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Change

“If we are to achieve results never before accomplished, we must expect to employ methods never before attempted.” – Sir Francis Bacon

There are some people who would tell you that I love change… That I change things just for the sake of change… That I like to change things just to prove they can be changed…

Don’t listen to them. They’re wrong.

I will admit that I am not afraid of change… That I’m not afraid to change… That I’m always analyzing, trying to determine if there are changes that will make the church more faithful and effective at carrying out its mission…

But I struggle with change as much as the next guy…

I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone who “loved” change… Some people take it more in stride, adapt to it more easily than others – but nobody really enjoys it.

I remember hearing James Ryle speak several years ago – in the margin of my little spiral notebook I wrote down what he said:

“Healthy things grow. Growing things change. Change challenges us. Challenges cause us to trust God. Trust leads to obedience. Obedience makes us healthy. And healthy things grow.”

Healthy things grow – and growing things change… The basic sign of life in any living thing is change. If we are not changing – we are dying.  Perry Noble was the first person I ever heard say, “Change or die.”

Change may stink, but the last time I checked dying stinks more.

For reasons I have never understood – church people in church world seem to lose their ever loving minds when it comes to change. Some thing can be changed at church – and people who haven’t seen or thought about that thing in six months will suddenly wail and moan – all because of change.

The funny thing is, those people trade cars every few years… They buy new living room furniture or paint their kitchens a different color – for no reason other than they need a little change. But move an artificial plant at church and those same people want to fight.

The reality is that from its earliest days – the church has faced nearly constant change…

  • In Acts, chapter 1 – there were only 120 people in the church, and it met in an upstairs room…
  • By the End of Acts 2, 3000 people have been added – 3120 if you’re counting…
  • At the beginning of Acts 4, 5000 more people are added, (8120, and btw – that’s just the men) and the church, having outgrown “upper room” size, begins to use part of the temple and meet in smaller groups in homes…
  • The end of Acts 4 – financial difficulties prompts a benevolence system of sharing and meeting needs to the huge congregation…
  • In Acts 6, volunteer led ministry means the leaders can focus on preaching and teaching instead of cooking and cleaning…
  • By Acts 8, public criticism leads to the first multi-site church and ignites mission work all over the known world…

Sometimes I wonder if people then complained like people do now… “I miss the upper room, why did we have to leave there anyway?”  “I don’t like meeting in the temple – I prefer meeting in homes.”  “I don’t like meeting in homes – why can’t we just meet in the temple?” “Peter or John used to bring me my meal – now some guy I don’t even know is bringing it.” “The church is too big – we can’t get to know everybody. We need to slow down on evangelism for awhile…”

The church is a living thing – and if it is to be a healthy and growing thing, the church must change. The message does not change – but the methods used to share that message must change, or the church will die.

Change stinks.  But it brings new life.  It brings fresh blood flow.  And without change, death is certain.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing…” Isaiah 43:18-19b

 

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Annette
    April 5, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Change is good!

  2. bp
    April 5, 2011 at 9:11 am

    nicely laid out and thoughtfully said. (love the verse)

  3. centralityofthegospel
    April 13, 2011 at 12:33 am
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