How People Adopt New Ideas Source: Chip Arn Copy right John P. Chandler, 2000
Leadership’s Initiative, Board’s Endorsement After leadership has received an idea, time must be allowed for people to endorse the idea Understanding these roles and timetables helps increase ownership of the idea People respond on different timetables “5 Kinds of Adopters”
Innovators The dreamers & visionaries in your church Regularly talk about the future rather than the past Not generally acknowledged as policy makers Many have the spiritual gift of “faith” “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit …” 1 Corinthians 12:8-9
Early Adopters Know a good idea when they see it Many have the spiritual gift of “wisdom” Opinions generally respected by others Influential in moving the church in new directions Often receive credit for ideas that are not really theirs
Middle Adopters Make up majority of the congregation Tend to react to ideas of others rather than generate their own Generally reasonable in their analysis of a new idea More easily influenced by those opposing change than by those supporting it Inclined to maintain status quo
Late Adopters Last ones in church to endorse a new idea In congregational & committee meetings, often speak/vote against proposed changes May never verbally acknowledge assent to new idea but will eventually go along if the majority agrees to support it
Never Adopters Seldom, if ever, accept new ideas Commitment is to status quo and the past Often sow discord after change is adopted Eventually will leave if they don’t get a following
Pause for a question In this room, how many are … Innovators? Early Adopters? Middle Adopters? Late Adopters? Never Adopters? Share in pairs, then group discussion
Innovators Early Adopters Middle Adopters Late Adopters Never Adopters 2%18% 60%18%2%
4 Implications of Bell Curve 1. Realize: not everyone will be happy. 2. Some members will leave. 3. The battle is for Middle Adopters. 4. Make Early Adopters your allies.
1. Realize that not all will be happy. Innovators are on a collision course with Never Adopters Early Adopters are frustrated by lack of vision by Late Adopters Middle Adopters may encourage this disagreement so they can consider both sides!
Is everybody happy?!? No. But … allow people to express diverse opinions on the front end of the discussion Or they will do so later at a less appropriate time!
2. Some members will leave. Don’t think that by avoiding controversy you will avoid loss of disenchanted members You’ll lose people even if you don’t change
Win the big games … The question: which dissatisfied members would you rather lose: Never Adopters or Innovators? Consolation: neither group likely to drop out of Kingdom life when leaving your congregation Visionaries to more progressive churches, stalwarts to more traditional ones
3. The battle is for Middle Adopters. Convincing this group is the key to change Remember, they generally prefer the known to the unknown But, they are usually normal people with normal fears Will tend to vote for status quo unless given good reason to change, or are assured that the change will not result in a loss of quality
4. Make Early Adopters your allies E.A.’s generally well respected in the church Innovators often are not Their words are given serious consideration and their leadership is generally followed
To enlist Early Adopters A). Make a list of who these people are B). Solicit their active support C). Ask them to endorse idea in formal meetings and informal discussions It is often in hallways, telephones, and “the meeting after the meeting” that persuasion happens! D). Let them know that their support may make the difference between success and failure
“What do we hope for?” Members Objective Innovators Early Adopters Middle Adopters Late Adopters Involvement Support Acceptance Tolerance
How People Adopt New Ideas Dr. John P. Chandler www.rasnet.org John.firstname.lastname@example.org Copy right John P. Chandler, 2000
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