Pursuing Strategic Change

How can a church and her leaders begin to improve the care they provide in light of the hindrances that were mentioned in the previous post? There is much that can be said, but let me highlight a few.

1. Recognize that there are two groups of people in local churches, each with a different need.

  • The first group is made up of people who need a vision for inter-personal ministry that emerges from Scripture. Begin with the positive things God is doing in the church. All churches have strengths and weaknesses. My previous posts are full of passages that cast this kind of vision.
  • The second group is made up of people who already grasp the vision, but are afraid to get involved because they need to be equipped. The have bought the vision of  helping others, but actually helping someone may terrify them. 

2. Begin to think of the various groups that need to be taught and equipped. Assess and strategize for each group. Change in the local church is often slow, so give yourself time. Think in terms of years, not months. Here are a few different groups that you will want to consider.

  • Employed Pastoral staff
  • Non-employed leadership (elders/deacons)
  • Key Lay-Leaders: 
  • Small Group Leaders
  • Other Ministry Leaders: Sunday school teachers, worship, evangelism, mercy, missions, men’s ministry, women’s ministry, youth group leaders.
  • Every Member: parents, children, teenagers, married couples, elderly, and all friendships
  • Professional counselors, physicians and psychiatrists in your church and broader community

3. Utilize existing structures as much as possible. You want to avoid the impression that you are starting another program. Most churches are already busy.

  • Pulpit 
  • A new members’ class
  • Officer training
  • Leadership meetings
  • Scheduled committee meetings
  • Mentoring

This post is simply to help you get a sense of the big picture. For a more detailed explanation of this concept, feel free to download and read the chapter entitled “One Church’s Story” from the book How People Change. *

How People Change Chapter 16 DownloadOne Church's Story



Copyright © 2013 Tim Lane. All rights reserved.

*This article is adapted from How People Change, Copyright©2006 by Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp. Used by permission of New Growth Press and may not be reproduced and/or distributed without prior written permission of New Growth Press.


Tim Lane

Dr. Timothy S. Lane is the President of the Institute for Pastoral Care and has a counseling practice in Fayetteville, GA. He is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), having been ordained in 1991 and a member of Metro-Atlanta Presbytery. Tim has authored Living Without Worry: How to Replace Anxiety with Peace, and co-authored How People Change and Relationships: A Mess Worth Making. He has written several mini-books including PTSD, Forgiving Others, Sex Before Marriage, Family Feuds, Conflict, and Freedom From Guilt.

He has experience in both campus ministry (University of Georgia, 1984-1987) and pastoral ministry where he served as a pastor in Clemson, SC from 1991 until 2001. Beginning in 2001 until 2013, he served as a counselor and faculty at a counseling organization  in Philadelphia, PA. Beginning in 2007, he served as its Executive Director until 2013.

In 2014, Tim and his family re-located to his home state, Georgia, where he formed the non profit ministry the Institute for Pastoral Care. His primary desire and commitment is to help pastors and leaders create or improve their ability to care for the people who attend their churches. For more information about this aspect of Tim's work, please visit the section of this site for the Institute for Pastoral Care. He continues to write, speak and travel both nationally and internationally. Tim is adjunct professor of practical theology at several seminaries where he teaches about pastoral care in the local church.