Om a recent article by Ed Stetzer for The Exchange, he talks about leading change in a church. He also discusses one of the mistakes many pastors make as they try to lead change: They start by taking on the bylaws. Ed writes:

“Quite often, when a church desires change, the first place the leadership looks is to the bylaws. I hear often, especially from younger pastors, 'If we want to change the direction of the church, we are going to have to first change the bylaws to create an environment for change.’

“No, you don’t have to…

“Bylaws are the worst place from which to take your leadership strategy, generally, because bylaws are created to keep things from happening. They are not created to make things happen. Their intent is to stop the wrong things from happening.

“Forward motion comes from a clearly communicated and skillfully executed strategy, vision, or mission. Assess your situation and move forward—don't think that changing the bylaws helps with that.

“If I may use a metaphor, bylaws are brakes on the car. They are not an engine. When you’ve come to the place where your bylaws are driving, you’ve stopped moving. You need the bylaws; don’t misunderstand. Don’t despise the bylaws, they are good things, but they don’t create motion, they slow it.

“Bylaws have a particular function. They set up a guard for missteps, because we will have them in our churches. Without them in place, we stand in grave danger of veering completely off mission. So that is their purpose—to keep us on mission by keeping us well organized.

“It is only when the bylaws become a hindrance to the mission that they should be changed—that that's not usually the problem in most churches.” (Click to read the full article.)

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