Sunday, June 8, 2008

What's On Your List?

In the course of our church's 144 year long existence, we have successfully navigated change and growth through the Great Depression, war, and significant cultural shifts. It has been part of our congregation's DNA to plan for the future, and maintain strong, multi generational ministry that is respectful of the past, but eagerly anticipating what God will do next.

Still, change can, undeniably, be hard. Even small changes (new hymnals, altered worship order, different people on the platform leading worship), can feel unsettling. Perhaps it depends on your personality, but you may sometimes be wondering if everything you know and are familiar with is going to go away, leaving you to feel like a stranger in the place you have long looked to as a refuge.

To give this some perspective, how much of what we do at church is just exactly like what you experienced as a child? Some things may be very much the same. Some things, like the use of technology, have changed dramatically, I'm sure.

For me personally, the things I wouldn't want see change are: solid Biblical preaching and teaching, being part of a congregation that sings enthusiastically, and deep friendships. Other things that I like very much could probably go away without traumatizing me, but these things I would miss terribly if I lost them.

You probably have your own list. I hope you will keep it short, though, because we really don't know what the Holy Spirit will want to do with our church as we move further into the millennium . We only know that it is not God's will that a church should die, or lose it's power to bear fruit. Thankfully, so far, He has kept us growing, singing, and learning for His glory.

"In any difficult issue Gil Rendle said, automatically about 20% of people in the organization are for doing things differently. About 20% will never be in favor of doing things differently. That leaves over half the people of the organization who stand a chance of changing their opinion on the matter. "A pastor can waste a huge amount of time waiting for, and trying to convince the 20% who will never change. Work on that 60%, and try to give them room to feel positively about the change at their own rate." These are some of the principles of non –synoptic leadership."

(Gil Rendle from the Alban Institute in Washington, as quoted by Will Willimon of A Peculiar Prophet)

Why not take a few minutes and ask yourself, "Which of these categories do I live in? Do I embrace change? Do I accept change? Do I dislike change?" How can you best be used by God to grow into his future?


Unknown said...

When I was in college, I attended a church where they would break the bread in front of the congregation before communion. They used Matsa bread, so it really crunched and it gave me a feeling that I was eating the same kind of bread the disciples would have eaten at their "first communion".

I still find communion very meaningful, but I miss the imagery of the other church's way of doing communion. The pre-cut bread in perfect little squares seem a little clinical to me compared to the jagged edges of the broken Masta bread.

Some times I thought it would have been very meaningful to be a deacon in that church as they prepared the elements for that month's communion. They would have to break up all the pieces of bread that were in the other communion trays.

Joyce said...

I think what I hear you saying, Grant, is that there is something about communion, as you experienced it on campus, that you miss. Even harder than dealing with change within one church is coping with differences in practice from congregation to congregation.
I like you idea of uing matzah- I personally grew up with that. For me, though, that's a negotiable.
It's interesting how everyone has their own things they feel most strongly about. That's why working with several hundred people can be so hard. Almost any thing we do will potentially feel uncomfortable for someone. This is where "putting up with each other" really gets it's test!