HOW TO COMMUNICATE CHANGE
1. Communicate a respect for the people’s traditions, culture, and appreciation for its leaders.
Express your desire to see that the people receive the maximum benefits both in the short range and the long range. Benefits should include not only monetary, but physical, emotional, spiritual, and relational ones.
2. Communicate how the innovation will meet a genuine felt need of the people. Demonstrate how the change will meet some immediate needs as well as holding promise for long term needs. Distinguish between needs and wants. Some people may want to own a new Peugot 504 Sedan, but they may only need assistance for transporting their goods to the market.
3. Communicate in ways that fit with the existing cultural patterns. Offering to start a new continuing education program will not work unless you show the people how that program is similar to something they have seen before. For example, by providing a contextualized marketable skill, many people will be eager to listen to your teaching.
4. Communicate in simple ways that do not force the people to learn a new of doing a familiar activity. Do not require a major shift in the roles of men, women, or youth. Allow for the people to adjust to their own roles, responsibilities, and identities. One young Pastor who failed to understand this was hopelessly disgraced and dismissed from a potentially influential position. His lack of patience caused him to lose a chance of determining the course of direction in his area for years to come.
5. Communicate slow changes that do not require abrupt disruptions of people’s security. Avoid causing undue emotional damage in your changes. Most people would rather avoid the risk of changing cultural patterns. Help them gradually ease into the changes that the scripture advocates.
6. Change should be introduced through communication systems that are respected by the people. Even though many people watch TV does not mean that it is respected by the people. However, introducing changes through a respected Pastor, governmental official, or local authority may produce far greater results. It is for this reason that the more personal you can make your communication, the better. Try to enforce the indigenous communication system as a facilitative device for the truths of the scripture.
7. Allow those who use the change to communicate their benefits to others. The strongest advocates for a change are those who have tried it and found success. Grant opportunities for testimonies to be given to the deliverance from the powers of darkness that people have experienced through Christ. Spotlight key people who have been healed through the prayers of your elders. Share answers to prayer of those who have demonstrated faith and seen results.
8. Communicate through smaller changes that will gradually reduce obstacles to change over a long period of time. Expect more resistance for changes that require deeper cultural value innovations. Do not grow discouraged if your attempts to communicate change do not bring sudden results. It is easy to see changes made when it does not affect the deeper beliefs of the people like learning to ride in a taxi. However, when you are teaching about the people’s need to accept Christ as their Savior, this is a radical decision that requires a putting away of idols to serve a living and true God as the Thessalonians did. People will resist vigorously changes that challenge their basic cultural values. People fear losing values that give them their identity, positions, and power.
9. Communicate that changes will not be imposed by outsiders. The best changes will be advocated, implemented, and modified by insiders.The acceptable innovation harmonizes with the fundamental values of the key people in the area.
Illustration: When Nigeria built 200 bore holes in the north most politicians thought it would work wonderfully, but it failed. The leaders did not consider the Fulani value systems. Fulanis will often dig into dried up river streams to water their cattle when necessary. However, when the bore holes were locked, at certain times of the year, to preserve it for the crucial dry season, the Fulanis became angry. Many of the pumps were broken off because the cattle herders had grown used to getting water whenever they wanted it. Now their dependencies on the bore holes made them lose control of their ability to water their cattle when they wanted. Now many have returned to their wandering patterns of finding water wherever it is available. The outsiders brought in new standards for the use and maintenance of a well so the local people will rebelled.
10. Communicate change through people who have prestige in their own societies.
Choose people who are active, respected, moral, socially connected, and Godly to express innovation. What is said is not nearly as important as WHO says it.
11. Communicate the ongoing processes of change through the local leadership. Established leaders have the luxury of modifying the new ideas that they learn from conferences or continuing education. With demonstrations, discussions, and persuasive arguments they can assure that the new churches that are started continue to grow in qualitative and quantitative measures.
12. Avoid suspicion through continual communication.
Illustration: Preventative chats with the key change agents will avert many crises down the road. By keeping people updated on the progress, struggles, and movements of the change people are more apt to stay motivated for change. Whenever I dropped into chat with fellow faculty members at our seminary in Nigeria, I found that a few minutes chatting on a friendly level accomplished more in communicative changes than 6 hours meeting with 12 faculty assembled in a formal board meeting. Realize the more personal your communication the less suspicion will be created and the more successful your changes will be.
13. Be careful that too much communication could fan the fires of suspicion if done in excess.
The invention of satellite radio and TV has assisted the speed of communication to every corner of the world.
Illustration: Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait caught the world’s attention in living color immediately. Daily reports described details of the U.N. conferences, mediators talks, and flights of the hostages to freedom.
