“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
Question: How many Church of God pastors does it take to change a light bulb?
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, go away to college, move out of our parent’s house, and change jobs or careers. If we want to make any improvements in our life, then we need to change.
And growth needs change, and growth often causes some pain. For a tree to grow strong and produce healthy fruit some branches need to be cut off or pruned. Our children cry when their legs hurt as their bones develop and help them grow. To grow a business takes long hours and much sacrifice. All of this involves change.
When God needed his people to make some necessary changes He told them:
- Isaiah 42:9 – “See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.”
- Isaiah 43:18-19 – “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”
God was constantly trying to transform the Israelites to become His holy people, and that needed constant change.
Change is also inevitable in the life of a church family. We know this to be true. We do not operate like we did in 1959 because our community is vastly different than it was in 1959. As much as we try to avoid change, we know that for churches to grow and/or improve certain changes need to be made. The challenge is to hear from the Lord to know who, what, when, and how.
How do you approach change? Consider the picture above – do you approach change like Woody or Buzz? 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 change may be painful for a short time, but ultimately we know it for good.
I say this because our church family is growing in age and shrinking in numbers, and if we are not willing to make some changes then this trend is going to continue. We spent most of 2018 discussing change, recognizing that HCOG is at a crossroads, and unless we are willing to make some fundamental changes in our approach to church and ministry then we will continue to dwindle.
I do not believe this is God’s plan for His church. Instead, we need to be seeking the Lord’s direction for the future of our 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 for 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 break-neck speeds. 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 in Him as He leads us forward. That is a change we can all embrace.
Your servant in Christ,