Recently I have been going through some interesting and at times stressful changes in my per’sonal life. Kim and I had to leave our last place of residence on somewhat short notice, at the fault of nobody, but sometimes these things just happen. We recently have started the venture of looking into purchasing a townhouse for us to call “home” as we are both tired of renting and giving others money to help pay their mortgage; thus, needless to say things in our lives our “changing”.
Some people who I have met are okay with change or at least are not against the idea. Others tho however are completely against the thought or the idea of anything changing even if perhaps for the better. That being said I need to look at myself, I feel I’m relatively open to change as long as it is within reason and is going to better those parties involved. I look at the last two and a half-year of ministry here at Liberty and with our ENCOUNTER students and think of how things have changed, some gradually and other changes happened quite suddenly.
What is it that frightens us or keeps us from embracing or embarking on change. I do understand that change may not always be a good thing and at times it can be frustrating and irritating; however, I do think that even when the change seems negative (and I say this at the risk of sounding like evey other Pastor and Leader out there) I believe there is overwhelming positive purpose in it. I personally believe that our willingness and ability to see the change in that light is totally dependent on our personal posture and perspective. We all know that their our some people who like to revel and rest in the turmoil, they have it on their face and it goes with them everywhere they go with their underlying hope that someone will give them attention or ask the truly sought after question, “Is everything okay?”
This whole piece leads me to thinking about the church and I pose the question “Is everything okay?” is the church as we know it in trouble and is it because it knows that it has to change and is resisting and neglecting to do so? I don’t think it’s that simple but I think perhaps pieces might be true. Is it possible that over our years of “doing” church we have forgotten a few of the key characteristics and fundamentals that make us “The Church” thus making this less about “doing” and more about “being”. I read in Acts the following which to me challenges me and has caused Kim and I to lead the students here at Liberty the way we do.
With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. – ACTS 2:40-47
Somehow we got away from the previous. I hear the phrase constantly in Christian church circles about how great and amazing the “Good Ol’ Days” were. Usually this stance is followed with a breakdown of the things that once were seen, sought, and sung. I don’t mind the walk down memory lane and remembering the great things God has done for his kids over the years, but I do think it’s wrong to set up camp and rest there thinking that unless is packaged the same it won’t happen again. We serve the most creative, imaginative, and brilliant being that this world knows and will ever know. We continue to quote how God never changes and how is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore…But we don’t seem to live that truth out, or at least our actions communicate otherwise.
Here’s my final thought on “change”. If we look at Coke and Pepsi, two very successful comapnies that have withstood the test of time and have been very purposeful and diligent in doing whatver they needed to in order to distribute, inform, and advertise their product. They are not using the same commercials that the did back in the “Good Ol’ Days”, their packaging has changed, their modes and methods of distribution have drastically changed, everything about these companies is different from the way they once were years ago. Here’s what’s also been key in their unparalleled success, Coke and Pepsi have held to several non-negotiables, that being their name, their colours, and the logo (barring a few minor changes here and there). I think that the church can learn from such models. We don’t have to keep doign things they way we have always done them, changes can be made as like as the don’t contradict scripture and align with the local churches purpose and vision then I say “GO FOR IT”. My personal philosophy is that we must stay true to what sets us apart, our colours of sorts if you will, but the way that we package or present our product is totally dependent on our location (cultural setting), vision/purpose, and target audience. Accountability is clearly crucial as in the past we have all heard stories of how in some peoples quest to become “relevent” they have moved from being the influencers to the ones influenced. I don’t feel in any way that we as Believers are required to take on the appreance of those who don’t believe yet, but that there are more affective ways in which we can communicate our message.
Recently I was told of how the President and CEO of Coke communicated his vision. He simply stated that he would like for everyone around the world to at least have the oppertunity to drink one can of Coke in their lifetime. I don’t think it would be wrong for the church to adopt the same vision with replacing the Coke can for Christ…I might even see it myself as Biblical!