Change of leadership at the top of an organization does not always guarantee the kind of change required to bring a group to its full potential. Every new leader will at some point make structural or personnel changes in hopes of implementing a new direction. None of these will have any lasting impact unless something deeper takes place first, something at the spiritual core of a group’s identity and calling. These deeper changes take more time and investment. They involve prophetic reflection and honest engagement with unpopular conversations. They don’t produce immediate and visible results a new leader may desire to affirm they were the right choice to take a group in a new direction or recapture lost vision.
We too frequently roll out surface changes and ask people to attach their hope for a new future to those adjustments. They become only a familiar repeat of what transpired in the past under previous leaders now dressed with new trappings and language. Nothing really changes. After experiencing several of these rollouts and not seeing a real course correction, people can become cynical and hopeless. When this happens, good people may retreat and disconnect. It is in that place of disconnect many will meet God in a new way, a way not thought possible when chasing yet another promise of a new vision. God never wastes human failure. He is always redeeming.
In times of retreat, people will come to realize change at the top of anything – a business, a local church, or a faith movement – is less powerful than change at a personal and grassroots level where the Lord is personally encountered.
In the political world, there is a phrase “All politics is local.” I think someone in the realm of political science might have stolen that concept from a wise Church leader somewhere in the past. All faith is local. While we do have a global mandate to disciple all nations, the expression of our faith is best worked out in a community of faith at a local level. The development of our faith is sourced from the energy of personal relationships and interactions with people, not institutions or their promises. It is at this deeper level that the greatest advancements of God’s Kingdom take place. This is where wise Spirit-led leaders will invest their time, energy, and resources.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Garris Elkins