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The question that sparks effective change

| by Ben Marshall

Recently, while walking through the church building, colleagues and I talked about areas where clutter had begun to accumulate. We came across a random table that did not fit. The question was asked, “Do we need this?” The answer was, “So-and-so donated it. As long as she is alive, we will keep it.” (Even though it was located in a back room where this person would probably never venture and wouldn’t know whether or not we still had it).

Doing what we’ve always done by sticking with tradition or being careful not to hurt someone’s feelings can lead to a lack of innovation and proclivity against change.

“Why” is the hardest question to ask in an established organization, especially a church. Once this question is asked, more questions are sparked. This could ultimately lead to doing things differently moving forward. That’s not easy to do in many organizations. A lot of programs, funding and emotions ride on the response, “We’ve always done it this way.”

We must be willing to ask the “why” questions: 

  • Why do we do this? 
  • Why do we have this? 
  • Why do we do this in that way?

Questions lead to innovation and change.

As leaders in organizations, we should be on the leading edge of asking good questions. It may create uncomfortable conversations, but on the other side of discomfort, we tend to come to some sort of breakthrough. 

Start with why

We need to ask these questions of our organization’s current practices and programs because they may reveal how we aren’t following the true “Why” of our organization.

In other words, sometimes asking “Why do we have this program?” can reveal that the program doesn’t line up with the “Why do we exist as an organization?” question. Sometimes our purpose and our practice are at odds with one another, and we need to be willing to ask difficult questions that lead toward greater effectiveness and purpose.

But, we can’t stop at why. We have to take it one step further.

Let the answer drive toward action

Asking the hard questions is the first step, but then the answers that follow require action. An organization can’t be on the cutting edge, leading the way, developing greater effectiveness and adherence to purpose, if it is unwilling to ask tough questions and deal with hard answers.

Sometimes we need to break from tradition for the purpose of progress and growth. Sometimes we need to do a better job of developing a course of action when we discover that something we are doing is not only ineffective, but also damaging to the overall purpose and existence of our organization.

Next steps:

What hard questions do you need to ask about your organization?

Which leaders can you involve in asking and answering those difficult questions?

What action steps can you take based on the answers you received?

Photo source: istock 


Ben Marshall

Ben Marshall is a Pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Holland, Michigan. He oversees youth and young adults as well as serving as a campus pastor in a multi-site church. He is actively engaged in the social media platforms and website communication at Calvary. He is a blogger, guitar player, and sports enthusiast. Ben currently resides in Holland with his wife Connie and their daughter.



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Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2 (NIV)
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