“God, consume these idle sticks in my life, that I may burn up for Thee” (Jim Elliot).
What is this unpronounceable word? It’s the fear of change. This fear grips every institution, but especially that of smaller (and older) churches. When life around us is changing every second it seems, many find churches as a preservation of simpler days gone by, a place of safety and security.
During our deacons meeting last night here at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, we talked about why so many fear change, and also the type of change that takes place in their place of employment. For them, change is almost expected—it’s a part of their culture. They know that their methods must change as the eras change, even if the basics of their company have remained the same. (For instance, IBM has changed since it’s inception in 1914, but they still exist to help make businesses more effective.)
Here are some principles that came out of that meeting.
- Change is never easy, but is always constant and always necessary. The older the institution, the more difficult to change. Truth be told, change will happen whether we do something or do nothing.
- We need to distinguish between the non-negotiables and the negotiables when it comes to the life of the church. We do not compromise the Scriptures and what they teach about the Trinity, salvation, the church, the devil, etc. Yet times of services, specific ministries and other items that are not expressly outlined in Scripture are up for negotiation.
- Change occurs when churches are open to the problems as well as the possibilities which move ahead. We cannot be blind to the problems, but deal honestly with them in a spirit of prayer. And in that spirit of prayer we will see the Lord in His solutions—after all, is it not His church (Matthew 16:18)?
- We must balance looking to the past, present, and future.
- The past: history, legacy, seasoned citizens.
- The present: examining the strengths and weakness, looking at ways to improve methods without changing the message.
- The future: we must never take for granted that Boone’s Creek will continue on.
- We must recognize what needs to change first: self.