top of page

The Importance of Change

“Don’t change for the sake of change.”

I’ve heard that mantra for years in ministry work.


But I don’t believe it anymore.


In a recent survey of 4,809 churches sponsored by the Lily Endowment Foundation, some unsurprising and confirming trends about age came out. From only 2020 to 2023, the average age of senior church leaders increased from 57 to 59, while the number of church attendees over age 65 increased from 33% to 36%. In mainline Protestant churches, over half of the attendees were over 65.


Likewise, attendees under 35 decreased from 37% to 33% over the same period.


Also unsurprising?—churches were unwilling “to change to meet new challenges” after the pandemic, even though there was interest to do so when the pandemic first began. The study revealed that “this important indicator of adaptation and innovation has been trending downward both in terms of overall agreement and the percentage of churches strongly agreeing with this statement.”


The research study continued: “This is especially troubling because this measure indicated a greater inclination in 2021 post-pandemic churches to do what was necessary to adapt compared to pre-pandemic responses, with nearly 50% strongly agreeing to that attitude. But by 2023, both the total congregations in agreement and those strongly in agreement had dropped significantly and are now below where they were in early 2020.”


Bottom line: “…this finding seems to indicate that their earlier flexibility and creativity in response to the pandemic is beginning to diminish.”


At the Elemental Group, one of the four primary traits we measure for church health and effectiveness is “Imagination”—the capacity to change and flexibility to innovate. Change is a muscle that must be exercised or it will atrophy, becoming more and more unable to adapt to rapidly changing environments. Without some infusion of periodic change, organizations settle into status quo.


What if “change for the sake of change” is actually a critical component for exercising the muscle? An organization’s current inability to change is indicative that there never was a culture of innovation—in other words, that vital muscle was never exercised enough.


At some point, the resistance to change had been codified. And not just codified, but unable to change: the muscle has fully atrophied and lost its ability to function.



Dave Workman | The Elemental Group


In need of change? The Elemental Churches Inventory guides your leadership team through a multi-faceted review of strengths and opportunities in four vital elements of your church’s life: Integrity (systems, processes, infrastructure), Passion (commitment to the mission), Servanthood (outward-focus), and Imagination (innovation, openness to change). And because of its unique web-based and curriculum approach, it’s a third of the cost of typical consulting?


  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
bottom of page