Getting Others to Do What They Know They Ought to Do

find fixesThrough a flood of sermons and classes and articles, preachers and elders inform people what they should do. They need to “win their friends to Christ.” Encourage each other by visiting. We need teachers–what about you?

It is clear people in the pew know what they should do. So why don’t they do it? That’s the question that scratches many a church leader’s head.

How do you get people to do what they know they should do, but resist doing?

First, change your thinking. We think of people as rational, logical, thinking human beings. Once they know the what, they can figure it out. But that’s misguided.

Everyone is also driven by emotions like fear, anxiety, and desire for staying comfortable. Chip and Dan Heath pictured this condition as a rider on an elephant. While the rider was on top of the 2 ton beast, he was going wherever the elephant decided. The rider is our rational mind. The elephant is our emotional side. If the elephant in us is jumpy, we will resist any action, regardless of how right it seems.

The second thing church leaders must do is “script the moves.” Take the anxiety out of the situation. When people know specifically what to do, they can usually do it. If they must come up with their own plan, they will spend elegant time thinking and no time doing.

You get the “elephant” to move with specific, concrete, doable steps. Here’s an example.

I wanted to get church leaders to visit people in need. The accusation was they were distant and did not care about needs f the people. Neither charge was accurate. But their rider said, “we need to do more visiting.” Their elephant says, “but I don’t know what to do.”

So, I laid out a plan to help them. (Notice, I decided lecturing was not an option. They needed help, not a wagging finger of shame!)

I called two men and gave them these instructions:

  • Would you visit three people with me on Tuesday night? (Notice, I told them how many we were going to visit and one what night.) I would like for us to spend no more than 15 minutes per household. (I limited their exposure.)
  • Since those we will visit have specific problems (having surgery, a son who was dying, etc.) I ask if they could simply lead a prayer on behalf of these people when we get there. (I told them specifically what they were to do.) I will drive. (That keeps them from having to get directions or worry about traffic.)
  • I will meet you at the church building at 7, and we will be finished no later than 8:30. (I provided them a specific time frame.) I then asked, “would you do that?” (I need to give them a chance to tell me no.)

The result was neither objected and were delighted. At the end of the night, they said, “we need to do more of this.”

What happened? I provided them a specific and definite path to take. They did not have to decide whom to visit, what to do when they got there, when they needed to leave, what night to do the visiting, or the time which was convenient.

For most problems in the church, people already know what they need to do. But they don’t have a well-paved road to do what they need to do. Script the moves and pave the way and most can do it.

(If you congregation needs such a method for evangelism, see our training series Personal Evangelism Training. It provides complete, specific tools so anyone could teach a friend or neighbor in a non-threatening, low-stress method.)

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