Most of us have a pocket, jar, or car ashtray full of loose pocket change. We collect it from our daily routines of life and we use it as needed or save it for Christmas, vacation, or rainy day fund. Change is also what politicians promise, and the weather man tells us is coming in the 5-day forecast. Change is a part of our lives on a regular basis.
Our bodies change, our circumstances change, and technology and progress change at a rapid place at our jobs, schools, and even in our homes. We gladly accept the new technology and change of tv’s, computers, cell phones, and appliances. We embrace the changes in culture as our fashion tastes change in clothing styles. We love the newer model vehicles we drive and the conveniences that change brings our lives.
One place we avoid change, dislike change, or get defensive about change is the one place that should set the standard for change and should change constantly: THE CHURCH.
Maybe because so much in the world changes, people want the church to stay the same? Or maybe people get so comfortable, nostalgic, or complacent in the church that when leadership brings about change because of the times, the culture, the need, or the circumstances people flip out, complain, get negative, or even extremes divide the church?
God never changes, He promises us that in His word (Hebrews 13:8), but His intent was never to keep the church the same. If you go back and read through the gospels of Jesus (Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John) or through the book of Acts as the church is established and spread, then you see that Jesus is all about freedom and change. If God wanted things to stay the same we would still be under the Law of Moses, Jesus never would have came to this earth, and the church as we know it never would have been established.
It is so easy for us as human beings to worship tradition, comfort, and “same ole, same ole” and over time it becomes doctrine, gospel, and the way it has to be. When in reality, it is the opposite of what God really wants for His church. He want His church to be relevant to its culture and surroundings. He wants the local church to impact its’ community with whatever programs, activities, events, and services will reach the most people, disciple the most members, and be the most effective. The goal of church is simple: reach lost people and make disciples while worshiping God and giving Him the glory. It’s hard to do that when you care more about what people are wearing to church, what type of songs we are singing, what times we are having church services, if we are keeping things the way they were when grandma when to church there, or if we are focused on things that simply are preferences or opinions and not essential to salvation or spiritual growth or health of the church.
Change isn’t always easy, but it is necessary. Change begins within, in our hearts. If we focus on the wrong things with the wrong attitudes then change will be difficult for you.
But the fact is, from the time we are born into this world, we begin to change until the day we die. We will always be ourselves, but our lives, bodies, attitudes, interests, and circumstances will be constantly changing. God will always be God, but His church will need to change its methods (not the message of God) on a regular basis if it’s going to make an impact or difference in this world for Him. If churches do not change, if they stay the same they become stale, lazy, self-centered, inward focused, irrelevant, ineffective, set in their ways, worshipping tradition instead of God, and slowly dying. They will have no vision, no mission, and no purpose, only to keep the doors open as long as they can. They are dead long before they stop having services. Is that the type of church God wanted to establish? I don’t think so. It’s time that we embrace change, accept change, encourage change, and support change, even when it makes us uncomfortable or we don’t understand it all. We should not let a person(s) willingness to not change hold us hostage from spreading the good news about Jesus and moving His church forward. Change is exactly what we need.
“Now the Lord is Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
II Corinthians 3:17 (NIV)