The Early Church dealt with a lot of change: following a risen and ascended Savior rather than One who walked among them here on earth, living in the Spirit, the bringing together of Jews and Gentiles who were described as having a “dividing wall of hostility” to form one Body, the Church — all new. Think through the adjustments they had to make, the challenges they faced, the breaking of old habits and traditions.
Of that Church we read, “All the believers were one in heart and mind. … With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.” (Acts 4:32-34) God’s grace was the power that helped them navigate the change from start to finish.
The Power of Grace at the Beginning of the Change Process
We too bring to the Church our own preferences, personalities, and backgrounds. The diversity within the Church comes with the potential of trouble to almost any kind of change we would make. We need a grace saturated environment wherein we can accept and love one another despite our differences. In that kind of atmosphere, we are more likely to accept change even if we don’t always agree with it.
When desiring to bring change, come to people on the basis on “grace and peace” that is already a part of your Body.
1) Grace to change comes as we look to God for help so any bent toward making changes begins with prayer.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Heb. 4:16)
2) Grace says each person matters. No one person is above the other. When this kind of environment exists, change is not about enforcing “my” agenda but doing that which is for the good of all.
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. (Rom. 12:3)
The Power of Grace Throughout the Change Process
In an atmosphere of grace, we are all on the same plain, saved by grace and in need of His grace to not only do our part but to do it in God-honoring ways.
1) For leaders to remain above reproach when implementing change they need to rely on God’s grace, not their own understanding or abilities.
Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace. (2 Cor. 1:12)
2) A grace-filled environment is one in which we realize that everybody potentially has something to offer to the process. One person doesn’t call all the shots or do all the work. The administration of God’s grace through a variety of people gifted in different ways can lead to a better result when implementing change than can happen through one person alone.
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. (Rom. 12:6)
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. (1 Pet. 4:10)
By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. (1 Cor. 3:10)
3) Grace enables us to handle the challenges we might face as change is implemented, including our own reactions. When confronted with limitations or temptations, we can fall back on His grace for the power we need to rise above.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Cor. 12:9)
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, (Titus 2:11-13)
4) When we feel like we can’t keep going, that we have nothing left to give, God’s grace gives us all we need to not only make it through the change process but to come out better on the other end.
Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. (Jn. 1:16)
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; (2 Cor. 9:8, NASB)
The Power of Grace at the Conclusion of the Change Process
After change has been implemented, its effects will still be felt or experienced. People will need to function within those changes. When the change process is completed people still need God’s grace to be with them. And, you will need to determine if adjustments should be made.
1) Ask God to give people the grace they need to follow through.
From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. (Acts 14:26)
2) Ask God to provide the grace to make the change a productive opportunity for the spiritual health and growth of His people.
Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. (Acts 20:32)