the people.
Keep in mind that Moses led a journey toward an amazing Promised Land, punctuated with remarkable miracles and a cloud that symbolized God’s daily presence and direction—and even he had people who wanted to return to the slavery of Egypt!
The point here is to avoid mislabeling those who don’t respond to the first opportunities to embrace change. Most will embark on the change journey, however slowly, if they are treated with respect and understanding. Remember, our goal is not just to reach our intended destination, but to do so together.
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