A Simple Plan for Making Big Changes in a New Church


You’ve probably heard the old adage, “how does a new pastor move the organ from one side of the platform to the other? One inch at a time!” It sounds funny and even sounds true, but I disagree completely.

The sentiment behind the statement is that big changes can cause big harm to a church if they’re done too quickly, so it comes from a place of concern and not harm. However, in most cases, it’s just a repeated trope that’s been believed and passed on over time. What if big changes are necessary when they’re crucial, and they don’t have to be negative in any way?

Here’s a way a new pastor can quickly move big things successfully…

Build Trusting Relationships

Build trusting relationships quickly and intentionally with the church. It’s hard work, but important. Of all the things you can do as a new pastor, this is probably the most important one, and though a costly investment, will return the greatest rewards. And it sets up the next step.

  • Get in their homes.
  • Have meals together.
  • Play with their kids on the floor.
  • Pray for their deepest needs.
  • Build trusting relationships.

Dream Big Together

Within that plowed field of trust, call the church together to dream. Get out a whiteboard, and pray together. Ask them to pray big prayers, and dream big dreams about the harvest of souls this church will reach. Write it all down on the board. Talk about our God who is “able to do exceeding, abundantly above” all of these dreams.

Their dreams may look something like this…

  • Reach young couples
  • Make disciples
  • Add families with children to the church
  • Increase the number of baptisms
  • Build a youth group

Plan Big Together

Then tell them, “ok, we are here… we want to go there. What do we need to do tactically (and practically) for this to happen? How do we build a bridge from point A to point B?”

Here’s where the organ moving comes in.

You will likely already know many of the big changes that need to happen. Without telling them what those changes are, start leading them in conversations that will naturally arrive at those big moves.

Warning… don’t feel the need to be the brilliant guy with the answers… resist doing that. They aren’t expecting you to be the Genius Pastor, they’re needing you to lead them to be better. So instead of giving answers, let them be the owner of the ideas. Do you know what owners do? They care about the thing they gave birth to.

  • Someone might say, “well, if we’re going to reach young couples (from the dreams list), we probably need to redecorate this place so they will feel at home.”
  • Or, “Since we’re going to be winning families with children, maybe we should buy new equipment for the nursery!”
  • Or, “since we’re going to be winning souls, we need to replace the baptistery”.
  • Or, “Becuase we’re going to be reaching a younger generation, we’ll probably want to update some of our songs.”
  • Or, “because we want to reach new people, we should start building relationships with unsaved people and inviting them into our homes.”

Write all of those big moves on the whiteboard and circle them.

Move Big Together

Now, you can tell them, “What you all have done tonight is incredible… you just let God dictate a map to help us reach this city! I’m going to do everything in my power to help you make these dreams become a reality! Are you ready to do some big things together?”

Now, you don’t have to tiptoe around the platform, moving an organ an inch at a time. Instead, because you now have buy-in and ownership from the people you’re leading, you can help them grab the dolly and get that thing moved after the meeting!

What do you think? What’s been your experience moving the organ? I’d love to hear your experiences, good and bad, with making big moves for your ministry. Please feel free to reach out to me if you’d like to talk through any challenges you’re facing.