Ministries get paralyzed for many reasons. One of these reasons is perfectly predictable—and avoidable. It is the fear of the naysayer.

You’ve been there. You have a great idea, dream or vision for ministry. You know you can assemble the necessary ingredients to make it go. But then you feel vanquished by the looming naysayer. Mr. McCrotchety or Ms. Stickler is lurking in the shadows, ready to snarl a voice of doom and kill your initiative. Sometimes the very fear of McCrotchety or Stickler is enough to restrain you from even presenting your proposal.

Don’t buy it. If your dream is worthy, don’t allow these “devil’s advocates” (that term is often literally appropriate) to derail it. Don’t let the tiny minority deny the majority of your best inspiration. Guard against the damage of the McCrotchetys and the Sticklers with these principles:

1. Realize that naysayers will always lurk—regardless of the strength of new dreams. Even Jesus endured a naysayer among his 12 disciples. You’re in good company.
2. Especially expect naysayers when you propose something really significant. The bolder the initiative the more likely a change-resister will growl.
3. Many naysayers are bullies. They often get their way because their bluster intimidates the timid—even though the timid don’t agree with the bullies.
4. Naysayers’ influence can be tempered. Before presenting your ideas, prepare the ground. Speak personally with respected people in your church. Share your vision and ask them to speak up on your behalf. When they do, the naysayers and the timid ones will realize your vision has supporters. This dilutes the power of the bullies.
5. Present your idea with solid back-up information and stories. Persuade the logical people with facts. And persuade the feeling types with emotional stories.
6. Thank naysayers for their objections, then calmly present your positive views. Mention that new initiatives often have risks. God calls us to step out in faith, trusting in his faithfulness.
7. If the naysayers attempt to hijack the discussion, and you suspect they’re intimidating the timid, reserve the option to call for a secret ballot vote. This technique can return power to the silent majority.
8. Ask a respected and positive member to lead the group in prayer before a decision is made. Pray for God’s guidance, clarity of thought, and courage to do his work.

Make your great ideas come alive, survive and thrive. Respect the naysayers, but don’t let them derail the dream.