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At a recent conference I got a chance to ask Lyle Schaller, my favorite church-studies guru, a question that has long been bugging me: "Why is it that people accept change with such hesitation?"

"Let me suggest something that I think will answer your question," he said. "When you return home from this conference, sit at a different seat at the supper table."

"How do you know I sit in a specific seat?"

"Just try a different chair." He winked.

A few evenings later, I got to supper early enough to switch seats. My daughter Elise came into the kitchen, stopped, and stared at me. "What's wrong, Dad?"

Daughter Alison was right behind her. She took one look and protested, "Dad, that's my chair!"

I stayed put, and we have remained in the new arrangement. But this little experiment refreshed my memory: Change is hard. Hard for the church. Hard for me. If I am going to lead a congregation through the natural difficulty of change, it will take patience and a clear strategy that will make the process of ...

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