Let’s be honest, not many of us like change! In fact most of us are creatures of habit whether it’s family traditions or cultural traditions in our community. Repetition brings a sense of comfort and the older I get the more I appreciate the traditions that were established by my parents and grandparents. I look forward to sharing them with my children as well as establishing our own. Traditions are a great thing and there is nothing wrong with having them until they become idols in our lives. I believe that is what has happened in many churches today. People have often been more concerned with personal preferences rather than making disciples of Jesus Christ.
I have had the chance to see the church from the perspective of being on staff in a variety of different settings and styles and I can say with confidence that not only should the church change, it must change! However, I know that some ask why? Why should we change anything? We have been doing just fine all these years so I don’t see any need to “reinvent the wheel”! Of course the message of God’s word must never change, however here are 3 reasons why I believe the church’s methods should change.
Sometimes God Calls The Church To Change
Every church has been called to the great commission, but we often hide behind our walls waiting for them to come to us. If any church is not actively reaching out to the culture around them, it is time for a change. I don’t however, believe that any church should change just for the sake of changing. This should be something God is calling a church to do and the change should be intentional to God’s direction and vision. Even how a church changes shouldn’t always be the same or even to the same extent. I believe that every church should figure out their own DNA and purpose, which is why a church should never just copy the church down the street. Of course we can learn from others and borrow ideas but ultimately a church must follow the vision that God is leading them to go. What is working at the church down the road may not work in your church, because every church is different with different people that make it up. Trying to be exactly like other churches just because they are growing can lead to a dangerous pit, however, not being obedient to God’s calling just because of tradition is also a pit and will lead to a church shutting it’s doors. We must always evaluate our intentions and ask whether we are seeking to worship God or worship what we like.
Repetition Leads To Stagnation
We are all guilty of this in many areas of our lives. We often enjoy the comfort of repetition, or at least I do. I often order the same meals when going out to eat, which drives my wife crazy! I am prone to want to vacation at the same place rather than try a new place. There is nothing generally wrong with this even in the church until our routine impacts our passion and drive to make disciples. We often get comfortable in our social groups. Sometimes we even get anxious about reaching out into the community thinking – what if the children are wild and we don’t have enough childcare workers. We are not sure if we want to mingle with new people or want our peer group to change. We get comfortable in the message length or the song to announcement ratio. Sometimes we need to shake things up a bit just to give us a fresh perspective. Studies even show that just a temporary change of vicinity can help with depression. Sometimes if myself or Melissa have had a rough day, we will just go for a ride and it always helps so much. Sometimes in the church we must break out of our routines so we won’t get stuck in a rut that could hinder the gospel. So that means if the service is packed and it’s time to go to two services, we need to be willing to do that. But Trey if we do that, I won’t be able to see some people and I am uncomfortable with that. Well get over it and recognize that it’s not about you, me, or our comfort. It’s about making disciples of Jesus and we must decide if we are going to be a social club or the body of Christ.
The Culture Changes
Yes a church must be willing to change due to an ever changing culture. This should primarily focus on the immediate culture of the specific local church and every church culture is different with a variety of backgrounds. This obviously must be under the umbrella of the never changing word of God. Now many would argue that there is no need to change the methods of ministry, to just preach the word and it will not return void regardless of the methods we employ. While I agree in the sense that the word of God is the centerpiece of all that we do, and that it can certainly transform hearts despite how we do ministry, we must remember that even Jesus Himself didn’t always do ministry the exact same way. He didn’t approach the woman at the well (John 4) the same way He did the blind man (John 9). The apostle Paul also employed a variety of different methods depending on what kind of culture he was in or who he was ministering to. Paul even went on to pen these words:
“To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” 1 Corinthians 9:19-23
We must be willing to meet our culture where they are and bring them to where Jesus is with the gospel at the center and our ultimate goal of Christ being glorified. I get so angry when I hear people say stuff like: “Well I can’t worship God with that kind of music, it’s just not my thing.” This is not about us, our preferences, nostalgia, or our comfort. This is about fulfilling God’s purpose in the world as we reach out to a culture who needs to hear about Him and we must be willing to communicate this message in a way where they can understand as God draws them to Himself.