Is it too late to suggest a New Year's resolution? If I had my wish, each and every church would commit to the resolution of creating a culture of appreciation.

Coaches and church leaders often have the same goal – to help people create internal or organizational change. That is certainly true for one church I was working with recently. They had been trying to implement certain changes for years, with no luck.

Through the group coaching process, what showed up for them was that they were doing all the right things on the outside, but not doing anything to address people's internal resistance to change.

One of the reasons that change is threatening is that it can send a message that what you're doing or who you are isn't good enough, or isn't working.

If you want to help people embrace change, you need to first embrace them. Show them they are appreciated for who they are now and what they're already doing. Acknowledge their current efforts, before you suggest any new approach.

Over time, these methods will shift the culture from the inside out, to one where people feel like you see and honor the greatness in them.

This leadership strategy is contrary to the typical Christian response, "I'll get my acknowledgement in Heaven." It actually surprises me how ingrained this attitude still is in the church. And yet if we want to engage the people we are trying to draw into the church or bring back to the church, addressing this need for affirmation is crucial.

In the business world, leaders are going back to the basics, being re-trained in elementary social skills such as saying "please" and "thank you." Companies are putting the time, money and effort into this for the simple reason that it works to engage, motivate and retain employees – and that makes a huge different to the bottom line.

Those niceties will make a difference to the bottom line in your church, also. Being acknowledged feels good. And people will keep coming back to the place where they feel good.

Author's Bio: 

J. Val Hastings, MCC is the founder and president of Coaching4Clergy, which empowers today’s spiritual leaders through coaching, consulting and coach training. Did you know that 6 out of 10 churches will close over the next 10 years? Visit and for the information, resources and services that will help you ensure a sustainable future for your congregation.