Change

Depending on your age and station in life, change can be either a dirty word or one that invigorates your soul.  The former operate from an "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality while the latter often want to see wholesale house cleanings take place.  Is change good or bad, or have we defined it into the ground?

Well, it all depends...

Sometimes the need for change is urgent.  Citizens of countries who are ruled by oppressive regimes that thwart all human rights often beg for the chance for change to happen.  Other times it's not quite so rational.  Crazed fans will burn the head coach in effigy if he loses more than one game in a row, shouting for his removal.  Every four years we hear presidential hopefuls beat the drums for change, our televisions filled with endless commercials explaining why change is so necessary.  Sometimes it's as simple as needing to change a ketchup-stained shirt.  Change can be good, change can be bad, and change can happen just for the sake of an individual wanting to make personal changes that are important to them (i.e., new haircut, clothes, hobby, etc.).

One thing that I think we can all agree upon is that change is inevitable.  Nothing lasts forever.  As cute as I think my kids are, they are growing up right in front of me and the changes are obvious.  Change cannot be stopped.  So we can choose to either roll with it and use it to our advantage or we can fight it, kicking and screaming to the bitter end.

Churches often operate this way.

Now I know that not all churches are like this.  Look around and you'll see lots of progressive and "hip" churches popping up everywhere.  It seems that anybody with skinny jeans, horn-rimmed glasses, and a faux hawk is qualified for the pulpit.  And truth be told, much of the resistance to change comes from those who oppose this new look that seems to be threatening the established church.  But I believe that this is a weak cop out that masks a deeper issue in many churches.  It's not that churches are afraid that they'll be taken over by some young gun emerging pastor.  No, churches are afraid of what God wants to do in and through them.

Sunday morning has become the most comfortable time of the week for Christians (if you don't believe me, look around church next Sunday morning during worship and see how many are nodding off).  We feel safe in our pews and padded chairs.  Pastors can challenge us all day from the pulpit to live for Christ "outside the walls" and to "get out of the box", and we'll be quick to shout "Amen!" and nod in agreement, but for us to truly follow through on these admonitions means that we would have to make some pretty drastic personal changes.  That's too hard for most of us, so we begin to look for others who will do the work so that we can "claim" it as a church without actually having to break a sweat or get our hands dirty.

The results of this are sad.  Churches are dying.  They are no longer viewed as relevant because, quite frankly, they aren't.  Members are shaking their heads wondering why people aren't joining, so they come up with another program or event on the church grounds in hopes of drawing new people in, but all they wind up doing is feeding themselves from the same plate of leftover stale ideas.  The reality that they might actually have to leave their church campuses to engage those in our culture is an idea that makes sense, but first let's try one more barbecue supper or host another weekend event...

Change for the sake of change isn't the answer either.  Churches who are being faithful to proclaim and live the gospel needn't adopt some new trendy strategy that has worked in other churches just because other churches have had success with said strategy.  Change in the church is all about necessity - the need for Jesus to be made more famous in our local communities and in our world; the need for our neighbors to know that Christ is our everything; the need for our resources to be used to accomplish the church's true purpose and not simply another costly event that might bring in a few visitors. 

Change can be hard.  Reality can be even tougher.


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