14. Communicate how one change will bring about the need to substitute the replacement with something better.
Illustration: For example, when elders resisted the starting of English sections in all vernacular churches in northern Nigeria the elderly Pastor feared they would lose their big offerings. However, when we substituted a separate offering with a joint one, both the English and vernacular sections surpassed their previous combined totals within months. Do not take something away without providing a better replacement.
15. Communicate through locally acceptable and also popular channels.
Illustration: For example, when the missionaries insisted that the converts in Burundi quit drinking banana beer the people lost much of their social contacts. Beer had traditionally served to refresh those who had labored long on their hot farms. Beer provided for great social conversation and information sharing opportunities. However, the missionaries tried to introduced coffee, but it failed. The ban on beer caused many people to leave their Christian commitments. It contributed to the missionaries frustration and the stifling of the growth of the church in Burundi. Find suitable channels, like minerals, that can substitute for the prestige, dignity, and popularity of harmful practices in a society. (Smith p. 78)
16. Communicate power through parallel blessing ceremonies.
Illustration: In one tribe in Nigeria, the people insisted that all the girls come out for a blessing of fertility from the river god. Nearly all the girls in the area came out to have their bodies blessed because they were afraid of being infertile. Pastors arranged for a parallel Church blessing for the girls before their marriage. The few girls who demonstrated great faith in opting for the church’s blessing and refusing to attend the river god ceremony, all were blessed with a child within a year of marriage. God used their faith as a testimony against the fears projected by a demonic practice.
17. Communicate spiritual, moral, emotional, physical, educational, cultural, psychological, and economic changes in that order. Most others changes will grow out of the spiritual changes in the people. The seed of the Spirit of God will produce faith, hope, love, increase knowledge, greater wisdom, and motivation for the other kinds of change.
18. Reduce the stress of your changes by communicating the peace that comes through prayer and praise. When social difficulties occur people can avert a riot when they are taught to prayer and praise God about every anxiety, worry, fret, or disturbance. This will enable cooler heads to prevail.
The Holy Spirit will fill their hearts with the soothing medicine of His healing, comfort, joy, and assurances that they are in solidly in line with God’s will. This happened when a great earthquake shook Mexico City and many people were afraid it was God’s vengeance on evangelical Christians. Prayer groups were formed and God brought restoration, comfort, and social support from all over the world.
19. Never limit your communication of change to just one audience. You must be willing to go where the people are at. Travel to various areas, offices, schools, churches, and regions where people can see that you are interested in them on their turf. Speak to the officials, farmers, office clerks, and educators about your ideas. Mamser, a Social Mobilization Program in Nigeria enables their spokesmen to travel to nearly every area in the nation promoting its message of social cooperation in the construction of roads, hospitals, schools, and literacy programs.
20. Choose communicators who have buoyant personalities and successful experiences in change. Groups often respond initially to people’s personalities more than issues. One’s persona communicates volumes through a bright outlook, positive attitudes, and solid conviction about the advantages of the programs. Be careful that you screen these personalities carefully before you commission them to trumpet your messages.
21. Research an audience’s needs, context, and problems before communicating change.
For example, if you know the historic problems that people have faced, you can move through a problem-solution message format to describe how the changes will help solve their problems. One Pastor researched the people’s struggles with a local government official. He quickly visited a friendly commissioner who had influence over the local official. Soon the villagers were enjoying all the amenities of everyone else in their area.
22. Appeal to the real change agents in your organization who will most effectively bring about change.
23. Be sure that your motives for change are not only selfish, but will honor Christ and help fulfill God’s will.
24. Make people aware that the sins of omitting change can be more serious than the sins of trying to make a change by faith. Psa. 66:18, Jm.4:17 which says, ``For the one what the right thing to do and fails to do it to him it is sin.’’
25. Follow the six steps of change,
A. Establish relationships.
B. Diagnose the problem.
C. Acquire relevant resources and people.
D. Choose a solution.
E. Gain acceptance of the solutions
F. Stabilize the changes.
26. Get your change made permanent by writing them down into policy form. This can become a part of your constitution, student handbook, church manual, or mission manual etc.
27. Recognize the importance of multi-varied roles in the change process:
A). Need informer B). Solution giver C). Resource linker D). Process helper E). Consensus taker F). Questioner G). Systems designer H). Supportive specialist I). Persuader J). Project Implementor K). Catalyst L). Elaborator M). Clarifier N). Orienter O). Summarizer P). Consensus taker Q). Recorder R). Initiator S). Gate-keeper T). Information gather and giver U). Evaluator V). Paraphraser W). Policy Maker X). Harmonizer Y). Team Consultant Z). Results Oriented Implementor AA). Goal-Setter BB). Leader CC). Specialists DD). Designer