We’ve recently gone through some changes in our church. Changes that I’m quite excited about. Changes that I think are necessary to the sustainability of the church. And changes that better orient the willing workers with the needs of the people.
Change is always always hard. Few people like iOS 7. Petitions about Facebook changing its interface are rampant (ironically on Facebook itself). Restructuring at work is hard. And on and on.
Change in church is no different. In fact, it’s almost sacrilegious to change something about church. Dropping a ministry or a service, to some, is akin to giving in to the liberal theology/philosophy of the day. There’s a reason the sarcastic phrase, “We ain’t never done it that way before!” hits home for so many in the church – because there are always those who will resist change out of the simple fact that that’s the way we’ve always done it.
To be sure, an evaluation needs to be made as to whether the old system is indeed working. But what happens when it isn’t working well? What happens when the congregation no longer connects with a certain ministry? Should we redouble our efforts and pulpit-bully them into participation? Should we secretly judge them for lack of involvement? Should we throw up our hands and say the Pastor isn’t giving enough time, energy, and passion?
I struggle with this. I remember as a kid in the backseat of the family car on the way to Sunday evening church looking out the window of the car and seeing people going about their lives – even Christians! – and wondering why they were so callous to God that they would not go to church on a Sunday evening like I did. I’d probably even heard that kind of talk from the pulpit when the pastor was frustrated only 1/4 of the people showed up for the service. Maybe not so bluntly, but it was there.
I don’t mean to imply that people aren’t callous to God. They are. You are. I am. We all want our own thing. We don’t want to dedicate our time to Him. We’d rather do our own thing, watch TV, play a game. But that’s not the point. The point is the attitude. In the backseat of the car, looking out the window, I didn’t have an attitude of concern for the people I saw. I had an attitude of judgement. I thought I was better than them. I still struggle. I compare my involvement in the church to those of others and think I’m better than most. Make no mistake about it, this attitude is wrong. This attitude is not the gospel. And this attitude is telling God that I’m somehow worthy of His merit. And here’s the problem, I’m not. I’m not worthy of any merit. It is by his grace that I can somehow do a good thing here or there. Certainly it makes God smile when I do submit to Him, but it does not gain me a better standing before God. I am a sinner plain and clear. And for that, I the merit I receive should be death, but for Jesus’ sacrifice and reparation for my wrongs.
For many I think people are equating the ministries they grew up with as next to godliness. They become the kid in the back seat looking out the window judging people for not following God the right way. They see the changes in ministry as an affront to the cause of Christ and judge people for not continuing on with the old ministries.
But what I’ve been most impressed with lately is the number of people in our church who are going along with the change. It may not be the most comfortable thing to do, but so many people in our church see the need for the change and are just looking to support these new ministries in whatever way they can.