Resistance is futile
I am not a trekkie. They are a rare and special tribe of people. Maybe you are one, or you live in the same house as one. A trekkie? Someone who is more than a little obsessed with the TV series, Star Trek.
Star Trek has one famous line that is known even by us trekkie ignorants:
'Resistance is Futile'
The question is:
Is it true?
Resistance is the word given to that which slows you down, to opposition or disagreement or pressure. Resistance can be frustrating, demoralising and depressing... but is it futile?
I would like to suggest that while it is uncomfortable, resistance is necessary. Resistance tells us that change is in the air.
Where change is, there we will find resistance. So, if we want our ministry with children to grow and develop than resistance is to be expected. It's how we know we are moving. If there is no resistance it may well mean we are at a stand still.
So, if you are facing resistance then ask,
"Where is change happening?"
We here at Scripture Union have noticed that change is happening. The buzz word at the moment is 'Intergenerational' - bringing the generations back together. Churches all around Aotearoa, New Zealand are recognising that it is good for us to do life and faith together, from birth through to old age. But it is not without it's challenges.
- People are busy so we don't want to put any more expectations on them.
- We tried running shared lunches after church but hardly anyone came.
- What about the sermon? We must have a sermon.
- We don't want chaos.
- Children need to learn to sit still and listen, just like we did when we were young.
- The children and their parents are much happier with a fun, interactive children's programme designed just for them.
- We don't have the people to run an intergenerational church service.
"Why am I getting resistance?"
Whenever there is change there will be resistance. The key question to ask is why? Why am I getting resistance? Here are a couple of reasons to ponder:
1. The first reason you may be getting resistance is because of fear of the unknown. Are the changes risky? Do people feel like they are going to lose something important to them? If this is the case then we may need to provide people with more information. They need to know where we are moving to and why. They need to know that it is worth the risk.
We have noticed that when it comes to an intergenerational model of church, people often need to see what it looks like in practice before they are ready to embrace it. They think chaos and children's songs and upset older people. The reality is that, when done well, an intergenerational church will be one where all people grow in their faith and in their relationships with each other. We have seen several church leadership teams change their minds about an intergeneration model of church service after participating in one. They get to see people of all ages deepening their faith, enjoying their time together and meeting with God. There is a buzz in the air!
2. It may be for an historical reason. The resistance may be coming from people who have been around long enough to have seen other changes brought in that went badly, that hurt people, that caused damage. Maybe they simply don't trust that you know what you are doing. They need to know that you have a plan and that you are willing to take the time to do things properly. They need to know you care about them and you are not about not pushing your agenda over the top of people.
Listen carefully because behind the resistance may well be some genuine concerns and suggestions. Those who oppose us may be the keys to moving forward. They may point out where the weakness of our plans lie and help us to strengthen them. And if you can involve them in the process, you are much more likely to succeed.
Why is this change necessary?
That is a very important question to ask. We have to know that the changes we want to make have good reason to be made. Do you believe in your cause?
For us here at Scripture Union, we strongly believe in the need to bring the generations back together. This is not simply a theoretical idea, but is based in research and anecdotal evidence. Children, young people and adults are leaving the church. The evidence suggests they feel disconnected. For this reason, we are certain that change is necessary.
How about you? What changes are you trying to make? Are they necessary? If you firmly believe so then:
- Talk to others. Gather around you others with the same passion and determination.
- Tell your story over and over and over again. Remember that people are motivated to change because of stories not facts. They may need the facts, but they will be motivated by story. For us this means telling the stories of young people who have left the church as well as young people who have stayed connected.
- Connect with people's hearts not simply their minds. Speak with passion and emotion! If you believe it, go for it!
- 'What's in it for me?' While people may not say it outloud, this question underlies a lot of the decisions we make. Am I going to gain or lose? Think about how you can communicate to people the good things that will come out of the changes you are making. If it is an intergenerational approach to church life, talk about the great benefits this approach has for all ages. There are plenty of stories out there to share.
Is resistance futile? NO!
No, it is useful. So, embrace the resistance and learn to see it as a positive part of change.
May the force be with you! (Opps, I always get my Star Trek and Star Wars slogans mixed up!).
The basis for this article came from http://allthingsitsm.com/resistance-to-change-it-can-be-a-good-thing/