“If you want to make enemies, try to change something.” ~ Woodrow Wilson
“Making a big life change is scary. But, know what’s scarier? Regret.” ~ Unknown
(This is a reboot of and article from 2019. It has been modified for “such a time as this”)
Change is difficult. We all know this. I heard a sermon where the preacher said that being a pastor is a hard job because the pastor’s job is to get people to change, and most people naturally resist change. Yet change is part of life. We change schools, we change locations, we change hair styles, change jobs or careers, etc. Change is constant.
Any improvements we make in our life involves change. All growth creates change, and it often brings discomfort with it. Children experience “growing pains” as their bones develop. A tree often needs pruning in order to grow strong and produce healthy fruit. To grow a business it takes long hours and much sacrifice. All of this involves change.
Have you ever found yourself in a place or a situation when you came to the realization that something needs to change, and the way you’ve been doing something needs to take a different course if you want a different outcome? This is what churches in America are facing today. A majority of our traditional congregations have either plateaued or are declining, and younger generations are exiting our churches in mass. In response, churches need to evaluate their mission, vision, and methodologies, asking if there are fresher systems and philosophies that need to be implemented in order to address the needs of both the present and the future.
This is true for HCOG as well. Why don’t we operate like we did when the church opened in 1958? Because our community is vastly different than it was in 1958. Of course it is.
I believe that our church, like the majority of churches across our nation, is at a crossroads. As much as we try to avoid change, deep down we know that for our church to grow and/or improve certain changes need to be made. We cannot expect to do things “the way we’ve always done them” and expect growth. The challenge is to hear from the Lord to know hat changes need to be made, and when and how to make them.
How do you approach change? Consider the picture above. Look at Woody and Buzz’s face – which one do you identify with when contemplating change? Change does not have to be negative or scary. I understand that not all change is progress, but when God’s people are sincerely seeking the Lord’s guidance we know that the changes God makes will be for the good of His church. The changes may bring “growing pains”, but only for a short time. Ultimately, we know they are for good.
HCOG is a relatively healthy church. Our worship services are Spirit-led, and our fellowship is sweet. The folds at Hillside are the best people I’ve ever known. Yet our church family is growing in age and shrinking in numbers. We do not have a strong presence in our community, and we have not baptized a new believer in many years. This is not an indictment on the church; I am simply calling attention to reality, and these trends will continue if we are not willing to make some much-needed changes.
2002 will be a year of change for HCOG. We need to be seeking the Lord’s direction for the future of His church, which means being open to, and being willing to embrace change. This may mean a change in time, a change in budget, a change in priorities, even a change of plans. This may mean stepping out of what is comfortable and familiar in order to answer God’s call to a specific ministry.
If all we want to do is come to church to meet our own needs and desires, providing our own comfort, then very little change is necessary. But our culture is always changing, and with advances in technology, our culture is changing at a break-neck speed. If we want to reach a new generation for Christ, then we need to adapt, and that calls for change.
I am not always comfortable with change. But I know who God is, and that brings me great comfort. Therefore, let us seek the Lord and trust Him as He leads us forward. That is a change we can all embrace.
Your servant in Christ,