Traditionally the Church has been slow to change, even resistant to change. Yet, we’re living in a day when change is not only inevitable but necessary. The question isn’t “if” we change but “how” we change.
In a book first copyrighted back in 1998, Howard G. Hendricks wisely wrote something even more relevant for today:
Has your church outlived its usefulness? Will it still have something to contribute even five years from now? Only if it embraces change. For change is the ocean in which our society swims. As Charles Handy of London School of Economics has put it, we inhabit an age of discontinuity, a chaotic time in which the rate of change itself is accelerating rapidly. Is it possible for your church to survive, let alone thrive, amid such chaos? Absolutely! But it will require more than “business as usual.” Above all, it will require creativity – the ability to envision and embrace a new future. (Color Outside the Lines: A Revolutionary Approach to Creative Leadership – link goes to one of our affiliate stores).
When talking about our need to be creative as a Church, we must understand that creativity doesn’t have to translate into a humanistic, worldly pursuit. The fluidity, adaptability, and responsiveness we need does not have to convert into compromise.
Basics to Remember about the Church and Change
In God’s economy, the end does not justify the means. So, if we want to change in ways that glorify God and bring us out even better as a Church on the other side, then we need to follow these basics:
1) Distinguish between that which is negotiable and that which is non-negotiable.
While change may be necessary let’s remember that not everything changes. We still hold tight to our unchanging God and His absolute truth (Ps. 90:2; Isa. 40:8; Heb. 13:8; James 1:17).
2) Always turn to the Head of the Church (Eph. 1:22-23; 4:15-16; Col. 1:15-18) for wisdom and the steps to take.
The Church is still HIS Church so let’s keep praying about our situation and changes that need to be made. Now is not the time to be governed by circumstances, fears, the world, or even what other churches are doing. We can learn from others, but our Lord should always have the final word on what we do.
3) Don’t settle for becoming less of the Church than God intends for us to be.
Seek to make changes by His grace and power that maximize the potential for:
- aligning with His primary purpose for us to love God with all of who we are and to love others (Matt. 22:37-40)
- functioning in accordance with His design for the Church to be like a Body (1 Cor. 12)
- fulfilling His mission for us to go and make disciples (Matt. 28:18-20)
For more about change management in light of the basics of life in Christ, go to: TrainChurchLeaders Change Management Category