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19 Jul '13

Change resistance in the church: It can be chronological age but it can also be related to how long one has been in the church

Pastors often assume that change resistance in a local congregation is a matter of chronological age: those who are older are more change resistant. This is not always true. Some of the most progressive change advocates are older - more a matter of outlook and wiring than it is age. 

There is another age to consider, however. It is the age of a church and how long one has attended. It is not unusual for younger adults who have grown up in a church to be the ones who resist change because it messes with the church they knew in Junior and senor high and their entire experience there.

Ironically in one church I attended, the two most change resistant folks to the point of all out warfare was a gal in her forties who had grown up in the church and her father in law who had helped start the church years before. In both cases the resistance came from individuals who didn't want anyone messing with "their" church but age had little or nothing to do with their positions. The age of the church did and their longevity in the church did.

In charting a change course it is critical to pay attention to the concerns and potential responses of even younger generations who have grown up in the congregation - especially those who have influence like the young lady above who was a power broker in the church. It is often how long someone has been in the congregation that make more difference than their chronological age.