by Pastor Andrew
Change seems to be a six-letter bad word in the church today for some, but for others seems to be a breath of fresh air. Which is it? Is change in the church something to be avoided, or is it something to be welcomed with open arms? Although my time in service to the Lord has not been exceptionally extensive yet, I have experienced quite a bit of diversity during my tenure in ministry thus far. I have been blessed to sit under the teaching of several wise and experienced men of God. In addition to this, the Lord has seen fit to send what I consider to be strong, godly, people into my life to help guide me on my spiritual walk. I have also had the opportunity to be exposed to individuals who, although their intentions were good, did not exemplify the best ministerial role and became lessons consisting of things not to do in ministry, or life for that matter. The diversity I have been exposed to has offered me a glance at differing opinions of the subject of change. As our church is going through several changes during this particular season, I thought the first blog I would post would be best suited to discuss the idea of change.
Overall, I believe there is an aversion to change in the church. I believe that in this forum it goes without saying that change that is contrary to good order and biblical truth is not the change I am discussing, rather, the changes that break individual routines and habits. I am often asked about this and engage in conversations with individuals about change. After many such conversations and meditation on the subject, I have come to an understanding that aversion to change can be equated with a complacent sense of spirituality and an unwillingness to be taken out of one’s own comfort zone. The problem with this unwillingness to be uncomfortable is that it is contradictory to the Christian mission. In simplistic terms, our job as Christians is to reach people for Christ. Simpler than that, we are to identify with and follow the teachings of Christ. Looking at comfort from the perspective of comparing it to the life and teachings of Christ, we as Christians attempt to find our comfort in the wrong places. Being cozy and secure in our church buildings and weekly routines that revolve around our personal needs and desires was never spelled out in the Gospel.
While we seek to build our comfort in regularity and routine that satisfies the flesh, the enemy is hard at work, changing his tactics regularly for the purposes of counteracting the work that we are supposed to be doing in the world. Granted, we are not going to thwart every attempt the enemy makes on those we are supposed to be ministering to, nor is everyone going to end up in heaven; however, that does not give us the go ahead to stop trying. Ceasing the attempt to remain relevant, without compromising the gospel message or biblical truth, is not going to work in this day and age that is consumed by modern technology and extraordinary distractions. Continuing to operate three decades behind modern times is like entering a modern war with civil war aged weapons and tactics. The Bible is full of stories of change beginning in Genesis and continuing the theme all the way through Revelation. God changed entire societies and landscapes in order to ensure that His people were set apart and set up for success. When His people went the way of the world God sent messengers to emphasize a need for change. When the legalistic, corrupt reign of the Sanhedrin surpassed the righteous order that God established, He sent change in the form of Christ, to create a way for further change so that those who were willing to change could be restored to the Lord. With so much emphasis on change in the book that we call the basis of our faith, we sure do have a funny way of showing the world that we believe change is good.
It is time that we exit our comfort zone and get to changing so we can be effective at reaching a world that most certainly needs reaching (believers and non-believers alike). Jesus implied that there would be discomfort in following Him. Matthew 8:20 depicts Jesus telling someone who wanted to follow Him that He had no where to rest His head. While I am certain that many people can and will look at this verse differently, it appears to me as if Jesus is telling the individual that following Him will leave the man without the comforts that resided in the man’s heart. Paul’s missionary journeys, and ministry, was wrought with discomfort. In fact, 2 Corinthians 11:16-30 offers Paul’s own boasting of his suffering including being beaten and stoned for his work for Christ. I have a copy of this passage posted next to the door of my office so that I can be reminded as I leave the comfort of said office, that I have it pretty easy compared to the ministry of Paul. It is also easy to dismiss the idea of suffering in ministry because many Christians equate the word ministry with the title of Pastor. While this may be technically correct in the societal view of today, a believer should not neglect to remember that we are all called to ministry through the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).
I will wrap this up by mentioning with emphasis Romans 12:2: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” I do not think that it is too far a stretch to say that the world wants the church to remain stagnant and unchanged. Stagnant and unchanged does not resonate with today’s society. Stagnant and unchanged does not reach people for Christ who appeared in the Bible to be ever moving from place to place, ministering to the sinners of the world. Continuing to operate in a manner that was effective 10-30 years ago will not help us fulfill the Great Commission and I believe is conforming to the world, or the enemy’s plan. Allowing God to transform our minds and our hearts, using our creative nature that He created within each one of us, and using our gifts and abilities for the furtherance of an unchanging message is a change that I think is needed. A transformation that does not compromise the Gospel message, contradict biblical truth, draws people to Christ, and pushes us to become the hands and feet of Christ is a change that I believe God would be happy to see. It is past time to leave our comfort zones, give up what has made us complacent, be living examples of the teachings of Christ, and as uncomfortable as it makes us, share the Gospel message with those who we are supposed to be serving.